36 Hours; a short story

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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36 Hours; a short story

Post by doc66 » Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:45 pm

I used a thread called Budget Zombacalypse as my inspiration on this one. I cheated the thread a little and used credit to get some things. But other than that, it's pretty true to the orginial.

http://zombiehunters.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14088

Thanks Wilycyt for the insperation.

Doc

Authors Note; These prices are based on the time period the story was written, you can double some of the cost now, like the ammo.



36 HOURS

“Did ya hear?” asked Billy, stopping by the break room to lean his red head through the door opening.

Being the only person in the room did not stop Cole from looking around the space; he was taking his break late because of a screw up on the line. Since he was the parts guy, he had been running parts to the maintenance guys until the machine was fixed. Billy was supposed to be on the line as well, but Billy always seemed to be someplace else.

“Hear what?”

“The riots, man, they’re burning New York.”

“Who is burning New York?” asked Cole, not really caring. Working second shift made him not really care what was happening in the world. Third was almost worse, on third he seemed to sleep all day and then go to work. Then he stayed up all night on his days off because he couldn’t get to sleep at night. He was glad to be on second shift; at least he could sleep. Neither shift let him date, it seemed. He wished he had stayed in the Army longer than two years, at least there he’d had a day job.

“I donno, those crazies, I guess.”

Those crazies. They had been the talk of the town for several months now. At first they had been in Africa, then India, then China. They were reported in Europe, and now it seemed they were in the US. No one had really heard anything from Africa for a while, India either, now that he thought about it. Rumor had it that those crazies were dead, as in walking dead. He’d seen the news occasionally and thought that if they weren’t dead, they certainly looked sick. Cole had not given them much thought after that. He’d needed a new kitchen drain at the house and most of his time was occupied getting that put together right. A house was supposed to be an investment, not a sink hole, or so he’d thought when he’d ponyed up the money for the two bedroom brick home. A new bathroom floor, a gas leak, a toilet leaking into the ceiling, it had all added up to money out of pocket and very little into the bank. He had a grand total of $536 dollars in his combined checking and savings account. The car needed tires too.

“Let me know when you get more news, Billy,” said Cole, not really expecting to hear anything again.

“Sure, man.” Billy was gone.

Shaking his head at the conspiracy being peddled by Billy, Cole turned back to his lonely meal, the latest of many, and bit into the sandwich, chewing on the tasteless food as he reflected on his life, as he often did when sitting alone. Being a thirty year old factory worker was not what Cole had planned when he was looking at the world from 20 on getting out of the military. He’d had plans of college, a sexy wife, maybe a kid by now. The college had lasted about as long as it had taken to realize that the professors were liberal idiots who had no real-world experience. Not that he had much, but he had been to Baghdad once, and that was enough to tell him that he was happy to be in the good Ol’ US of A. He wished that he’d listened to the old fart of a Staff Sergeant (he must have been about Cole’s age now, funny how distance colors your perspective, thought Cole while he mused) who had told him that the best place in the world was in the fucking Army. The guy had told him that a bad day of getting shot at was better than a good day of being a civilian. Cole’s tour in Baghdad had seen one shot fired in anger at a dog rummaging around in the company trash.

So much for world experience.

Cole finished his sports drink and the sandwich, then went back to the parts department to get ready for the next machine to break down.

32 HOURS

Billy was standing in the doorway of the parts department while Cole pulled the requested items from the shelf. Billy was talking about what he had heard on the radio while he was helping the shift manager in his office with something that Cole failed to care about.

“—so the news said that they have shut down the highways and that the governor called out the National Guard, but most of them are deployed over in Iraq,” rambled Billy. “It’s spilled over to Pittsburgh too, I heard that the bridges are being barricaded just like they did in that movie about those Zombie, the one by that Zombie guy—,”

“--George Romero—,” supplied Cole, since he had all the Living Dead movies, including the remakes.

“No, I don’t think that was him,” said Billy. “Anyway, I heard that the Highway Patrol set up check points at the border and they are causing a traffic jam a hundred miles long on 80, 30 and some others I didn’t catch.”

“How the hell can the Highway Patrol stop people from driving into the state?” wondered Cole, despite his private vow to not engage Billy in the conversation.

Billy made the gesture of someone shooting. Cole shook his head.

“It’s true man.”

“You got all this from the news?”

“No, some of it I got from the trucker who just unloaded and said that he came from Bridgeville, just south of Pittsburgh, and he saw them putting up the barricades. He got through right before they did it.”

Cole handed the red head the crate of requested parts. “How do you avoid work?”

“All you gotta do is look busy,” said Billy.

“Yeah, but aren’t you a line worker?”

“Sure, that’s where I’m going now.” Billy looked seriously at Cole. “If I was you, I’d start getting ready. I am.”

“Getting ready for what?” laughed Cole.

“I got a bad feelin’ about all this, Cole, and you’d better be ready. You got a gun?”

Cole shook his head. He had a crossbow he’d gotten at a pawn shop for $10. Somewhere in his basement he had about 10 arrows or bolts or whatever they called the things. “I can’t afford a gun.”

“You know how to shoot one?”

“I have my two years of military,” remembered Cole. “Does that count?”

“Talk to Scott, he’s got an 8mm rifle for sale cheap.”

“Thanks, Billy, but isn’t that the reason we have cops?”

Billy sighed. “If this goes like I think it will, the cops will be too busy dying to help out.”

Cole watched Billy walk away with the parts and gave the man’s back a stiff laugh. Shaking his head to try and get the uneasy feeling out of his mind, Cole looked at the clock. An hour and a half left of work. He turned to the radio that was playing some innocuous from of Top 40 pap and tuned it to one of the AM talk radio stations. He listened as the DJ launched into his spiel about the Highway Patrol stopping traffic on I70. Cole heard a few of the callers who claimed to be coming from the east on 70. They said that it was bad in Pennsylvania, people were being attacked by crazed gangs roaming the streets and New York City was a massive riot, with burning and looting beyond description. Snapping off the radio, Cole felt the panic of the reports start to form in the pit of his stomach. He left his department and went and hunted down Scott.

He found the man sitting at his machine, watching as the parts flowed past him, occasionally reaching out to pick up a piece that did not meet his standards. Cole waited for a second in the noisy room for Scott to notice him and then leaned in to speak. Scott nodded to show he heard Cole.

“I hear you got a rifle for sale,” said Cole. “How much?”

“Don’cha wanna know about it?”

“It’s an 8mm,” said Cole.

“8mm Yugo,” agreed Scott. “Mauser, basically. Got not cleaning rod, no fancy bayonets, got three stripper clips for it. Ever shot one?”

“No. How much?”

“First hundred bucks will take it.”

“Any ammo?”

Scott shook his head. “I know where you can get a case for about fifty bucks.”

Cole gave Scott a lost look.

“Case is usually about a thousand rounds,” informed Scott.

“Is that a lot?”

“Not if you’re fightin’ a war,” said Scott seriously.

“When can I get it?”

Grinning Scott shrugged. “When you got the money?”

“I can pull it out tonight from the ATM.”

“Stop by my place after work then, we’ll seal the deal with a beer.”
Cole said he would and went back to the parts room.


30 HOURS

Cole pulled the Ford Taurus up behind the truck that Scott owned and saw that Billy’s Rav4 was parked on the street. He hadn’t really wanted to see the chatter mouth again, but he supposed that Billy and Scott were friends and putting up with Billy was just a part of the deal. Cole walked up to the porch and was about to knock when Scott opened the door and motioned for Cole to enter. Holding a finger to his lips, Scott waved from Cole to follow and he lead him down into the basement of the ranch-style home. Cole walked behind the man, looking at the photo’s of the family on the walls and the little nick-nacks that were supposed to make a place homey and comfortable. Cole had none of these things up in his house; he had a photo of a mountain, a framed movie poster of his favorite action hero, a couple of book shelves and the bare minimum of furniture. In the basement, Cole was confronted by a rec room that sported a large screen TV and sports team banners on the walls. He saw Billy on a comfortable looking sectional couch, his face to the TV and a beer in his hand. Scott went to a refrigerator and pulled out two more beers, handing one to Cole.

“Sorry about the hush-hush there, but my wife is asleep and she has to be up at five to go to work.”

“No problem,” assured Cole, taking the offered seat at the other end of the couch. Billy raised his beer and then turned back to the TV. Cole looked to see what held the man’s attention.

The screen showed the New York skyline, which was seemingly etched over in smoke and in some distant cases, flames that glowed in buildings and a reporter was talking at the camera. The ticker under the reporter said that he was LIVE in New York with the latest on the outbreak of the plague. As the reporter spoke, the screen flashed to chaotic scenes of people running and a police officer shooting at a man wearing a hospital gown and chasing people.

“This scene unfolded here in Lower Manhattan just two hours ago. A patent at a local hospital was brought in displaying flu-like conditions late yesterday afternoon. According to sources, the man deteriorated through the evening and died last night. When workers went to move the body this afternoon, the man began to attack them, even after being declared clinically dead.

“Sources say that the man, who was later put down by the officer shown here, might be a carrier of the same virus that has been reported in Europe and elsewhere in the world. The virus, H65N7, is said to activate the dying brain cells into activity that is similar to the fabled ‘Zombies’ of the cult movie maker, George Romero. Doctors so far can not explain the phenomena, saying only that they are working to discover why it happens and are waiting on a vaccine against the flu that causes this disturbing reaction.

“New York area doctors urge anyone who has come in contact with this man to contact their local health clinic or hospital as soon as possible.”

The camera was cut to another reporter and the backing scene was a fire raging out of control, the flames shooting out of the middle floors of a high rise building. There were no firefighters in attendance and the people on the street were running in the shadowy darkness while gunshots sounded in the distance. The reporter was broadcasting from the safety of a doorway.

“The rioting here in the city has reached epidemic proportions despite the orders of the mayor that all people be off the streets or face arrest by the police. Though I have to say, so far we’ve not seen a single police officer in the twenty or so minutes since we’ve taken up our position here in the doorway. The fires are now out of control and there is no sign of the fire department, at least here at this location. I can see several other buildings burning and people who had been injured are lying in the streets.

“Some of the Good Samaritans who have tried to help people have been attacked by the very people they were trying to help. Excuse me, Jack, did you that? Do you see that?”

The camera man was trying to focus in on a man being attacked by several people. They appeared to be trying to wrestle him to the ground and one looked to be biting him on the neck. The man was yelling for help and as his yells turned to screams, the camera was cut back to the news room.

Cole turned to Scott, who was taking a long drink from his beer. Cole had forgotten he had a beer in his hand and looked at the bottle as if he were trying to remember where it had come from. He finally sipped at the brew and set the bottle on the coffee table.

“So, how about that rifle?”

“You see?’ said Billy. “I told you.”

“You’ve been telling everybody for years,” said Scott, getting up and going to another door. “The End of the World is your hobby, like collecting stamps.”

“It’s not a hobby, it’s inevitable,” muttered Billy.

Scott opened a closet and from it pulled out the rifle in question. Cole stood and accepted it, his military training stirring somewhere deep in the back of his mind. After a second of deciphering the action, Cole opened the bolt of the hefty rifle and looked at it like he knew what he was seeing. Thankfully he either fooled Scott or the man played along.

“It’s a little different from a modern action,” said Scott. “The safety is here, UP is the firing pin safety and you can still work the bolt, all the way to the right locks the bolt. It’s got graduated sights, but keep it on the low one, it’s all you’ll need. Holds five rounds.”

Cole worked the safety, the action and with Scott’s encouragement, snapped the trigger. He nodded setting the rifle aside and pulled out his wallet. He counted out the five twenties, then handed them to Scott. “Where did you say I could get the ammo?”

“Little place off Walker Avenue. Guy named Less’s got cases of the stuff.” Scott wrote down an address. “Tell him I sent you. He opens at ten.”

Cole took the slip of paper and then drank off the beer. “I’d better get going.”

“Don’t let Billy scare you off,” said Scott.

“He hasn’t.” Cole picked up the rifle, unsure about the purchase, but even more unsure of the scenes that were flashing on the TV. “I need to go grocery shopping anyway. I like the stores better at night, fewer people.”

Walking to the door with him, Scott followed him out into the yard. “Listen, Billy might be nuts about some things, but this; he’s got me thinking hard. If you want some advice, start thinking about boarding up your house, I’m going to be going to the lumber yard with him tomorrow, if you want to ride along.”

Looking down at the rifle and then seeing the man being attacked made Cole nod. “What time?”

“About ten, you got my number?”

Cole shook his head. Scott rattled off the numbers and Cole put them in his cell phone. They said good night after Cole assured him that he would call. Putting the rifle in the trunk, Cole backed out of the drive and headed to the closest discount bulk store open at that time of night.

29 HOURS

Cole liked shopping at one o’clock in the morning. He found that the aisles were less congested; most of the people there were second shift people like himself, or stoners looking of that perfect food to cure the carvings of the night. Cole found himself steering away from the normal junk foods of a bachelor and picking up a lot of dried foods, mixes and boxed stuff that needed very little to make them edible. The words of Billy kept running through his head, those hushed warnings to be prepared. Cole was not really sure what he was preparing for, but the movie versions of something like this seemed to indicate that a siege was inevitable. How one readied themselves for a siege against beings who did not die, was something Cole had no clue about. The only guides he could think of where the B movies from the pop culture of the late seventies and eighties, when everyone thought they were going to be Nuked out of existence. Those had never ended very positively. The Zombie flicks he owned all had the characters running to a big building and eventually getting overrun. Cole wanted a better ending than that. There was the thought that he needed to have relatively ready to eat foods, foods that would last without much in the way of cold storage and high enough in the essentials that he would not literally starve from lack of nutrition. To that end, Cole spent some time reading the packages of the food he was buying, surprised at how much empty calories and fat was in the quick fix foods, which he passed over for the more expensive, but better for him, containers.

He never had really eaten much junk food, but he did have his cravings. Raman Noodles were two for a dollar, and he loaded up on those, even though they were loaded with salt if you used the little packet that came with them. Cole then bought peanut butter on sale as well, getting four jars, and peanuts; he had a recipe for a peanut sauce that he put over the noodles instead of using the packets. He made sure he got the unsalted peanuts. He bought the big bags of flour, two big tubs of salt, ten pounds of sugar, some Asian spices that were on sale, a large can of pepper, two big containers each of dried garlic and onion and of all things; dried milk, two big five pound boxes. He got drink mixes as well, ones that didn’t need sugar added, buying the cheap ones since like the noodles they were two for a dollar. Cole added a big three pound bag of dried fruit that he scooped himself, picked up a dozen cans of sale tuna, along with sale canned salmon and the SPAM-alike stuff in the can, then rounded the whole thing out with the sale vegetables and fruits in the cans. He saw that Pepsi products were on sale and picked up ten two liter bottles of their version of fruit punch. Cole bought several off brand bottles of vitamins, along with on-sale blocks of dark chocolate. By the time he was finished, Cole had a cart full of food and was lighter by another $150 dollars.

Toting the entire cart to the car, Cole wondered if what he was doing could be called panic buying. In the harsh light of the security lights, Cole stood in the cooling summer air to stare at the groceries and ponder his reaction to the short news segments and the comments of Billy and Scott. He had spent nearly half of his money in less than two hours, and if he continued, he was going to do it again tomorrow. Maybe things would look different by the light of day. He could eat the food, no problem, the rifle, that was something if he felt differently about in the morning, he might be able to break even with it by selling it to someone else. He looked long and hard at the thing lying in the trunk as he began to pile the bags in. No one else seemed to be as concerned about the recent events, and Cole wondered if he had just fed off of Billy’s paranoia. He closed the trunk to the car and headed to his house.

28 ½ HOURS

Cole arrived at his house, happy to be home, pausing for a moment to sit in the drive of his quiet neighborhood. The houses were normal family dwellings, most of them brick, two story dwellings build around the end of World War II. The people in his neck of the woods were mostly older couples or single old people who had bought the homes, raised the families and then stayed instead of going to Florida. Across the street was a single guy, a mechanic, beside Cole was the lesbian couple who had the one woman’s son living with them, the other side of his house was an empty house, the woman having broken her hip and was in a nursing home. The rest were older people.
He opened the car door to the cooler air of the night and began to unload the groceries. Cole always used the back door of the house, his yard was fenced off with a stockade wood fence he had put up his first year at the place, hoping to make a more private get away. It had helped, but he didn’t get to spend as much time as he wanted in the yard, mostly mowing and picking up fallen branches from the big maple that offered shade. The one car garage was full of his various tools and ladders, some place he had never gotten around to organizing enough to pull the car into. Cole carried the bags into the kitchen and then went back out to the car and stared at the rifle. He reached for the long gun and after a second of debate, left it in the trunk. Time away from everything was giving him perspective on the panic he had felt, now he was feeling stupid at his reaction.

He would see if he could sell it in the morning. There was nothing going to happen that he would need a rifle.

Cole left the groceries on the floor and counter since there was nothing that needed refrigeration. It was late, and he needed to get sleep. By route, Cole went through the dining room without turning on the lights, a mostly bare room with a small table and four chairs in it, the living room, a couch; a rocking chair, a coffee table and floor lamp fronting a TV made up that room, then up the stairs to the bigger of the two bedrooms where he undressed and fell onto the futon bed, letting the day leave him.[/b]
Last edited by doc66 on Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:00 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Post by doc66 » Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:50 pm

21 ½ HOURS

Cole woke to the chirping of his cell phone.

He blearily looked at the clock on the bed stand and then grabbed up the phone.

“Cole, you watching the news?” asked the voice.

Sighing, Cole shook his head. “I’m in bed, Billy.”

“Turn on the news.”

Rolling off the bed, Cole padded downstairs in his underwear and searched for the remote. “What’s so important that you had to wake me up at eight thirty in the morning?”

“Just turn it to the local news, man, skip over CNN.”

Finding the remote, Cole turned on the TV and found the local news. It showed the skyline of Columbus, over which hung a thick blanket of fog. “It’s foggy,” said Cole.

“No, that’s smoke. They set the city on fire last night.”

“Who?”

“Al Qaeda,” said Billy. “Shit dude, the fucking Zombies, man. They made it past the Highway Patrol last night and Columbus is in shambles, so’s Dayton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, all of the big cities are falling into anarchy.”

Cole listened to Billy and then half to the announcer who told the people that there had been some disturbances during the night, but that the Police and Fire had the matters well under control. As if to prove this, the news team showed the local traffic cameras which showed the traffic patterns, if a little light, mostly normal for that time of morning. Cole noticed that there seemed to be more law enforcement out than normal.

“Looks pretty normal to me,” said Cole.

“That’s what they want you to think,” said Billy. “I got a call from a friend who lives outside of Delaware and he told me that they’ve been calling out the National Guard on the sly. His wife’s nephew got a phone call at home to report last night. Aren’t you in the Guard?”

With an eye still on the News, Cole absently told Billy that he had gotten out last year when he blew a knee and failed his yearly run. The camera showed some burned out cars and a building that was still smoldering under the watchful eye of a couple of firemen who were sitting on the gate of a bright red pick-up. He muted the sound so that he could read the interview on the screen. It was a basic fluff piece about the heroism of the fire department. They didn’t mention dead people or anything like what Billy had been talking about or CNN had shown at midnight the day before.

Billy was still talking. “Scott and I are going to see Less, you want to come along?”

“Right now?”

“I can pick you up in about twenty minutes.”

“I gotta get dressed,” said Cole.

“So, do it.” Billy was quiet for a second. “Bring that rifle too, we’re going to hit the range for about an hour after we get our shopping done.”

“Shopping?” questioned Cole, still watching the news and wondering who to believe.

“We’re going to hit the Oriental market for some stuff, it’s cheaper there and then to the lumber yard. I’ll explain it when I pick you up.”

Billy rang off and Cole sighed as he closed hit phone. After another minute of watching the News, Cole wandered back upstairs to pull on the jeans he’d worn the day before and a fresh t-shirt. Pulling on his socks and tennis shoes and then going into the bathroom to wash his face, Cole considered what Billy had told him about the National Guard; he had a way to verify that one and picked up his cell phone. Dialing a buddy of his who was still in the Guard, Cole listened to the phone ring on the other end. It was picked up and Cole introduced himself to the female voice who answered.

“Is Brad there?”

Brad’s wife sighed. “He got called in last night,” she told Cole. “The Guard enacted some emergency section 44 or some bullshit. It’s another one of those terrorist secret things that they’ve been doing since 9-11. It pisses me off because I had the day off and we were going to go to the park with the kids. Now I’ve got to call his work and all that crap for him since he’s not allowed to have ‘contact’ with me until they say so.”

“Oh, well, just let him know I called.”

“Right, I’ll tell him as soon as he gets home.”

Cole thanked her and disconnected. He didn’t care that she would never tell Brad he called, he only wanted to confirm what Billy had said to him about the Guard being called up on the sly. He thought about all the junk he still had in the basement from his days in the military. BDU’s in cammy and the desert “chocolate chip”, his harness gear, boots, canteens, a gas mask, he’d even managed to appropriate a case of MRE’s of two during his tenure through the loose packets they issued to them on the weekend warrior stints. People had given him what they didn’t want, or had left over and Cole in turn had brought them home. The military was one big sink hole when it came to some shit. He knew people who had walked out with pistol and rifle magazines by the dozen that were supposed to have been destroyed. One of the supply guys would get you nearly anything you wanted if it was small enough to be smuggled out of his car and didn’t have a serial number. He now wished that he’d taken the armorer up on the offer to give him a .45 that was to have been decommissioned. The guy told him it was no problem to loose the thing in the paperwork; he’d claimed that it would be twenty years before they figured out it was gone.

Wandering back down the stairs, Cole grabbed a package of pop tarts and ate them cold with a glass of OJ while waiting for Billy. Cole still had to wonder if he were doing the same thing he was last night, buying into a panic that was created by what might be just normal world circumstances. The riots in New York could have been caused by anything; the rumors about the Highway Patrol shutting down the roads could have been a simple sobriety check to cut down on drunk drivers.

Pigs could be flying.

Cole finished off the OJ then tossed the foil packet into the trash just as Billy was pulling up in his car. Cole made sure the house was locked up and then walked out to the trunk of the car to get the rifle out. Billy exited his little Rav4 and opened the gate do the rifle could be put in the back with his cased firearms. He pulled the screen over the bunch and they were seated even as Billy backed the car out of Cole’s driveway.

Billy began talking before the gears were changed to move forward. “So have you thought about how you’re going to block out the windows?”

“What?” asked Cole, turning down the radio that was blasting a talk show.

“The windows, man,” repeated Billy. “How are you going to block them so they can’t be broken in and those things get in the house?”

“Listen, Billy, I don’t even know if any of this is going to happen, dude,” said Cole. “Last night I think I was running on a little fear of the unknown. Everything seemed to be pretty well under control this morning.”

“This is a lull,” said Billy. “Trust me on this. I got on Zombie Squad last night and they’re all talking about what’s happening. There are guy on that site from New York and they said don’t’ believe that shit that they’re telling us on the news. Those guys are trying to get out of the city right now.”

While he heard what Billy had told him, Cole was really only able to focus on one thing. “Zombie Squad?”

“It’s kinda a survivalist web site,” explained Billy. “Do you have a Bob?”

“A B-O-B, acronym for Bug Out Bag. It’s a bag that has essential shit in it like a first aid kit, extra socks, high calorie foods; things you’d need if you had to run in a hurry to survive.”

“No,” said Cole. “I have no bob.”

“You should think about making one.”

Cole sighed. “What’s this about windows?”

“Yeah. I was thinking, that instead of getting high dollar plywood, I’d get fiberboard, it’s the same strength of plywood, but half the cost. You might want to get some 2x4’s too, to make cross bars for your doors. How many windows do you have down stairs?”

“Eight—“

So about four pieces of fiberboard, say two or three 2x4’s, that should do you fine.”

“And I’m putting them up over the windows why?”

“glass is only so strong, and with a piece of board up, it offers a solid barrier they have to break through, rather than just glass.”

“Who are they?” asked Cole.

“You, know, you saw the news, you heard what they said.”

“You mean these people attacking everybody.”

“They ain’t people no more, Cole,” stressed Billy. “They’re dead.”

“Like in the movies.”

“This ain’t a movie, Cole.” Billy pulled up in front of Scott’s house and Cole was surprised to see that Scott had already started to lay plywood in front of each window. The man saw them pull up and set his portable drill down to greet them.

“You guys give me a hand?” asked Scott. “This front window is awful big and I can’t hold up the plywood and drill the screws at the same time.”

Billy assured him they’d help and walked over to look at the space that needed covered as Cole glanced around the neighborhood to see if any one else were taking the extreme measures that Scott was. Another neighbor was sizing up the windows, but had yet to take the next step. Cole wandered over and lifted the side he was told to as Scott set the wood in place with long drywall screws. The big window took two pieces of plywood, and they braced the wood with a couple of eight foot 2x4’s across the middle to keep the center from flexing. While they were working several people drove slowly by the house. Cole kept his face toward the house, slightly embarrassed that he was helping them seal off the dwelling. Since they were there, they helped Scott cover the windows he had sheets for. It did not take long as all the boards were already sized for the sills. While they worked, Scott and Billy talked about the things they needed to still get and if they were going to have time to get it all done. Both men seemed to thing they had but a few hours left before a catastrophe struck.

Scott stepped back and admired their work, nodding to himself. “Four more sheets and I think I’ve got it. Thanks for the help, it’ll make my job easier. How are you set Billy?”

“I’ve had my covers made for a while now, I just have to set them. Me and my brother can do that.”

“What’s your wife think about all this?’ asked Cole to no one in particular.

“She’s pretty much of the mind that we need to be prepared for anything,” said Scott, leading them into the garage to put away his tools. “This might be a little over the edge for her, but, hey, as long as I can fill in the holes if need be, she indulges me.”

Cole looked at Billy. He looked at the floor of the garage. “I live with my mom and dad and brother,” explained Billy. “Yeah, I know, what’s a thirty year old doing living at home; my ex got the house and the kid and most of my check. My brother’s on disability from a job accident, and he never did get married. My folks are both way older. They live in the first floor, my brother’s got the second floor and I got the basement. It works for us. They think my brother and I are nuts, big disappointments, but they pretty much let us run the place.”

“Billy’s got fifteen acres to play on too, that’s where we’ll shoot,” said Scott. “You guys ready to go over to Less’s?”

Cole nodded and followed them out to the garage. There was a gunshot in the distance and all three of them stopped to search out the source of the noise.

“You heeled?” asked Billy.

“I’ll go get it,” said Scott, disappearing into the house.

“Dare I ask?”

Billy pulled up his shirt tail to show Cole the grips of a Glock tucked into his waistband.

“You have a permit, I hope?”

“I do,” assured Billy.

Scott came out wearing a light over shirt untucked. “Ready?”

“We are now.”

“You heeled?” Scott asked Cole.

“It’ll be kind of hard to stick that rifle down my pants,” joked Cole.

They stared at him for a second and then went to get into their respective vehicles. Cole wondered just what he was doing the entire way to the gun shop.

20 HOURS

Less’s place was in the basement of his home, a cluttered area heaped with old gun magazines, parts of firearms, racks of shotguns, rifles, and glass cases containing handguns of various makes and sizes. Along one wall was stacked case upon case of ammunition in military green boxes, wooden boxes, cardboard boxes and shelved by single boxes. Holsters, belts, cleaning kits, things that Cole had no idea what they were for were hanging from displays, stacked on top of one another, and littered the floor. A cat slept on the counter, and big dog padded through the room, and another slept in a dog bed by a recliner. Less sat in the recliner, a heavy man who looked to be somewhere between sixty and ninety years old. The air was thick with stale cigar smoke and one of the things smoldered in Less’s teeth as he spoke.

“I was beginning to give up on you guys,” said Less, absently petting the dog form his place in the chair.

“We were doing some things.”

“You been keeping an eye on the news?”

Billy nodded for them.

“Me too, I got my boy coming over later to help me get those shutters up.”

“You still got that Star 30PK?” asked Billy.

“Over in the case. I thought you wanted ammo.”

“I do,” said Billy, pointing suddenly to Cole. “But he needs a pistol.”

“That’s a pistol,” agreed Less. “Just to get rid of it, I’ll sell it to you for $220 out the door. Comes with two magazines and the box.”

“I just need 8mm ammo,” protested Cole. “That’s all I got money for.”

“I can get you instant credit through American Finance,” assured Less, picking up the phone by his elbow. “You got a job and a driver’s license?”

“Yes, but I just need the 8mm.”

“Give him your driver’s license,” said Billy, going behind the counter to pick up the pistol in question. “Where’s the keys to unlock this?”

“You employed here?” snapped Less, taking out the keys and tossing them to Billy.

Billy caught them and opened the case. “Look at this,” he said. Placing the pistol on the counter he motioned for Cole to come over. “It’s got a fifteen round magazine, double action, and the decock is right here, drops the hammer when your done shooting. Feel it. It’s got an aluminum frame.”

“I can’t afford it,” said Cole.

“He can get you credit.”

“Billy--.”

“Listen, Cole, get a three-four hundred dollar limit and put the pistol, the ammo for the rifle and the pistol on it and if this shit doesn’t’ happen, I’ll buy them off you.”

“With what?”

“Cash, Cole,” said Billy. “I might pay child support, but I live at my parent’s house for Chirst’s sake.”

He felt like arguing with the other man, to shake him and tell him that he was playing along and in a couple hours they’d find out it was all just a big mistake. Cole hefted the pistol. It felt solid and comforting; the way the M16 had his first couple nights in Baghdad when the ragheads were blowing holes in things for no reason that was decipherable. “Fine.” He dug his wallet out and handed his ID to Less who gave him several forms to fill out, one a quick loan form the other a firearms purchase form. In the mean time, Billy and Scott grabbed the cases of ammo they wanted to buy, putting Cole’s with the growing pile. Less took the form and made a phone call, listening to the other end for a moment then hanging up.

“They’ll call back,” he informed them, looking over the yellow form that Cole had filled out. Cole picked up the pistol again, playing with the things action for something to do. The phone rang. Less picked it up, spoke and scribbled down a number. “You got five hundred bucks.”

Cole laughed; he’d just doubled his money with a phone call. It was too bad he couldn’t use the cash on something else. “Just the pistol and the ammo.”

Billy, who had been rummaging through the racked weapons, picked up a shotgun. “This is only $120.”

“That old Smith 1200?” asked Less.

“Same.”

“I’ll give it to you for eighty bucks.” Less grinned around his cigar. “It’s heavy, beat up and nobody wants it with Mossberg’s being lighter and better built for just a few bucks more. Besides, it’s missing the rear ramp on the sights.”

“No thanks,” assured Cole.

“Hell, it’s the end of the world,” joked Less. “You’ll never have to pay up.”

Scott pulled Cole aside. “Just do it, man, if this doesn’t happen, Billy and I’ll buy the ammo and stuff you don’t want off you. Get the 8mm, a half case of 9mm and a hundred rounds of that Sellor and Beloit 00 buck. That’ll eat up the five hundred and you’ll be set for what ever.”

“Scott, I don’t know if I believe this is happening.”

“I know,” returned the man. “But if it does, you’re set.”

“Fine,” agreed and exasperated Cole. “Let’s just get going.”

He added the shotgun to the form and they loaded the ammo while Less called the purchase into the proper authorities. Scott came back from his own search in the piles lying around the store with a flimsy looking length of cloth and some pieces of metal in a plastic wrapper. He showed them to Cole and explained that they were stripper clips for the Mauser and a bandolier to hold the loaded clips. Cole held his tongue, simply accepting the additions and hoping that he did not go over his $500 line of credit. After a few moments, Less congratulated him on his new firearms and Cole walked out carrying the pistol case and the shotgun, which like Less had said, was hefty feeling with the solid wood stocks and the eight round magazine tube. The bright side was he had the money he was going to spend on the ammo for other things now. The problem was he now had another bill if things started looking up. Scott looked at his watch and declared that it was now time to hit the Oriental Market.

18 ½ HOURS

In a strip mall near the center of town, Cole wandered the aisles of the Oriental Market and wondered why he had never been in there until now. He had walked passed it on his way to the liquor store just down the way, but had never stopped in. There were some many foods that he thought he should have at least tried, and vowed that if this was just an exercise in stupidity, he would return to expand his culinary horizons. With a basket in hand, Cole began to load himself down with the items suggested by Billy and Scott. On the way over, Cole had ridden with Scott, who explained to him that the best foods to get for long term were the rice’s and beans because they were dried and naturally ready for long storage because they held their nutrition better than most other foods kept in storage. He told Cole he needed to also buy oil for cooking and to add necessary fats to his diet, so Cole bought 10 gallons worth of different kinds of oil. Cole bought red and brown lentils as well as red beans, twenty-five pounds of the legumes and various pasta, from cuscus and risotto to just plain old noodles, another ten pounds. He got some sun dried tomatoes in a huge package along with dried mushrooms. Tossing in an industrial sized package of curry finished off the shopping for Cole. The lady behind the counter watched them carefully as they each picked up a fifty pound bag of rice and carried them to the counter, all three of them smiling as if they did this every day. She rung them out, taking their cash without expression as the strange music played over the speakers. In all, he bought another $100 worth of food from the market. He was down to about a $150 in cash. He hoped that the other two men were as right as they were as certain about the coming events. On leaving the store, they heard what sounded to be a dozen or more sirens wailing through town and the traffic seemed to have died off on the street.

“It’s starting,” breathed Billy.

Cole was about to retort when a scattering of gunfire erupted from the same direction. The lady from the Market opened the door.

“You men should go home,” she shut the door and locked it.

Cole looked at the other two.

“Let’s hope the lumber yard is still open,” said Scott.

Following them to the vehicles, Cole saw that several other cars were entering the parking lot, the drivers of the cars looking scared. One of the vehicles pulled up next to them and the driver, a small Chinese lady, exited, looking at them fearfully.

“What happened, m’am?” asked Billy.

“Those men, they attacked the people,” she managed to say as she hurried by them toward the store.

“What men?” called Billy to her back.

She stopped in the lot and tried to decide what to tell them. She shook her head. “It don’t matter what you think. Those men were bitten and they attacked other people and bit them. The police, they shoot them and it do nothing. Nothing to stop them from biting.”

“We believe you,” Billy assured her.

She said something in a rapid chatter and waked to the store. The lady inside opened it and locked it behind the new arrival.

“Now do you believe us?” asked Billy.

“Let’s get to the lumber yard,” answered Cole. “I’ve got to get home.”

“So do I,” said Scott. “If I head home right away, you take Cole out to your place and show him how to shoot those things?”

“What about the lumber for your windows?” asked Billy.

Scott nodded as if he had forgotten. “Right. I’ll see you there.”

They headed for the lumber yard. As they did so, Cole loaded up both magazines for the Star PK.

“I’ve got a nylon holster that will work for that thing,” mentioned Billy.

“Thanks.”

“No problem.”

17 HOURS

They loaded the lumber into the back of Scott’s truck sharing the task to varying degrees along with a dozen other people who were having the same idea. There were tense jokes about Zombies and the movie lore that went with them, such as shooting them in the head. More sirens called over the city as they loaded, making everyone around them bend with more determination to the task of finding the right thing to barricade their homes from the as of yet, unsubstantiated threat that lurked among them. Cole shelled out his $20 for the wood, thankfully they price had not been jacked up yet by the lumber company seeing a potential for profit. Scott drove the works over to Cole’s house, dropping off his sheets of plywood and the 2x4’s in the backyard and then motoring quickly off after assuring them he would call them later. Scott did not think that he was going to go into work. Cole was starting the agree with the man; work was looking more and more out of the picture as the sound of gunfire and sirens became more prevalent as the morning wore on.

Billy helped him measure the windows and then held the board steady while Cole used his battered circular saw to cut the boards to fit. They placed them in the windows while Cole drilled the drywall screws into the window casings, blocking the windows from possible damage, but at the same time, making a cave out of the lower level of his house. What he had not thought about were the basement windows, which while they were not very wide or long, still provided a small individual with access into the house if they were determined enough. Billy solved his dilemma by pointing out that a length of 2x4 across the center of the window would keep all but the most determined person out of the basement. He also mentioned that since most of the windows were secreted behind bushes, they were not noticeable to the casual observer, or more than likely to the near brain dead either.

Several of his neighbors were making attempts to block off the bigger of their windows, while others were packing their cars to head for what they hoped to be safer places. Billy spoke while they worked.

“You need to real quick, pace off the distance to the places around your house, that way you know how far you’re shooting, if you need to. Like, how far is it to the end of the block, the neighbor’s back door, that kind of stuff,” Billy was saying. “You’ll need to get water containers, buckets to shit in, things like that. I see you’ve got a grill. Get the bottle and get it filled on the way to my place, there’s no telling how long the power will stay on when this starts of go down hill. Have you got candles?”

“Some,” said Cole.

“Buy up those cheap smelling things that don’t cost much. They’ll provide light and also mask any bad odors that linger. Batteries for radios and flashlights, but make sure you don’t have too many different kinds of batteries.”

“I’ll use my Maglite.”

“Good choice. Think about taking out some of the steps to the second story,” said Billy, and when Cole asked him why he answered with; “So if something gets in, you have that barrier that can’t be crossed easily. The more stairs you take out, the harder it is to get to you. Make the top floor your base of operations. Take games and all that up there, all the food, the potable water; all of it.”

“You think they’ll get in?”

“Depends on how quiet you are, or how well fortified you are.”

“How well fortified am I?”

Billy shrugged. “As well as you can be with such short notice and little planning.”

“So I’m doomed?”

“Naw, you’ll be fine. Bored, but fine.”

They both laughed and continued working.

With Billy’s help, Cole cut the 2x4’s to fit over the doors and the windows, but they left them for Cole to finish later. He then followed Billy to his parents place for a very quick lesson in shooting his new firearms.
Last edited by doc66 on Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by doc66 » Fri Dec 22, 2006 2:54 pm

15 HOURS

Billy showed Cole how to load the rifle using the stripper clips. Cole was surprised at how much thump the rifle had, even though it weighed nearly nine pounds. They blasted paper targets out to a hundred yards, with Billy explaining how to use the graduated sights on the rifle, showing Cole that if he knew the range he could adjust the sights accordingly and shoot the rifle. Billy pointed out a big rock in the field, telling Cole that it was 300 yards away. Cole found the 300 yard notch on the ladder sight and then sighed away his tension, squeezing the military trigger. The rifle boomed and a puff of dust rose from the rock. Cole took several more shots, emptying the rifle and grinning while he did so. Nodding his approval, Billy told Cole to get the Smith and Wesson shotgun. Billy dragged out a big box of shotgun shells, which, Billy explained; he had loaded using his press in his room. Billy knew a lot about guns, Cole found out. Cole’s own experience with firearms was limited to his two years in the Army and the weekends at the Guard. Billy showed Cole the advantages of “topping off” the shotgun tube, how to move and load it, and how, when there was more than one target, to look at his target before he swung the shotgun over to blast at the next in line. He reminded Cole that all shots had to be aimed, that the movies made people think that just pointing a shotgun was the end-all, but they had to be aimed like every other firearm in the world. The Smith was heavy and the weight helped absorb the recoil some, but by the end of the shooting session, a little over 150 rounds of ounce and a half shot, Cole was feeling the punishment in his shoulder from the shotgun and the rifle.

They went to the pistol next.

Billy dug out a green ammo box of his reloaded 9mm, helping Cole top off the magazines. Billy gave Cole the holster, a black nylon Uncle Mikes rig with a spare mag holder at the front of the holster. It had a strap to hold the pistol in it, but Billy told Cole to ignore it and showed him a screw to adjust the tension of the holster. Billy once more walked Cole through various shooting drills, getting Cole used to the Star’s long double action trigger with single shots and then “double tapping” multiple targets. Cole had no idea how many rounds he fired, but decided that he liked the Star and might keep it even if everything was not as bad as they had been thinking. They finished up shooting and Cole gathered up his belongings, placing them in the car. Billy stopped him from putting away the pistol.

“Put that thing on your belt,” encouraged Billy. “Cover it up with your shirt.”

“That’s not exactly legal,” said Cole.

“Is it going to matter tomorrow?” asked Billy.

Cole thought back to the sound of the sirens in town. “I guess not.”

“Here,” said Billy, taking the magazines. “Load them with this stuff. It’s hollow point. Not the highest end stuff, but still good.”

“Silver bullets?” laughed Cole, “I thought those were for werewolves.”

Grinning, Billy helped Cole top of the mags and gave him the rest of the box. “The way things are going right now, do you want to risk not being ready for anything?”

“Guess not,” admitted Cole.

The door to the house opened and an ancient female voice called out to them. “Billy, your friend going to stay for lunch?”

“I don’t know, Ma,” returned Billy, looking at Cole. Cole nodded. “Sure Ma, set a place for him.”

“Good, I baked a chicken and we’ve got plenty.” The door banged shut.

“Come on,” said Billy. “Chances are she’s already got the table set.”

Cole followed Billy to the house, still carrying the Star in his hands as he walked.

12 HOURS

He pulled up to the country store lot with his two grill propane bottles and pulled them out of the trunk where his five gallon gas can rested as well as the two gallon. The Star shifted a little at his side, but Cole did not touch it. Billy was right; the holster was not the best, so Cole had simply stuck the Star in his waistband without the benefit of a holster. He did not want to think about the trouble he would be in if he got caught with it. Lunch had been one of the best meals he’d had in some time, baked chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits and honey, which Billy had said was from his brother’s bee hives. Allen, the brother, was a quiet man, big through the chest and belly, and wore a beard like a mountain man, just as red as Billy’s. He spoke quietly of his garden and the bees, his winemaking, and brewing Meade. Cole had been so complementary of the honey that Billy’s brother, Allen, had given him two pounds of the stuff along with the comb inside one of the jars. A six pack of Meade and a bottle of wine were nestled in the same box as the honey. Billy’s mother had packed him a big Tupperware plate of leftovers to take with him, saying that since he was so far away from family, he needed a little home cooking. Cole now wondered why he had never liked Billy; of course, he was a different person at work than at home. Cole hoped that he would have another opportunity to visit the family.

He carried the bottles over to the big propane fill station. An employee came out and started the filling process for Cole. The guy took the money once the bottles were filled and Cole thanked him then loaded the propane back in the trunk, bungee-cording them to the seat so they would not roll around.

His next, and final stop was to the superstore. He hated the things, but it was his best bet on getting what he needed next for a decent price. The food aisles were packed with people, but so far, the camping and home furnishings were relatively easy to get through. Cole bought four collapsible five gallon water jugs, getting the last ones they had, maybe all they had ever had, and then on a whim picked up a really cheap boxed set of target grade crossbow bolts for $20 for a set of ten. He also bought a machete and a sheath knife set that was on sale. Going to the household goods, Cole loaded up on the most on sale, cheapest candles that they had. He bought two decorative brass kerosene lamps that were on the same on-sale shelf. They were small, and the wicks were short, but for two dollars a piece, he could not pass them up.

Cole made his way back to the camping section and picked up a two of the two gallon jugs of citronella scented kerosene. He found a package of the wicks and added those. He was nearly too late for the batteries. He cleaned out the rack of the D-cells and the AA’s. Cole made his way to the laundry section, buying up powdered soap and four bottles of bleach, both for cleaning as well as sanitizing the water if needed. A couple of drops would work in the water jugs should it come to that.

As he pushed the cart to the checkout, a fight erupted in one of the grocery aisles and people began to scream as a man attacked another, throwing punches at anyone who came too close to the remaining food he had decided he wanted. The mini riot began to spread with people throwing cans at each other. Blood erupted from cuts, and normally law abiding citizens were suddenly in a frenzy as the food began to disappear. People fell to the ground in tangles and store employees tried to separate the combatants. Cole took advantage of the distraction to pushed his cart in front of a loaded down soccer mom as she craned her head to see the battle. Cole began to put his purchases on the conveyer and had to snap his fingers at the cashier as she too, tried to see what was going on.

“You going, camping?’ asked the girl once Cole had her focused on his purchases.

“Might be,” he said, absently as he looked around, watching for more trouble. Two police officers ran through the doors, making the cashier stop and Cole pushed an item to her to get her back on his goods.

“It’s just crazy all the stuff going on, isn’t it?” she said nervously. “I had a customer tell me that they were shooting people in Columbus this morning. Can you imagine that? People shooting at each other. Just plain crazy.”

“It’s nuts,” agreed Cole. She started to slowly bag his items as she scanned, still looking over her shoulder. “Hey, can you kind of pick up the pace? I need to get going.”

“Oh, sorry,” snapped the girl, suddenly upset because Cole was keeping her from rubbernecking. She pushed the last purchase across the scanner and gave him his total. Cole freed his wad of cash and paid the girl, noting sickly that he might have enough to fill up the gas tank in the car and the cans, then he’d be officially broke. Loading the items in the cart, Cole saw several more officers run into the store and then as they cleared the door, the shooting started. The cashier screamed and dropped to the floor. Cole doubted she was hurt, but it did seem to be the safest thing to do, so Cole ducked himself, his last two bags in hand. More shots were fired, and suddenly, people were rushing for the doors.

Dumping the bags into the cart, Coe used the thing as a battering ram to clear his way through the people that blocked his way. He was aware of knocking down several others in his rush to get out of the superstore, but he did not care as more bullets began to fill the air and break glass at the front of the store. Suddenly free from the crush, Cole ran behind the cart for his car, aware that others followed and several people were lying in the parking lot, not moving. On reaching his car, Cole opened the trunk throwing his bags in the space, then pushed the cart into the lot, not caring where it ended up. A man yelled at Cole, pointing to the cart which had impacted into the side of his expensive SUV. Cole waved at him and slammed the trunk down, moving for the drivers door as more gunfire erupted from the interior of the store.

He was in the seat when the man came up and grabbed the drivers door, preventing Cole from closing it. Cole jammed the keys in the ignition and started the car. The man grabbed Cole’s shirt.

“Hey, fucker, you hit my car.”

Cole wrenched free of the man’s grip. “Sorry.”

“Sorry, my ass, I’m gonna kick yours now,” he told Cole, pulling his fist back to punch at Cole.

Cole leaned away from the impending fist and felt the Star dig into his side. Without giving it much thought, Cole pulled out the pistol and jabbed it into the man’s gut. “Get away from my car.”

The man looked down at the pistol, shock and disbelief crossing his features. “You going to shoot me?”

“Yes. Get away from the car.”

“You bastard, I ought to just kick your ass anyway,” said the man, backing away from the pistol.

“You should,” agreed Cole, shutting the door and putting the gear in reverse.

The man raced forward and hit the roof of the Taurus, banging at the metal in frustration and yelling curses. Cole locked the door and stepped on the gas, the pistol still in hand as he screeched out of the parking place, knocking the man down with the fender of the car. He felt the car jolt when he hit the SUV with his bumper, dropped it into drive and left before the man could regain his feet. Cole realized he still had the pistol in hand and put it on the seat beside him. He wiped his hands off on his jeans, knowing he hadn’t been this jacked up since he’d left Baghdad. Breathing deeply to calm himself, Cole pointed the car to the nearest gas station.

The world was very rapidly falling apart.

9 HOURS

Cole was carrying all of his food upstairs. Everything but the items that still needed refrigeration, that was. He’d cleaned out the hall closet and was stacking the food in there. The harness he wore was a bit cumbersome, but Cole didn’t care. He needed to get used to the weight. He was wearing his old Alice gear and the bandolier of 8mm ammo in stripper clips. The Star was in the holster attached to the left suspender for a crossdraw. He’d dug out all his military gear, filled the water bottles and jugs and placed them in the tub in the upstairs bathroom. With all the shooting happening around town, Cole had loaded up the rifle, the shotgun and the pistol, placing ammo near each weapon as needed. He was arranging the upstairs rooms for living in. The news had been full of reports of people dying. People walking after dying. It was just like his movies.

It was scarier.

Billy had called him on his cell, and Cole had given the man a brief account of what had happened at the superstore. Billy said that Scott’s wife was at the hospital, a victim of a car accident on her way home from work. He had not heard from Scott since. After ringing off, Cole called in sick to work, but no one answered. He left a message to cover his ass, just incase, and then had loaded his shotgun into the car and driven over to Scott’s, being closer to the man than Billy. When he drove by, Scott’s house was being looted by a group of teenagers, the plywood ripped off the windows and the glass under broken out leaving the curtains to move listlessly in the slight breeze; Scott’s truck was in the driveway.

One of the teens saw Cole driving by and pointed a pistol at him. Cole punched the gas and sped off. Scott’s neighborhood was being invaded. There were people in the yards arguing and waving baseball bats at other who confronted them with improvised weapons of their own or guns. Cole quickly headed back to his house.

There were no police to be seen.

Cole backed his car into the driveway, backing it firmly against the garage door, aware of the small group of hoods that were walking down the middle of the street drawing even with his drive. They looked as if there were going to start up his drive when Cole stepped out of the car dragging the shot gun after him and placing it on the top of the car. They quickly continued down the street. Opening the gate to the backyard, Cole was about to open the door when a voice called out to him.

“Hey, neighbor,” said the female voice.

Cole gripped the shotgun and turned. It was one of the lesbians from next door. She kept looking over her shoulder.

“Hey, said Cole, aware that he must look like a Platoon-movie reject.

“Can we talk for a second?”

Cole opened the door and motioned for her to enter the dark interior. She did so cautiously, trying to get her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Flipping on a light, Cole made sure the gate was latched and then closed the door.

“What do you need?”

“You seem prepared,” she said.

“I’m not, not really.”

“Listen, let me just put it out there, my and my girlfriend, we want to know if we can hole up with you.”

“She’s got a kid right?”

“Yes, Ian, he’s eleven.”

Cole sighed and placed the shotgun near the door. “I have food enough for me,” said Cole. “I just spent all morning getting this together. A buddy called and wanted me to check on another one of our friends, and his place is being looted out by a bunch of gang bangers. I pointed my pistol at a dude in the Wal Mart parking lot and then I ran over him. That’s what I’ve gone through to make this place what I hope is safe. What can you bring to the table?”

“Cole, it is Cole, right?” she asked. He nodded. “I’m Teresa. I know it’s a lot to ask, especially since the latest on the news that the cities are being overrun, and all the panic, but we’ve got food, and we’ve got a pistol and some ammo. Jackie is out there right now trying to get more food and find more bullets for the pistol.”

“How much food have you got?” asked Cole.

“I don’t know.”

“Well, if you can call her, tell her to buy up rice, beans, any kind of veggies and fruits she can and oil. Forget the rest of the stuff, the stupid stuff. She needs to get batteries and candles, and propane if she can.” Cole considered what he was saying. He sighed. It would be better to have some form of company if things were as bad as they said. Teresa was opening her cell phone even as Cole spoke. She began to speak rapidly and nodding as she spoke. Teresa looked a Cole. “She’s at Sam’s, do you need anything?”

“Toilet paper, lots of it,” decided Cole. “Have her get canned pasta sauces and dough mixes. And rice and dried beans.”

The message was relayed. Teresa hung up the phone. “Ian is getting stuff together incase you said yes.”

Cole sighed. “I suppose that was a yes. Let’s get the side window unblocked so we can just pass the stuff from your place to mine. Is there anyone else in the neighborhood?”

She shook her head. “I’ve been door to door here in the last hour and either everyone else has left, or they’re not answering.”

“Okay,” Cole responded as he picked up the shotgun and went back outside. “Get Ian to start bringing stuff to the window, the food first, then bedding and clothes. Where’s your gun?”

“Jackie’s got it.”

Cole nodded and checked the street before moving around the front of the house. It was amazing how all the stuff he’d picked up in Baghdad was coming back to him. Look before you move, check your Six—he gave small laugh as they started to take the fiberboard off the window. It was all very familiar to him with the sounds of gunshots in the distance and the smell of smoke tainting the air. If only Teresa had been better looking and straight….

4 HOURS

There was no more news.

The major networks were broadcasting old sitcoms. The local station was airing a taped garden show, but every now and again the anchor would come on and in frightened tones update the request that everyone stay inside and off the streets. They urged that people not have contact with any one injured in anyway and report any suspicious activity to the police.

911 was off the hook. It simply rang and beeped when called.

The shooting had gotten worse and then died off. Cole had chased off a group of looters from the street with the Mauser, firing from an upstairs window. He’d shot one of the hoods, the big round dropping the kid in mid strike as he tried to beat down a door with a sledgehammer. The rest had run at the single shot and seeing their cohort fall. Cole watched about a half hour later as the kid he’d shot began to jerk and shake, and then stagger to his feet. He fell off the porch, then managed to get up again and wander in the direction the others had run, bouncing off the cars still parked on the street like a drunk coming home from a bar. He wasn’t sure how he felt about having killed the kid, but was glad that it had stopped people from coming down the street. He could see that if they went on long, they might need the food in those houses to survive.

Jackie and Teresa huddled with Ian on the couch in the blue glow of the screen, watching with the TV volume turned down low as the world collapsed around them. Cole prowled the upstairs, looking out the windows at the darkening sky, keeping a careful eye on the skyline, watching to be sure that none of the smoke he saw started in their direction. He’d done out the dormer window to the roof and sat up there for a while, listening as the city died. The street lights were starting to flick on, their automatic sensors unaware that the lights services were not needed.

They still had to organize the house, decide where everyone was going to sleep, put away the food that Jackie had managed to bring back with her. Cole was glad to see that she had gotten several big tubs of soup mixes, oatmeal and Cream of Wheat, which would add to the variety in the meals. She’d gotten corn meal as well to make corn bread, polenta and whatever else they could come up with. Jackie wore the Glock 9mm at her side and she’d gotten the last two boxes of 9mm from the sporting goods store along with a few boxes of buckshot that had been gathering dust on the shelf.

Cole stood and went back inside through the window. He walked downstairs and looked at the two women.

“Not to sound sexist, but could one of you get some food together? We need to eat, and we need to use up the perishables in case the power goes out,” said Cole. “I suck at cooking, or I’d do it.” He lied.

Teresa stood up. “I need to get away from this stuff anyway.”

Pushing at Ian, Jackie prodded her son off the couch. “I’ll help you get this stuff organized, so will Ian.”

“Mom--,” started the kid and then stopped when he saw the expression on her face. “What do you want me to do?”

“Carry that food to the closet upstairs,” said Cole. “Then we’ll decide from there.”

Ian picked up a couple of bags and dejectedly stomped up the stairs. Jackie stopped Cole.

“Thanks--,” she said.

“Yeah, no problem. It’d be pretty lonely right now,” said Cole.

“Well, thanks again.”

Uncomfortably, Cole motioned to the dark house. “Let’s turn on some lights then see what we can do to make this homey enough for all of us.”

Jackie agreed and while Teresa searched the kitchen to decide her meal, the two of them made plans to rearrange the contents of Cole’s house.

0 HOUR

They’d eaten.

Cole had called Billy and spoken with him for a moment. Billy reported that while they had seen some stray people walking around, they had not been molested. He was saddened to hear about Scott, and they shared a moment over his death before Cole turned off the phone to save the battery if he needed it.

The house was rearranged.

The dead walked the street.

A slow trickle at first, then more, until it was packed with the moving, groaning figures of the staggering Zombies. Cole could just hear their cries through the double paned windows and was glad he had gotten the replacement panes when he bought the house. Still, it was distracting to hear. They had light a cookie dough candle to try and mask the faint odor of blood. Each of them flinched when a ghoul banged on the fiberboard or the front door. They had not figured out how to breach the stockade fence to the backyard or the gate between the drive and the back porch, so the four of them were close to the back wall, sitting in the darkness.

“Dinner was good,” tried Cole.

“Very,” agreed Jackie.

Teresa said nothing. Ian had his head phones on and was playing some kind of handheld game. His eyes were wide and afraid in the dim glow of the small screen.

The TV had gone out during dinner.

Cole stood. “I’m going to make another round.”

He walked down the stairs, checking the windows and doors. Beyond, in the darkness, the undead moved and howled.

Cole went back upstairs.

The street lights cast their shadows and the city died.
Last edited by doc66 on Mon Dec 31, 2007 11:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by OneManArmy » Fri Dec 22, 2006 3:14 pm

Very cool story with a nice lesson behind it!
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Post by AwPhuch » Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:09 pm

Awesome story. Countdown to destruction!!!

and for all the Walmarters...see how fast it fell apart...would you want to be there...would you want a lovedone to be there when it all went to hell and the bullets started flying!?

Keep it up man...or is it finished?
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Post by doc66 » Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:34 pm

This one is finished. However a you might be seeing the characters, at least one of them, again in another story.

Doc
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Post by Politenessman » Fri Dec 22, 2006 6:51 pm

I got completely sucked into this story.
I love the way you write Doc, I find it really easy to visualize, and it flows exceptionally well.
Nice Job Sir!
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Post by OTTB » Fri Dec 22, 2006 7:51 pm

Awsome story. I liked the countdown. It really made you go "What happens next? Whats next?"
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Post by Impus » Fri Dec 22, 2006 10:18 pm

Thanks again, Doc.
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Post by doc66 » Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:35 am

With people rereading or reading for the first time, Hannah, Owen and Cole, I thought I'd give this short a bump since it introduces Cole.

Doc
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Post by Makarov » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:05 pm

Nice bump Doc :D
I read the story when you first wrote it, but damn it was still a good read the second time around. I hope you're still trying to get you're book published, as I'm sure people would have the same pleasure of reading you're stuff as I have.
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Post by SilentVectorX » Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:45 am

Hey, you shoulda pointed out this one sooner Doc!
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Post by Roknrandy » Mon Feb 25, 2008 6:19 pm

Politenessman wrote:I got completely sucked into this story.
I love the way you write Doc, I find it really easy to visualize, and it flows exceptionally well.
Nice Job Sir!
Ditto!
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Post by Ronin71XS » Tue Feb 26, 2008 3:13 am

doc66 wrote:With people rereading or reading for the first time, Hannah, Owen and Cole, I thought I'd give this short a bump since it introduces Cole.

Doc
The Man does it again, good intro Doc!
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Post by David12 » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:45 pm

Wow very good, just as good as owen's story. I cant wait until you become a published author.
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by LittleTeapot » Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:20 pm

NICE!!!!!!!!!!

That was a VERY good read. Thanks for sharing!

I'm bookmarking this post.
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by dixieboy30513 » Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:13 pm

wow I love this story, thanks for writing it
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by The Mrs. » Mon Jul 02, 2012 7:21 am

I just finished this. Very nice. Loved the countdown style. :)
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by doc66 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 8:52 am

Thanks for the read. I like this world, I just haven't gotten back into it lately.
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by The Mrs. » Mon Jul 02, 2012 11:10 am

That's the thing with stories we put on paper...we can always come back and relive it all over again. :)
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by OTTB » Mon Jul 02, 2012 12:56 pm

Never realized it until just now but the kid that Cole shoots presumably wasn't bitten (ambiguity I like it) but he gets up anyway. Make me think the virus is airborne or some such (much like the Umbrella Corp T Virus). Always good to come back and read stories you like over.
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by doc66 » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:06 pm

OTTB wrote:Never realized it until just now but the kid that Cole shoots presumably wasn't bitten (ambiguity I like it) but he gets up anyway. Make me think the virus is airborne or some such (much like the Umbrella Corp T Virus). Always good to come back and read stories you like over.
Hummm.....
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by DTyra » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:44 pm

Excellent read, Doc. Like many others I've read this before, but it's well worth reading again.
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Re: 36 Hours; a short story

Post by T.J. McFadden » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:03 pm

Okay, okay, I'm pulled in- I really REALLY want to see what happens next! I liked that his guns weren't the latest supercool weapons, but a mix of whatever he was able to pick up. He does seem a little slow- perhaps suffering from some PTSD in the mix? Also, kudos: most zombie stories ignore the social disintegration/gangs & looters angle of the zombie apocalypse. Some of the replies mention that these characters are in other stories as well- which ones? Pleeeeeeeeeeeease?
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