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Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:06 pm
being fairly new here and really not wanting to piss anyone off I would like to say I really like your story and the others that tie into it, but I have waited almost 2 weeks now I WANT MORE now !!!!! could you please do write more.
Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:25 pm
Yeah, I can do that. I just said this morning to Shorty, "I need to write on Cole" and she said, "Yes, you do."
I've been writing on Pat and the DP stuff and another Sci-Fi story of mine, I will work on Cole this weekend.
Thanks for the interest!
Posted: Fri Mar 28, 2008 2:29 pm
And fine work your doing too, but I'm greedy and want it all. seriously though I have been following all of your stuff here. I have never liked "zombie" fiction before I found this forum, and started reading your suff and a few others. thanks for showing me the light.
Posted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 3:17 pm
Come on Doc! Stop trolling the furry sites and write something....
Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:02 pm
The bitter wind cut through their clothing and sent the snow swirling across the parking lot. The Marathon station was dark and the shelving empty. Cole stood beside Owen as he stared at the building, wondering what the other man was thinking as he looked at the concrete structure. The man absently petted the big Shepherd, George, as he silently stared at the building. Behind them the crew of the tractor trailer was busily working to drop the hoses down into the tanks so they could fill up the barrels, tanks of the vehicles and the numerous containers they had assembled for transporting the fuel. There were also several people from the Lodge with them; they had negotiated with Emma to come along this far and get more fuel in their own barrels and tanks for the Lodges generator and the vehicles they had. They had brought the bus, loaded with barrels, and several of the better running vehicles. The only stipulation was they had to wait until Emma’s crew was finished.
The small town of Perrysville lay to their east, and so far, nothing was coming from that direction. Owen had told them that the last time he was in town there were just a few of the undead in the town. Regardless, Emma had posted pickets in the three directions they had not as of yet been to give them early warning in case the hordes of zombies suddenly appeared. Cole turned as the sound of the generator cit through the cold air. The sound made all of the people look, and tense up. The small generator was being used to operate the pumps so they could get the fuel up without having to try and siphon it through the vent plugs. Owen gave a small laugh as he adjusted his MAC on it’s sling, causing the dog to perk up its ears.
“If that don’t bring ‘em, nothin’ will.”
“How many of these buildings did you go into?” asked Cole.
Owen looked around at the dark houses and the small businesses. “Most of them close to the tracks. I used the tracks to get from Coulter and back. Since I never had too many people to help out, I always hit places that didn’t take much in the way of manpower.”
“What about the school?” asked Cole. “Isn’t it right down the road?”
“Yep,” agreed Owen, squatting to play with some gravel on the asphalt, bringing the dog next to him to investigate what had drawn the man’s attention on the ground. On discovering the gravel the animal snorted and sat.
“There’ll be stuff in the kitchen, right?”
“That’s where foods usually kept,” said Owen.
“What aren’t you saying?” pried Cole.
Owen sighed and stood up. “Listen, I just think that a building that big is askin’ for trouble. I started to go in there once, but I got out real quick. There were a bunch’a ‘em in there and I just didn’t want to risk my life for a few cans of food. I was doin’ enough at the time.”
Cole nodded that he heard Owen. “Okay, but we’ve got people this time, and the advantage of the guns with silencers. I think we can do this without much problem.”
“I say save ya’lls strength for Loudonville,” advised Owen.
“Maybe, but you’ve got your home all ready,” decided Cole. He looked at where the refugees that were with him were standing, trying to look like they were on guard, but mostly looking lost. Emma and her crew knew what they were about and they had the task well in hand. Looking back at Owen, Cole nodded at the refugees. “They need something to bring them together, give then a little confidence in what they are doing. I think that the school might just give them that boost they need.”
“Hey, they’re ya’lls people,” shrugged Owen. “I’m just a gunner.”
Rather than continue the conversation with Owen, Cole moved over to where Emma stood with Kyle, directing the placement of the barrels and the next in line to be filled. She looked up as Cole approached, he expression composed and happy. When Cole stopped, she grinned and slapped the top of the barrel they were standing by. “Good haul, we’ve got diesel and enough gas to fill and sell. They must have gotten a shipment right before everything went to shit.”
“That’s good,” encouraged Cole. “Listen, Emma, I want to hit the school.”
She stopped and stared at him for a second. “We need to fuel up first.”
“I thought we could do that while you gas up,” said Cole.
“I don’t need you stirring shit up while I trying to full these tanks,” returned Emma. “This is a job that requires time and my people can’t do it if they are trying to fight off the undead while we pump.”
Cole waved a hand at the town. “Emma, there’s been nothing moving but us for the last half hour. You’ve got all the pumps going, and it shouldn’t take long to get what you need.”
“Cole, have you ever tried to gas up a Hummer or a tractor rig? They take forever. Plus we’ve got the barrels to fill as well. There’s two diesel pumps, they won’t get done what we need in any amount of time.”
“Which is why we should go ahead and hit the school,” said Cole. “We’re still waiting on the other team to tell us they are at the ranger station, right? Okay, while we wait and you pump, I’m going to take my people and get into that school. I’m not asking, Emma.”
Cole saw the flash of anger across Emma’s face and then watched as she struggled to get it under control. She worked her jaw for a second before sighing. “This really needs to wait.”
“I don’t think that we’re accomplishing anything by waiting around for you to get done. If anything it’s making my people worse. I need to give them something to do--.”
“I can find something.”
“Something other than busy work,” clarified Cole. “Why are you giving me such a hard time about this?”
Emma looked around that the people that were standing nearby and then pulled Cole of to one side. “Listen, I told Hannah, I wouldn’t let you do something stupid.”
Cole felt the anger rise again. “So you’re telling me that you are now my keeper?”
“I said that I’d get you back safe--.”
“I’ll get back safe, Emma, I’m a big boy now,” Cole told her petulantly. Emma shook her head and decided to give up the battle.
“Fine. Take Owen with you.”
“Just Owen?” snapped Cole sarcastically.
“You shouldn’t need any more than Owen,” returned Emma. “You’ve got enough people otherwise.” She paused as Cole struggled to find something to say. “And that dog, take the fucking dog too.”
Staring at her for a long second, Cole decided that the comment did not deserve an answer and simple turned away to walk toward the eight people who had volunteered to accompany him on the quest to gain admittance into the Lodge. Billy was with them, and looked up at him when he approached.
“Hey, I’ve been going over their new toys,” said Billy, indicating the mix-match of weapons they held. Most were cast-offs that Emma’s crew had traded in for the better firearms from the armory at the base. Some of them were rigged up with the suppressors that the Lodge made, others were not. “Kind of helping them through the basics. What’s up?”
“We’re going on a shake down raid,” said Cole. He saw the faces of the people fall. He supposed until this point the idea of the raid had not really been a reality to them. In an effort to bolster their confidence, Cole gave a small laugh. “We’re going to go into the school and hit the cafeteria kitchen. It’s not like we’ll be fighting the whole town by ourselves. Besides, how difficult can a room full of third graders be to handle?”
He got the laugh he had been looking for and laughed with them. The joke helped to relieve some of the tension he saw in them. Motioning them closer, Cole outlined his plan. “Now I’ve never been to the school before, so we’re going to be doing some scouting first. We’ll take the van and I’m going to bet we can find it by driving around the outside of the building and identifying the place by the loading doors. The guys with the silencers will be going in first. Bob and Carl, you’ll be prying open the door for us, once that’s done and we clear the inside, you come in and get the next doors. Out only goal is to hold the cafeteria; we’re not here to clear the school. Let’s get what we can as far as flour, boxed and canned foods and get out. Okay, any questions?”
“What if we get enough stuff from the school?” asked one of the people in a nervous tone.
“We won’t” assured Cole, heading off the thoughts that they could stop with this small raid. “We’ve got to get enough for to supplement the Lodge food for the next few months. The school will get us all through a week, maybe two.”
The gathered looked uncomfortable again. Cole tried to find the words that would get them back on track and in the right mindset when Owen came limping up with the Shepherd in tow. He was dragging a bag on the ground behind him. The refugees stared as he let the bag come to a rest in front of them. He and Cole nodded to each other as Owen undid the top of the bag. Inside it was various sized flashlights. “If ya’ll’re goin’ in there, you’ll need these. It’s dark an big in the cafeteria.”
“You’ve been in there?” demanded one of the people. “What is it like?”
Owen shrugged. “I have been, once. It’s dark an’ big, like I said. There’s a lot of dead kids in there,” warned Owen. “Ya’ll better be ready to be uncomfortable.”
They all cast glances at each other, the looks becoming more and more uncomfortable and scared. Cole stepped up and grabbed a flashlight. He nodded to the rest of the instruments as he tested the one he picked up. “You got any duct tape? We can attach these to our guns with that.”
Someone came up with a roll and Cole strapped the thing to his carbine. “Everybody get one for yourself.” As they reluctantly began to emulate Cole, he pulled Owens aside. “What the fuck is your deal?”
“I have no deal,” sighed Owen. “None. I’m cold, I really think that you’re getting these people into more than they should be. Look at them Cole, they ain’t like you, ain’t like me, hell, they ain’t even like Chelsea and she’s like ten. I don’t know what happened to ‘em out there at that farm, but they’re beat up, Cole. Somebody kicked the shit outta ‘em and didn’t let ‘em up. Goin’ into that school ain’t gonna change that. It might even kill a couple of ‘em.”
“So you’re saying lay back and let Emma do it all,” demanded Cole.
“I’m sayin’ don’t get in over your head, Cole,” warned Owen. “I’m sayin’ geve these folks a chance to breath before ya start leadin’ ‘em into a situation where they might lose it.”
Sighing out a breath of cold air, Cole looked at the eight people who were waiting on them to join them. He could see that they were tired, scared and even unsure of what they were going to do once they got to the school. He also knew that there was no real choice in the matter; it was either do this now, or just pack up and go to the Lodge to get kicked out. To Cole, they had to prove their worth now. He told Owen this. “You can stay here if you want, but they have to do this. They have to do it now.”
Owen grinned at him for the first time. “Okay, I’ll go with ya’ll. Emma’d just bitch if I didn’t, besides it give me somethin’ to do other than wait on all this gas and shit to get pumped.” He nodded to where the Lodge people were gassing up their own barrels and containers. “I’m gonna get Jesse, though, he’ll wanna come along.”
Cole smiled back. “He would be pissed if we let him miss it.”
Owen trotted off with George following and Cole went to the refugees. “This it it, folks,” he announced. “You show everyone what you’ve got right here. Remember, we don’t have to clear the whole damn school, just the cafeteria. That’s all we have to hold. Who wants to be a shooter, who wants to start the loading?”
Jack laughed at the question. “You’re giving us a choice? I thought yhou’d be telling us what we’re doing.”
“I can,” said Cole.”
“Than make me a shooter,” said Jack. Cole did so, adding Billy and himself to that list, assigning the others as needed. He pointed to Greg. “You’re the driver and look out. If anything happens outside, you have to be the one to warn us. If we’re all clear, let’s get in the van and ready to go.”
As they were getting in, Owen came back with Jesse. He stopped Cole. “Jesse want’s to just take one of the Lodge trucks with us so that we can load it and save the space in the van. That work?”
Nodding, Cole told him to hurry it up, which got him a playful smack on the shoulder from Jesse. “I’ll meet you at the school.”
Cole climbed into the passenger’s seat while Owen slide the van door shut after George jumped in. Greg let the van roll out of the lot and toward the school. A crackling noise got Cole’s attention and he turned to see Owen talking on a handheld, telling Emma they were moving out. Her reply was short, but at least it was not terse and angry as he expected it to be. As they moved the short few blocks to the school, Cole let his gaze wander over the small town.
There had been a few small house fires, but nothing that had engulfed the entire town. Here and there packs of dogs moved between the dark structures, foraging for food and in one case chasing what looked to be a cat. Cars and trucks had been abandoned in the streets or stopped on the side of the road with doors hanging open. In places, Cole could see the mummified remains of people lying in yards or in the road. He wondered just what those bodies were going to become when the heat of spring came back around and how it was going to affect the living; would there be another plague to worry about in addition to the walking dead? What was going to happen when the flesh began to rot on those mobile creatures, how long would it take for them to become nothing but staggering mummies, yet still intent on seeking the flesh of the living? Cole imagined that one of the many things that they were going to have to do before the full heat of the summer came was to get those dead and undead trapped near the Lodge properly buried or at least burned before they attracted the unsavory legions of rats, flies and other vermin which could easily spread disease to the living.
As the van bumped onto the drive that lead up to the school, Cole turned his attention to the overly large brick building before them. The structure had been built as a small school at first and then as the need dictated, wings were added on until it was a sprawling tribute to the inefficiency of the educational administrations ability to spend money on everything other than education. Playgrounds, a ball field, bleachers and even a large digital score board dominated the area around the school, which itself loomed like a beached whale on the landscape. The windows were still intact, and Cole could see the teachers lot was filled with cars, most of them seemed to have run into each other in their haste to escape. Two buses were locked together and two more had been stopped behind those. Cole absently wondered if any of them still ran. The two that were not crashed together seemed to still be in good shape. If they could get one of those running, they could get more items on board and back to the Lodge.
“Billy—“ started Cole.
“I already know what you want to say,” said his friend. “We need to check.”
“Batteries are dead,” supplied Owen. “I tried once.”
“We can jump them,” said Billy.
“Diesel,” said Owen. “Won’t be that easy.”
“Never is,” sighed Billy. “But if we could.”
“You know where the batteries are in those things?” asked Cole.
“Depends on the make,” Billy told him as they reached the front of the building. “You want to try?”
Billy pointed to one of the men. “Bob, you used to drive a bus right?”
“Tour bus,” said the man. “But yeah. A bus is a bus.”
“Come on,” said Billy, as Owen opened the door while the van rolled to a stop.
“Jumper cables?” asked Owen.
“It was a nice thought,” admitted Owen with a grin as he directed Greg to drive around to the other side of the school. They watched the buses disappear as they drove around the corner of the school. It had been a good idea.
The school cafeteria was nearly at the back of the school, and the loading door sat about five feet up. There was a small concrete pad with a set of stairs leading up to the double doors. The van came to a stop and Cole ordered them all back out in to the weather. Once out in the cold, the reality of what they were doing hit them again. Cole could see their faces fall with the drop in temperature. He decided to not give them time to think about what was going on. Quickly, Cole barked out orders for those with the suppressor to take the lead. He pointed to the two men who had the pry bars, motioning them up the steps and to the doors. Stacking up his people. Cole gave a deep sigh and nodded to them to open the doors. The pry bars were set and the men lunged against the levers, the noise of the doors groaning under the stress was loud in the cold air, and the others waiting winced as the barriers suddenly popped open, revealing the dark interior.
Taking the lead, Cole plunged into the room, clicking the flash light he had affixed to his carbine on, lighting a small path in the big room. The doors opened into the cafeteria itself, and the large room was in a sinister gloom which was barely cut by the bright light. Be felt someone come in behind him and cut to the right as he entered to make room for the next person. He saw Owen enter and begin to move along the wall to the left. Movement caught his eye, and Cole swung the light toward the shape.
The small child caught him off guard. He had known there were undead in the school, he had even warned the others that there were children in the school, but the sight of the small shape, hissing and groaning as it lunged at him, made him pause. The kid could not have been more than eight, but the dead eyes were from another time and place. Dried blood had turned the once blue shirt into a dark raiment that hung off the bones and flowed behind it like a cape from a bad horror movie. It growled at Cole, the clawed hands reaching for him and teeth, large and broken, snapped as it sought its prey. Cole barely had time to bring his M4 up. The beast hit the rifle, knocking it aside and grabbing for Cole.
The sound of the brass chiming off the wall and the bolt working came from behind him, the payload that had been released stopped the kid even as it tried to gnaw on the end of the handguard of the rifle. Blood, thick and old, spurted from the hole in its head. The zombie-child staggered, tried to remain upright and then fell at Coles feet. He turned to see Jack grimacing over the makeshift suppressor on his own pistol.
“Fuckin’ kid,” breathed Jack, his eyes wide and scared. “Fuckin’ kid. What’s the world comin’ to?”
Cole found jack’s cursing humorous and chuckled at the other man, bringing a smile to the other mans face as well. “I told you there would be kids.”
“Yeah, but you lied about the damage they could do,” returned Jack.
Before Cole could answer, there was more movement and just as suddenly, the room was boiling with the undead. Cole found him self firing the M4 as fast as he could, there were what seemed to be hundreds of the kids, crawling, staggering and even some running at them. They fired, their backs against the wall, calling out for magazine changes, for their friends to be careful and they fired at each new, repulsive face that appeared in their lights. Cole shot a kid in the head, fired as another took its place his rounds going high and wide as the thing seemed to dodge and then lunge at him. with the bolt of the carbine locked back, Cole swung the M4 at the thing, knocking it back as it tried to eat him, teeth snapping at the air in front of his face. Jack shot it, and another beast jumped on Jacks back, its mouth tearing at the man’s exposed neck. Jack screamed and tried to dislodge the thing from his back. Cole let the M4 fall and freed his Star, the pistol bucking and clearing the kid off Jack’s back. Jack fell to his knees, his blood dark on his hands as he tried to stem the flow of his life fluid.
Cole fired at the seemingly endless flow of zombies, desperately trying to keep the area around the downed man clear.
And then came Owen, his MAC 10 suddenly pointing at everything, the suppressor spitting out round after round into the massed children that tried to dislodge the living beings foot hold from the door. George the dog followed, snapping and growling at the beasts, knocking them down when they seemed to approach Owen without his knowledge. Owen would then spin and put a single bullet into the fallen things head before moving again, the dog matching his movements. Cole watched as Owen began to move, stiffly at first, the effects of his wounds slowing him for only a moment, and then it was like a dance.
Owen stepped forward in to a gap he had created by shooting two of the little beasts; he shot another, then side stepped as a thing lunged at him from the side. The MAC was suddenly at the things head and it was down barely a whisper as the .45 slug tore through the monsters brain and out its back. Owen shuffled again and fired, the subgun dropping three at once it seemed, all the while Owen moved and shot, clearing a path in front of him. then to the side. His movements seemed to have no rhyme until Cole looked past the man and saw what he was headed for.
Shouting at the others, Cole directed those that could to help Owen. “He’s trying to shut the doors, the doors, keep them from getting behind him.”
The undead children were coming from the main part of the school into the cafeteria, drawn by the noise the scent of warm blood and the possibility of a meal.
Jack was on his feet again, his own pistol taking the close in shots. He pulled Cole to the door side of his body where the others were still standing and shooting.
“I’ll keep ‘em off us, you fuckin’ make sure he gets there,” growled Jack through his pain. Cole swept his M4 off the floor and recharged the weapon. He began to take aimed shots as best he could with the aid of the flashlight.
Owen was halfway across the floor.
He had jumped onto a table, followed by George, using the height to move across the room and stay out of the clutching hands of the children as they reached for the warrior who was defying them. The MAC suddenly stopped, and Cole saw Owen simply drop the weapon to the end of its sling, his hands sweeping his holstered Glocks free with barely a missed beat. The report of the weapons thundered in the cavernous room, drawing more attention to the man, but he still moved across the table tops, leaping from one to the next, the wave of zombies following, some trying to climb up onto the table tops to pull the foe down. George snapped and bite at them slowing them in their efforts to drag his partner from the slick table tops. A few made it to the tables, and those were dispatched by Cole and the rest in their effort to help Owen in his mission to reach the doors leading into the school. The pistols were empty and they too were holstered and yet another was freed by Owen. Cole watched as the injured man cleared a space on the floor in front of the last table with several fast, seemingly unaimed shots and then George was jumping to the ground, knocking several to the floor as Owen followed, reloading the MAC as he dropped.
The short stairs were mounted by the two and the doors slammed shut. Owen turned, and began to work his way back across the room with the Shepherd trailing. They continued to shoot and just as quickly as it started, it was over.
Owen was standing in front of Cole, breathing evenly as he reloaded all of his weapons. He watched as Jack fell to the floor on his face.
“You’re gonna have to do somethin’ about that,” mentioned Owen, nodding to Jack as Cole just stared at the other man.
Glancing down, Cole saw that Jack was starting to breath heavily and knelt by the other man. “Jack, what do you want me to do?”
“Fuck, I want you to finish the job you started,” said Jack. “Prop me up against those doors, with my pistol, I’ll do the rest.”
Nodding, Cole grabbed Jack and with Owen’s help, dragged him through the bloody cafeteria to the doors. On the other side of the door the remaining Zombies hammered at the barrier with small fists, trying to beat it down so they could reach the warmth just inches away. Jack thanked them and urged them to hurry.
Cole turned to find the others staring at the three men. Cole read the shock and defeat on their faces and decided that he needed to keep them from caving under the pressure of their loss.
“You heard the man, get fucking moving now,” snapped Cole. “Don’t make this for nothing.”
As he watched them start for the kitchen, Cole wondered if they had what it would take to see them through the rest of the day.
Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:26 pm
Thank you and thank you.
Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:43 pm
Freakin' short zombies.........................wonder if you can't punt them real good? 8)
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:01 am
Zombies man they creep me out.
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:08 pm
Thanks, keep checking, I'm starting to break the rut I had for a bit.
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 12:14 pm
Thank you for the update, and a very good one it is.
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:07 pm
Just got done reading through everything. Awesome work, 'nuff said.
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:53 pm
That is a really good update Doc.
Keep it up.
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:11 pm
Yet another great update, not to sound impolite but do you have a plan for the next segment yet?
Sorry I'm just impatient
Posted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 8:49 pm
All I can say is.................................. yes.
Posted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:02 pm
Good 'cause I'm hankering a little fix about now.....
Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:28 am
finally getting back into some owen action
Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:40 am
I've started teh next part and if Hank Jr weren't in town this weekend, I'd have it finished, but well...
Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:59 am
Keep em coming as you can Doc, they are always worth the wait.
Posted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 9:53 am
I've gotten totally hooked on Hannah, Owen and Cole, looking forward to the next chapter!
Posted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:34 pm
Hank was great. I wish he would have played longer and I had more Jim Beam.
What a show. Back too writing now.
Posted: Thu Apr 17, 2008 3:02 pm
Doc, I love your stuff, but unless you and Eric are working on the next Alive Inside podcast, you'd be well served to post some more story, either here or in the group write project.
j/k I know you can't rush greatness.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 6:49 am
The kitchen held only two undead, and they were dispatched quickly. Jesse had arrived with the Lodge truck by then and took the news of the loss of Jack with a grim face.
“We can’t afford to loose too many people,” he said angrily. “There aren’t enough of us left in the world.”
He then left them to the stores in the kitchen and went to where Jack sat against the door, struggling to keep focused. Cole let Jesse go, staying to direct the loading of the supplies. All in all it was a good haul; they got over three hundred pounds of flour, sugar, baking mixes and assorted dry goods like salt, pepper and other seasonings. The canned goods amounted to cases of tomato sauces, baked beans, green beans and corn, as well as pastas of various kinds. Cases of applesauce, pears, peaches and mixed fruit were carted out of the storage rooms as well. There was so much going out that Cole lost track of the inventory and had to assign another person to the task of tracking their take. He gave them a clipboard that had been hanging on the wall, probably for inventory purposes, and told her to write down everything that went out the door. When it was finished, they all partook in opening a juice box in celebration of their first raid. While the others relaxed for a second, Cole took two of the boxes to where Jesse and Jack sat.
Jack was looking very poor. His face was ashen and sweat soaked his clothing. He grinned weakly at Cole as the man sat down next to him and opened the box for him. Jack took the box, sipped at the small straw with a thankful expression.
“I was getting thirsty,” he told them. “I always thought my last drink would be a beer or something. I was quite the drinker before all this,” the dying man informed them, “Best thing to happen to me, I guess. The end of the world helped me where the twelve step never could. I got 3 DUI’s and four suspensions under my belt. Hell I was at the bar when all this happened. I didn’t leave until I had drunk all the stock.”
Jack gave Cole and Jesse a harsh laugh. “To be brought down by a fucking third grader, I tell you what, life just don’t make sense.” The door behind him banged as the undead tried to find a way to bring it down. “Fuckers.”
“We’re about ready to go,” mentioned Cole.
“Figured that,” Jack hefted the pistol. “Shit, you might as well take this with you.”
Before Jesse and Cole could say anything, Jack put the end of the suppressor under his chin and pulled the trigger. The round popped out the top of Jack’s head, spattering blood and brain on the door, covering the hole that the bullet made in the wood. Cole stared as the man’s body suddenly sagged and the pistol dropped to his lap. Jesse reached over and took the firearm and the magazines that Jack had laid next to him on the floor.
“Let’s go,” said Jesse, standing.
Cole hesitated and placed a hand on the dead mans shoulder. “I’m sorry, Jack.”
There was nothing else that he could think of to say. He did not know if Jack had anyone waiting back at the Lodge, and if he did, what was Cole going to tell them? There was no sense to be made of the death, Jacks death or any of the other deaths that had occurred since the beginning of the plague. Cole thought briefly about a man that had helped him survive, someone who, as far as Cole knew, never even lived to see the first day. A co-worker, and a friend of Billy’s, Scott had help Cole get everything together so that he could survive the first months of the Pandemic which had swept the world. Good people had died because of the virus, and those were still dying. He stood and he and Jesse walked to the kitchen where the others were finishing up gathering anything that might be useful to the Lodge. They had filled the truck and lashed the load down already and were now just trying to keep busy. Cole made a quick sweep of the storage area and the kitchen to be sure nothing had been missed, then ordered everyone out to the van. Owen was already in the vehicle, resting his leg and petting the dog. When Owen saw Cole he jerked a thumb in the direction of the Marathon station.
“Emma says that she’s just about done over there. We’re supposed to check to see if the bridge is up or down when we’re done here.”
Nodding, Cole fought with his emotions at the death of Jack as he made sure no one else had been left behind. “We can do that. Jesse, you going with us or to the Lodge?”
His face impassive, Jesse shook his head. “I’m headed to the Lodge, I was told that my services were gonna to be needed back there. I take it that means I’m takin’ too many risks, or they wanna to vote me out of office for some reason and they wanna to see my face when they do it. Either way, this is your and Emma’s gig now. You be careful, there’s a woman back there who thinks she likes you.”
“I will,” assured Cole.
Jesse stomped back to the truck and the loaded vehicle headed back to the gas station. Cole climbed in the can and instructed Greg to head for the bridge.
They left the school and drove down 39 through the middle of the small town, acutely aware of the empty seat that had been left by Jack’s passing. The town had a vacant slightly, disturbing feel to it as they passed by the empty houses and store fronts. Vehicles had been abandoned in the intersection, creating a jam which they had to drive through a yard to get around, The path around the loggerhead put them in to the parking pot of the local ice cream place. Since it advertised other foods a well, Cole had Greg stop the van so that he and Billy could investigate it for more food stuffs they could load up on. Billy grabbed the pry bar and the two of them popped the metal door open. Together, they quickly checked the interior of the shop. It was a small kitchen area with a closet-like storage area. The two of them cleaned off the shelves, putting the finds in the small cargo area of the van. Some one else mentioned the shed that sat at the back of the property and Cole gave to okay to search it. There were more dry and canned goods in it and they took everything right down to the sugar cones for the ice cream.
While they worked, it was hard to ignore the silence which covered the town, Other than a dog barking occasionally, there was no other noise but the wind and the branches of the tress rubbing together. One of the Refugee’s mentioned this and Cole agreed with her.
“It’s like the world just died, isn’t it?” said Cole. “I wonder what happened to all the people who lived here? Did they go someplace else, trying to find a safe place?”
“No clue,” said the woman. “It’s kind of strange that all the kids would be in school, but the parents are absent from the town all together.”
Cole looked back in the direction that they had traveled. “Maybe everyone was in the school, they were just behind another door.”
“I’m curious, but not suicidal,” she told Cole. “If they are, let ‘em stay.”
Giving her a short laugh, Cole did a quick head count and had them load back into the van. They left the ice cream shop and continued on their route. They passed apartment buildings, empty looking and dark in the snow. Other than animal tracks, there seemed to be no other life in the town. Another set of buildings had burned leaving behind a dirty smear on the landscape. Billy pointed the gutted buildings out.
“Someone was here after the snow, those buildings just burned; there’s no snow on them at all.”
They watched the fire damaged husks slide past, wondering just what had happened to the people inside. After a moment, the bridge was before them. Other than a couple of vehicles blocking the lanes, the span seemed intact. On the other side was the canoeing campground, which was littered with sagging tents and more cars and trucks. It appeared that they had tried to set up a refugee camp of sorts at the campground at one point. It was anyone’s guess what had happened after that. Cole ordered people out and told them to stay with partners, giving them fields of fire to protect while he and Owen checked the bridge to be sure that it was safe to travel.
The three of them; Cole, Owen and George, carefully made their way to the bridge to investigate. George seemed to be unconcerned about the little trek and the animals easy attitude infected Cole. They reached the cars and saw that they had been put on the span to keep traffic on one side or the other. Cole wondered aloud just which side they were trying to stop.
“The other side,” guessed Owen. “Look at how they are set up, they were trying to create a funnel for shooting.”
“There’s no bodies,” pointed out Cole.
“They didn’t need the barricade like they thought they would.”
“Or everyone died before they could use it.”
The two stepped out onto the bridge. Under the layer of snow, the thing seemed as solid as it could be. Owen suggested that they go under the bridge to look at it from that vantage point a there might be something that they were missing. They moved to the edge and slipped over the guard rail to the abutment. George whined to join them , but Owen told the animal to stay put, assuring the dog that they would be right back. They started down the bank to look under the bridge, sliding on the snow covered gravel. Owen cursed as his foot rolled under him and barely managed to catch himself from falling. Cole bent to see what Owen had slipped on.
“What?” asked Owen. Cole pointed out the offender.
“Oh. Fuck. They’re all over.”
Owen had slipped on a skull. There were dozens of them, maybe over a hundred of the broKerry spheres. To go with the skulls were bones, many, many bones. All different sizes. The bones lay scattered over the banks of the river, in the water and along the gravel that kept the earth from being washed away by the river.
“I guess we know where the bodies went,” muttered Cole.
“Yeah, but where are the shooters?” wondered Owen, with a glance around at the horizon.
“Fuck this,” decided Cole. “The bridge looks fine from here.”
“I’d say so,” agreed Owen.
The two men clambered back up the bank to the road. They hurried to the van, calling in the people as they returned. Owen got on the radio to Emma, explaining that the bridge looked sturdy, but would need cleared. She told them to wait for her arrival. Owen and Cole nervously looked around at the few buildings that were nearby, peering hard at each window and roof top as they did so. The two men did this often enough that the other began to ask what the problem was. Cole shook his head.
“Nothing, it just doesn’t feel right.” He told them. “Keep an eye out. You never know.”
They returned to their watch, still casting curious glances at the two men. Billy pulled Cole aside.
“Seriously, what is going on?”
Cole glanced to be sure they could not be overheard. “There’s about a hundred dead people under that bridge.”
“Jesus, what killed them?”
“No clue. To far gone. Just keep an eye out.”
Billy assured him he would and returned to his fire position.
They waited in the cold for Emma and the Highlanders. Thankfully it was not a long wait. In the duration, they saw nothing, heard nothing, but spooked themselves by thinking they might have. Cole was glad for the rumble of the big diesel rig and the Hummers. The heavy engine noise made him feel safer; the .30 and .50 caliber guns mounted to the tops helped. Emma appeared with Kyle in tow. She investigated the barricade as well, declaring that they could moved the cars with no problem.
“Are you sure the bridge is safe?”
Owen and Cole both nodded.
“You went under and checked?”
They nodded again.
She bit her lip. “I wish Nick were still alive, he was a road engineer. He’d know for sure.”
“It’s fine,” said Owen.
“Maybe I should go look,” she decided.
“No,” drawled Owen. He looked around and saw that it was just the four of them. “The problem was not the instability of the bridge. The problem was the guns that guarded it. They threw a lot of bodies over the edges and into the water and on the shore.”
Emma walked over to the edge and looked down. She could see where they had disturbed the bones from under the snow. “Both sides?”
“No clue, let’s just get moving so they don’t try to make us next.”
Leaving the two of them standing on the bridge, Emma called Kyle over and began to bark out instructions. The Highlanders jumped to carry out her orders, and a Hummer roared up to the derelict vehicles while chains were attached to the wrecks. The first vehicle was yanked out of the way and the second HUMVEE raced across the bridge, the snout of the big machinegun sweeping the road ahead, like a dog that was on the hunt. The Hummer stopped up the road a bit and idled while other Highlanders hooked up the other vehicles and began to pull them out of the way of the tractor trailers. Owen shrugged at Cole as the big rig growled past them and with George trailing, made his way to where the van sat. Two more vehicles raced by when Cole cast a last look over the edge of the bridge, giving a fleeting thought as to what might have happened and then followed Owen to the van. He took his seat as Greg pulled the van onto the bridge.
The last Hummer followed them and the little convoy was on the way to Loudonville. Owen had his ear bent to the radio and after a moment, looked up at Cole and grinned.
“The others are at the ranger station, Emma gave them the go ahead to start attracting Zombies,” He announced. “I hope that the plan works, it’ll make our job a whole lot easier.”
“How much worse could it be?”
“Not as bad as Mansfield,” admitted Owen. “But just how many more times do you want to fight like we did in the school?”
“None,” agreed Cole. He looked out at the farm land passing by. If he did not know that the world had ended, the landscape did not look much different than it would have before all the dead began to rise. The major difference was the amount of crops that had been left standing in the field and the live stock which roamed the stalks. “Too bad we don’t have room for some of those.”
“Hell, we find a trailer rig, we might just come back and get some.”
“The Lodge already has cattle,” mentioned someone.
“They have milk cows,” corrected another. “Not cattle. That’s why they don’t have a lot of beef to eat there. They only get fresh when something happens to the cow. They got lots of farmers cheese and curd and all that, but the cows are too valuable as milkers to eat.”
“When’d you become Farmer John?”
“I was raised on a farm.”
The discussion continued back and forth as Owen leaned up to where Cole sat. “He’s right you know; a few beef cows would go along way to makin’ the Lodge a better place.”
“One thing at a time.” Cole sighed and looked down the road at where the rig was puffing up a cloud of smoke to make a rise.
Owen sat back and scratched George’s head.
The convoy passed the farms, and Cole made mental notes as to what he could see from the road. They would have to return to these farms in the spring and see just what they could scavenge and salvage from them to keep the people alive at the Lodge if things did not take turn for the better on a global scale. Food would continue to be scarce, and places that did not do anything to sustain themselves would fall apart and die off. They would have to find away to make it work; there was not enough tillable land around the Lodge to support close to two hundred people. If more came, or even if they just had offspring, the population would out grow the resources. They would have to start finding a way to house more people, settle the abandoned land around the Lodge and farm, but still be able to support the population if needed, with the Lodge acting as a stronghold, like the old castles of the middle ages.
Cole wondered how many other people had thought about those things, and at the same moment, realized that those were the reasons that the Lodge Council had been reluctant to add thirty more people to the population of the stronghold; they were worried about the added numbers destroying the balance they had. The food they would bring in today would be a simple stop gap measure, but it would not sure the long term problem.
There may not be a cure for the long term.
The bitter thought made Cole shift uncomfortably in his seat.
Was the world at the place where nothing they did mattered? With the virus coursing through his and everyone alive’s blood, there was no end to the threat of the rise of the dead. The only cure was the annihilation of humanity. Unless, unless someone was working toward a cure. That was their only hope; that some scientist out there was still alive and working for the antivirus that would keep all of them alive, a treatment of some kind which would reverse the process of dying into the walking hell.
The thought of the cure held Cole for a long moment until Greg announced that they were reaching the outskirts of Loudonville. The houses became more evenly spaced as they headed into town, and soon the High School was looming on their left, another brick structure that only served to remind Cole of the building in Perrysville. He saw that the semi was turning into the lot of the school and felt his own blood run just a little colder, despite the heat in the van.
“We’re not really going in there, are we?’ muttered someone at the back of the van.
“Looks like it,” came the return reply.
“Hey, ain’t that Kerry’s place?” piped up one of the men.
Cole turned to look at him. “Who?”
“Kerry’s, the gunsmith. Lives right there, his shops out back.”
Owen and Cole shared a brief look and Owen got on the radio to inform Emma that they were taking a brief detour. She came back quickly, telling them to hurry up. Owen signed off and the van dove into the gravel parking area in front of the converted garage. It bucked and jerked as it bounced over what looked to be snow covered logs in the drive. They all knew instinctively that the logs were not made of wood. After a second of staring, everyone piled out of the van and into the cold air. All were wondering just what to expect; many pondered if Kerry were still alive, barricaded in his house and sighting in on them even as they stood in the yard. The snow that was on the ground covered bodies, many of them. The van had bounced over them and crushed the husks under the tires, leaving behind broKerry bones and the smell of death that had been released from the core of the corpses.
“You think he’s home?” asked the man who had recognized the place.
“One way t’ find out,” said Owen. He marched up to the door of the shop and pounded on the surface. Nothing happened. Pointing at the house, he assigned three people to investigate the interior. Than, without further conversation, Owen took his big boot to the door of the shop. The door splintered and bent, but stayed. Cole stopped him.
“Pry bar, you may need that foot later.”
One of the pry bars was brought and after a few false starts the door was popped off the frame, destroying the facing and the frame around it. Owen stepped into the shop with his MAC at the ready. Cole came behind him, and they both let the air out in a long whistle. The racks were full of various kinds of rifles, shotguns and pieces of firearms of all types. Pistols littered the surface of the tables; revolvers and semi-autos of varying makes and types were also in pieces, some in boxes to keep parts together, some just laying out as if Kerry had walked away to eat lunch and return. On the far wall were two Dillon Presses and all kinds of reloading dies. Racked on shelves were powders, bullets and primers. Next to the presses were boxes and boxes of green, military style ammo containers. They gravitated over while the others slowly filed in. Owen picked up an ammo can and popped the lid. Inside were .45 ACP. He picked one up and inspected it.
“I claim this,” he said after a moment. He then sat down and began to load his used MAC magazines. Cole opened another and found 9mm. grabbing a handful, he ordered everyone to reload their own mags and then when they were finished, to load the van with everything not nailed down; even the firearms in pieces.
The three came back from the house.
“Nothing, no people, nothing, it was open,” said one. “There’s a shit load of ammo and a couple of big gun safes, though. He’s got about a years worth of those end of the world dried food cans down in his basement, too.”
Turning to Owen, Cole pointed at the radio. “Call Emma and tell her we need another vehicle to haul for us. We’re not going to have room in the van.”
“Why don’t we try to get his truck running?” asked someone. They pointed to a big crew-cabbed Dodge sitting outside.
“Let’s see if we can find the keys.”
“There’s a key rack by the door as you go in,” informed the man who had gone into the house. Struggling to remember his name, Cole gave up and told him to go get the keys and they’d try to find cables to jump it as well. As the man ran off, Cole decided was going to have to start learning names.
“You still want Emma?” asked Owen, finishing off a magazine and began loading another. He apparently had been toting the empty MAC mags that they had no ammo for in his dump pouch just case they found something like this.
Shaking his head, Cole told him to wait. “Let’s see if we can get this started first.”
Finished loading his own pistol mags, Cole searched and found an ammo crate of .223. Opening it, he started on the AR mags he had with him; others began to carry boxes out to the van. The man came back with the keys. Together, he and Cole went out to the truck, the keys worked, popping open the door. Inside was a tool box and in the box, Cole found jumper cables. He grinned as he held them up for the other to see.
“Tell Greg to move the van over here.”
AS the van maneuvered to the hood of the Dodge, Cole hooked up the cables and they held their breath while the van’s engine labored under the strain of juicing the big Hemi. The truck groaned, hiccupped, and than roared to life. Disconnecting the cables, Cole put them back in the tool kit. He glanced at the gas gauge. Better than halfway to full.
“Lets get that stuff up here,” said Cole.
They headed down to the basement and started a chain gang line to load the dried foods into the bed of the truck. The shop was emptied as well, and all the items were crammed into every empty space that they could find. A couple of the refugees traded up yet again in firepower. The ammo in the basement and shop amounted to hundreds of thousands of rounds of everything from .22 to .45-70. Cole assumed that the .45-70 rifles were in the safes in the basement since there had not been one in the shop. Owen came up to Cole and handed him a 1911 pistol.
“What’s this?” asked Cole.
Owen grinned. “A full house custom pistol. Built on a Caspian Arms frame, looks like it’s got a few Ed Brown parts and a National Match barrel and bushing. Thought you should take it instead of one of these other heathens.”
Cole spied a similar one shoved into Owen’s belt. “You recommending it than?”
Taking the hefty pistol, Cole made sure that it had a magazine in the grip and a round in the chamber. He put it in the pocket of his heavy coat. Owen handed him several loaded magazines for it as well, which went into another packet.
“Emma wants to know if we’re about done,” said Owen.
“Tell her soon.”
“When we’re done, we’re goin’ in the school,” warned Owen.
Cole nodded. She would have to wait.
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 7:41 am
Posted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:51 pm
Ah man it seemed to end so soon
But I love that guys house, reminds me a bit of my uncles place.