Jesse

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doc66
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Jesse

Post by doc66 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:16 pm

Well, after a few months of hiatus, here's a story for you all. Jesse has been bugging me to get out, and since the weather broke, I figured it was time to listen to him. Welcome back Jesse.





“I ain’t here to save anybody,” said Jesse.

The expressions on faces that were looking at him fell. Jesse looked over to Mitch, who was shrugging and trying to ignore the people who were watching them load the Toyota. The old Land Cruiser has seen better days, but the last few weeks had been harder than usual on the SUV. The grating covering the windows was dented and in some places it was missing chunks completely. There wasn’t a straight panel left on the yellow beast, and bare metal showed in more than one place through the paint. Mitch dropped the sleeping bag into the cargo area and then made his way to the driver’s door.

“But you can get us out of here,” came the quiet protest.

Jesse sighed and pointed to the surrounding wall that the people had managed to erect during the cold winter months. While it was not as pristine as the one that surrounded The Lodge, they also did not have the advantage of being on a peninsula which thrust into the heart of a large lake. The wall itself surrounded a motley collection of trailers, a single house, make-shift tent-huts and a big tractor-trailer with WalMart emblazoned on the side of the trailer. They had been living off the items found in the trailer, which had been driven to the location by the driver who had been fleeing a horde of undead. The trailer was mostly empty now, with the unused or unwanted contents laying in heaps around the trailer and yard. In the air hung the stench of the open latrine they had dug off to one side and in the warm spring air, the odor assaulted Jesse’s nostrils. He wondered just how they had managed to survive. Even further away from the houses than the latrine was the graveyard; a collection of mounded earth with markers made of what ever material they could spare—pieces of siding, plastic sheets—anything that would not burn.

A couple of the men were armed, but they stood listlessly by while the main man tried to argue with Jesse to take them with him. The man’s heart was not in the argument, and all of his pleas were easily deflected by Jesse while Mitch calmly loaded the Toyota and kept an eye on the crowd, his AR slung from the tactical harness and ready to be put into use if the situation called for it. Mitch had been very quiet on their arrival to the small compound, which they had found by accident hunting for a fuel source for the TLC. Jesse leaned on the slung-stock of his own rifle and waved a hand once more at their compound.

“You got protection, you’ve got the means to plant and herd—there’s no place I can take you that is any better.” And I’m not taking the lot of you back to the Lodge, or giving out directions, he thought to himself.

The gathered bunch wearily shook their heads. Someone began to sob. They were a very disparate group of people, some of them still dressed in the threadbare clothing of their former occupations, as if they thought putting on a suit coat and tie somehow was going to deflect the evil in the world away from them. Others had given up for the most part, dressing in stinking clothing day after day and letting the grime and body oils mat their hair into tangled lumps which sat one their heads like mud dabbers nests. All of them were flea ridden, many had scabbies and open sores from the lack of hygiene. The man claiming to be in charge had told Jesse the night before that they had been reduced to water rationing, with nothing left over for cleanliness and dysentery and sickness had wiped out nearly half of those who had escaped the walking dead. Added to that, a mere 1000 calories a day at one point and only with the coming of spring and the desperation to not starve to death had made them start to gather the dandelions and other edible plants in the area. Jesse and Mitch had shown up at the gate with a half dozen zombies following and a butchered cow. The cow they had shot not far down the road and the fresh meat had been used to gain entrance into the small compound.

The zombies Mitch and Jesse put down with as many shots from their silenced rifles. Using more ammo than the people had seen in a month to do so. The survivors devoured the cow, eating the flesh of the animal with loud grunts and laughter while Jesse and Mitch sat back in the shadows and watched, amazed that the group had survived at all.

The headman, wearing a tattered suit coat put a filthy hand on Jesse’s arm. “We’re tired—can’t you do something for us?”

Jesse growled a small curse. “I’ve already done what I can; find a radio, one that will transmit further than your valley here, lock onto the frequency I gave—The Lodge will be monitorin’ that channel as will the Highlanders—and start learnin’ to live.” He pulled his arm out from under the man’s grasp. “I can’t help you do that, it’s somethin’ you gotta do yourself.”

“We need the tools--,” protested another.

“You have the tools,” exclaimed Jesse. “Look around you! Start by findin’ seed and gardenin’ equipment, break ground now, and get those in the ground. There are books and books on how to do this stuff. You told me that there is a small library nearby, get there, you’ll be amazed at the things you find.”

“Jesse—“ said Mitch. Jesse looked over at the man and nodded.

“We’re leavin’,” said Jesse. “I hope you make it.”

He stepped away from the crowd and before they could protest further, Mitch was putting the Toyota into drive and creeping away from them while Jesse opened the door and slid into the torn seat. They made it to the makeshift gate ahead of any protest. The kid at the gate thankfully was unaware of the mood of his people and after a cautious look outside the fence to be sure no undead wandered, slide the portal aside. Mitch gunned the motor, sending the TLC leaping through the opening as the first of several dirt clods and rocks hit the rear of the vehicle. Jesse gritted his teeth as they sped off and the shouts of the living died away.

As they bounced down the winter heaved road away from the small compound and the gaunt inhabitants, Mitch looked over at Jesse, who was still stewing, pulling at his mustache while he attempted to forget the survivors they had left behind.

“You need to stop worrying about them.”

“Stop? They’re humans, man, not many of us left.”

“The old Jesse, would have said ‘Fuck ‘em, if they can’t clean up their own shit, they don’t deserve to live’,” growled Mitch in a fairly good imitation of Jesse’s voice. They had been on the road for two weeks now, and so Mitch had gotten a lot of practice.

Jesse gave the man a small smile. “That was before we found more people livin’ in squalor like those than people actually makin’ it like The Lodge.”

“We’ve got it good at the Lodge,” agreed Mitch. “So remind me why we’re out here again? Oh, yeah, pussy.”

Jesse had to join in with the other man’s laughter—simply because no matter how Jesse tried to disguise it, it was true. He was looking for Rebecca and the Band. To deflect the crass comment by Mitch, he turned the tables. “You volunteered to come out here. What does that say about you? At least I have a tangible reason—chasing skirts is an American Male past time.”

“You’re saying because I’m gay, I don’t fit the American Male stereo type?”

It was a conversation that they knew by rote; they’d had many hours to discuss many things while riding along the highways and byways of the new world. They were bound to repeat a conversation at some point. Pretending to think about the question, Jesse let the silence stretch until Mitch almost spoke again, and then answered. “Well, you’re an American, your male, but we pretty much can’t call you a stereotype, now can we?” asked Jesse. “You’re not exactly the gay-mans dream-- don’t like cookin’, you don’t like clothes, you can’t match a color to save your life and you drove a truck for a livin’. You’re fat--.”

“--Used to be fat,” corrected Mitch. “The strict winter diet at The Lodge took care of any extra weight that any of us had. I have a good sense of color coordination, you just can’t tell any more because we’re lucky to have any clothing at all.” He fingered his Carhart jacket and the flannel underneath. The jacket was holding up fairly well, but the flannel shirt had seen better days. It was nearly faded to a single tone- too many washings on the boil setting had taken the bright colors to a shadow of their former glory.

“Okay, so you used to be fat.” Jesse took a moment to unsling his CAR and set it in the four-gun rack they had bolted to the dash of the TLC. Mitch’s rifle was already there as was a FN/FAL for those long rapid shots and a tactical modeled semitauto shotgun. Also bolted to the dash was a 50 caliber ammo can stuffed with extra magazines for the FN and loose ammo for the shotgun. They had taken a week to ready the Toyota for the road trip and Jesse was still wishing they had done more. He had contemplated taking one of the armored Hummers, but the thing got the worst gas mileage and on an extended trip with uncertain refueling stops, the Toyota with its 20MPG rating was a better choice. Besides, Jesse and Hannah and Chelsea had rescued the thing from a garage in the first days of the Plague and it had sentimental value attached to it.

“How are we doin’ on gas?” asked Jesse, dropping the path they had been taking.

“Under half on the gauge. We’ve got one full five gallon left.”

“What kind of mileage you think we’re gettin’?” asked Jesse.

“That last batch of gas was really far gone. We might be getting 15 or so, if we’re lucky,” replied Mitch as he maneuvered around a wreck in the roadway. “We need to find another case or three of octane boost.”

“To do that, we gotta get to a larger town,” muttered Jesse. He pulled out a road atlas. “What was the last sign we passed that told us somethin’ useful?”

“Waynesfield,” said Mitch. “On 67. We’re outside of Lima.”

“Who’d’ve thought it would take us nearly two weeks to drive across Ohio?” asked Jesse to no one.

“When you go from lake to river six times, it’s takes a bit,” answered Mitch.

“I suppose so,” replied Jesse, looking at the map as his mind wander to a month previous, just as the winter weather was breaking up and the roads were clearing--.



Jesse stood in the cold hallway of The Lodge and stared out at the courtyard which was finally exposed to the world. Not two days ago it had been under a couple feet of snow, now the weather had finally taken a turn for the better, so to speak, and after a bitter cold winter and two blizzards the rains of spring had finally arrived to wash away the ice and snow. The blowers at either end of the hallway were attempting to keep the glassed in area warm so that the starter plants and seedlings they had going could get a jump on the growing season. Hank was in a “Happy World” as he put it. He was in charge of all the growing for the lodge, along with some help, since he had the most experience growing plants under adverse conditions. Who would have thought that a man who spent most of his adult—and teen, to hear Hank tell it—life growing guerilla marijuana gardens would suddenly be responsible for the food crops of an entire community? thought Jesse. He gave a short laugh at that and wondered what people would think if they knew he himself had spent 13 of the longest months of his life behind prison walls for trafficking marijuana.

All to buy a motorcycle.

There were still parts of this life that only one or two people left alive knew about. Desert Storm, everyone knew about his time in the desert; he had used that experience to his advantage when trying to get people to accept him and a leader of the community. He was still one of the least liked of the council, but Jesse didn’t really care about that as long as people survived. The community itself had grown again, with new people having stumbled across their tracks in the snow and taking in two small holdings of survivors the population of the Lodge numbered at two hundred and ten people. More than they wanted to have, but they had just not been able to turn survivors away.

With the increase in population, the Lodge had gone through some growing pains, housing of families in rooms—no more than four to a room—bunking singles together and couples having to share space with other couples, the smells that went with the near overpopulation in the enclosed space, even a building as large as The Lodge couldn’t mask the odors with size. Only with the constant badgering of Doc Nolan and his team of nurses had they managed to make it through the winter with nothing more serious than a bout of the common cold which had been swapped back and forth until Nolan had made sure that huge doses of vitamin C had been forced on everyone at every meal. The action had depleted their meager supply of herbals and vitamins on hand, but the cold had been defeated. Now that the weather had broken, they were looking at moving people out into the outlaying cabins and homes. Just over the hill was Camp New Hope with its dining hall, summer cabins that could be winterized if needed and other facilities ripe for their use. It meant adding another patch of road to patrol, more fencing to put up for security and more wall to build around the inner-most buildings for defense, but if they continued to grow they would need the space.

The farm right outside the entrance to the Lodge was being occupied by two families now. Both families had owned rather large farms and volunteered to start breaking ground for corn, soybeans and other edible crops. In addition to the two farm families, there were three shifts of guards to patrol the roadways and farm hands. So a total of about twenty people were crammed into a house meant for a large single family. There were so many things happening now and Jesse was feeling a restlessness coming over him with the break in the weather.

Jesse lay his hand on a large crack in one of the windows, which had been repaired with a strip of plastic window covering to keep it from breaking more. No one knew how it had been cracked, an accident Jesse was sure, but it had not been reported when it had happened, so the crack had hours to lengthen. It had been caught by the daily maintenance rounds, but not before the window had lost its vacuum sealing which rendered the double paned window no better at stopping the cold than an old farm house window with a storm covering. Thankfully, they had not yet run into maintenance problems with plumbing and heating, but it was only a matter of time. The generators required fuel, the water treatment plant needed chemicals and the Lodge itself had only so many spare parts on hand in the maintenance sheds. Things were broken and once the replacement part was used, alternative repairs were necessary.

He stepped away from the window glad that the warm sun was finally making an appearance; it would go a long ways toward lightening the dark mood which had descended over the residence of the Lodge in recent weeks. It had seemed as if the weather was going to be overcast and below freezing forever. He could see sliding doors to the rooms were opening as people took advantage of the weather to air out stuffy rooms and let the freshening air into the building. The only place the heaters still ran was here in the long hallway, both up and down stairs, where the plants were struggling to take root. He took a deep breath and inhaled the scent of the plants, which was heavily tinged with the smell of the gifts left by Heart of the Moon and those brought by Hank himself—the marijuana sprouts. It was sometimes surprising that the little seedlings could already be giving off their distinctive perfume, when they were mature plants, the scent of them would be nearly over powering if kept inside. Jesse knew that Hank was planning on a transplant of almost all the plants but a very few “special” ones. The others were being cultivated for medicinal reasons and trade.

Nodding to several people who had entered the hall—it was still the only way form the main rooms of the Lodge to the former hotel rooms—Jesse began to make his way to the front desk to look over the patrol logs and watch logs from the night before. Breakfast was still being served and he decided to take the logs to the table with him and kill two birds with one stone.

Going through the common area, there were people lounging in the battered leather couches and chairs, reading, talking, playing games. These were the ones who were just coming off duty or killing a few moments before they had to report for work. With the winter storms, there were a lot of clean up crews going out to clear fallen trees, repair damage to various fences around the property and help build the new defensive wall which was being erected because of a freak horde of undead that had found their way to the isolated community. They had been very lucky in that respect; from other survivors now at the Lodge they had heard of massive hordes of undead which wandered through the landscape, thousands of bodies large, which overran many of the makeshift defenses of other survivors. There were tales now of fast moving undead, sprinters, and rumors that the undead were turning on each other for what flesh remained on the bones.

There were other rumors as well, ones that if true, meant that the dead were no longer mindless automations; but organized and thinking. Jesse found this hard to believe.

They called these Half-Lifes. Something stuck between the living and the dead.

He grabbed up the logs and nodded to the desk worker on duty. The desk job on the surface seemed to be an easy one, but in truth it involved much more than met the eye. It meant taking complaints, making sure that maintenance was notified when something was not working, passing out the rations of soap and towel and toilet paper when requested, keeping the books so that a room did not get more than its allotted share for the month, that the guards on duty were making rounds, that the radio was manned so that those on duty could communicate with the Lodge, that the two other communities they were now in contact with were called every four hours that the CB radio was scanning—multiple other things that no one ever seemed to think about. The daily running of the facility was one which took vast amounts of man power and time out of each person’s day. The running of the lodge did not include the salvage teams going out each day to systematically search houses, load essential items for transportation back to the Lodge, guarding the roadways into the area, patrolling the stretches of road and taking care of the problems which arose from those tasks.

Grabbing a tray, Jesse tucked the logs under his arm and went down the serving line, taking eggs, toast, beef (a cow had stepped in a hole and broken a leg), mush/polenta, and finally a weak cup of coffee. When the cup was handed to him the lady serving it smiled sadly.

“The last of it, Jesse, after this morning, we’ll be drinking water and tea, and when the tea is gone, we’re down to water and milk, as long as the cows hold out.”

“It seems a little light on the eggs in the serving line today,” mentioned Jesse, as he took the cup and inhaled the aroma of roasted beans for the last time.

“The chickens are molting, we might not have eggs again for a couple weeks.”

He shook his head. “We’ve come a long way from McDonalds on demand, haven’t we?”

She laughed at that. “We have, but I’m healthier for it.” She turned sideways. “I’ve lost forty pounds in the last seven months, I don’t have to watch my sugar anymore, good thing since there’s no more meds for me to take anyway, and I feel better than I have in years. When summer comes, I’ll be in a bikini with nowhere to wear it!”

“We might have the pool open by then,” grinned Jesse.

“Not for swimming we won’t,” she replied.

Jesse moved on and found an out of the way table overlooking the lake. He pursued the logs as he ate and wondered as he sat alone how the band Heart of the Moon was doing. He missed Rebecca, and sometimes wish he had taken her up on her offer to travel with the band. At the time, he had thought he needed to stay with the Lodge and help keep it running, now, with all the people there, he was starting to feel less needed and the urge to hit the road was strong.

Glancing up when a shadow fell over him, Jesse saw Mitch standing with a tray by his table.

“You want company?” asked Mitch.

Jesse indicated the chair across from him and Mitch sat.

“At least we’re eating,” muttered Mitch as he took stock of what was on the plate. “It’s a far cry from the days when it was just thirty of us and we had leftovers.”

“Not like you didn’t have the weight to lose.”

Mitch grinned. “I am a shadow of my former self.”

This was more conversation out of Mitch than Jesse had with him in a while. “What’s up?”

“When are you leaving?” asked Mitch.

“What?”

“I’ve been watching you look through road maps in the last two weeks. When are you going? You miss that hippy chick and you want to find her.”

“Okay Doctor Ruth, I haven’t made any decision about anything yet, nor have I spoken to anyone about it. I was going to wait until after Hannah had her baby besides.”

“Doctor Ruth? You are dating yourself.”

“Whatever. Why do you want to go?”

“I have my reasons.”

“Care to share them?”

“Nope,” said Mitch. “Not right now, anyway.”

“Well, when I make my mind up about it. I’ll let you know,” assured Jesse.

“Hey you do that,” said Mitch. He glanced at his nearly empty plate. “You think they’ll let me have seconds?”

“Probably not,” said Jesse, gathering up his empty plate and the log books. “See you around.”

Mitch bent his head back to the plate.
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Re: Jesse

Post by Kathy in FL » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:58 pm

Waaaaahooooooooooooo!!!!!

:lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm just all giddy and stuff. :wink:

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Re: Jesse

Post by Shoe Daddy » Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:26 pm

Holy. Shit.
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Re: Jesse

Post by Morphace » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:32 pm

Awesome.... As always. I was starting to get depressed not reading about the lodge people anymore. :lol: Thank you Doc.
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Re: Jesse

Post by Snapshot7.62 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:57 pm

WOOOHOOO!!! Doc's writing again! Can't wait for more!
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Re: Jesse

Post by Ronin71XS » Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:39 pm

I'm reminded of that HOTELS.COM commercial.


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Re: Jesse

Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:13 pm

w00t!

*places tracking device on thread*

Crap, now between your new stuff, MJOTZY, Phoenix and Shoe's story and my copy of Bryce's Oasis (so far excellent by the by) I am never going to get anything done. :lol:

edited to add: OTTB just updated "The Cause"! That's it, no chores for me today! Oh well.

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Re: Jesse

Post by Mr. E. Monkey » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:59 pm

Yay!
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Re: Jesse

Post by LadyBersa » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:25 am

I will second the YAYs!!
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Re: Jesse

Post by tenhigh » Mon Mar 09, 2009 2:56 am

Oh joy oh joy oh joy!!!!! :D :D

Doc's writing again! I'm almost bursting with happiness!!

moar?
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Re: Jesse

Post by doc66 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:25 pm

“So where are we?” asked Mitch.

Jesse shook his reverie away and gave the other man a blank look.

“Jesus,” muttered Mitch. “You’ve been staring at the map for five minutes, which way do we turn?”

Looking out the windows, Jesse took stock of their surroundings. They were sitting at a crossroads, open fields lay on both sides of them a couple houses and a farm house were not very far away from the road and in the yards wandered the undead, staggering through the overgrowth and trying to get to the Toyota, possibly drawn to them by the rumble of the engine, or the smell of the exhaust or maybe they could even sense the warm blood that pumped through the two men’s veins. Beyond the fields, wooded areas were shadowy and uninviting. It was hard to believe that just a couple hundred years ago the entire area was nothing but deep, old growth forest. The farmers had chopped and burned it into a glacial flat land, or at least exposed the land that two millions years ago had been covered by a massive glacier. With that kind of time exposed, the lives of men were just specks on the geologic table. He wondered if the human race were in its last day, or merely in an evolutionary cycle, a period of regrowth and enlightenment. Judging from the last two groups of survivors, humanity was on the decline.

Jesse picked the two largest cities nearby and tossed the names out for Mitch to decide the direction.

“Depends, do you wanna risk Lima, or go on to Celina?”

“Both of them are big fucking cities, do you think that anyone made it through the winter in them?”

“I think it’s more a question of how many zombies made it through the winter in ‘em,” responded Jesse.

Mitch stared out at the fields himself and sighed. “There used to be this little Italian restaurant on the lake in Celina--.”

“Celina it is. Turn left then. I’ve never been to Celina.”

“Neat town, city, whatever,” began Mitch as he put the TLC in gear and turned in the direction indicated. The undead, which had been in the homes yards, had finally broken through the undergrowth and made it to the roadway. They staggered after the vehicle emitting small squeaks and growls as the quarry escaped. Neither of the men noticed the beasts as they drive away. Jesse leaned back as Mitch began to tell him about the lake.

“It’s not a real lake, not like Mother Nature made it,” said Mitch, settling in to ramble on. “The Grand Lake, as it is called, is really a man made lake. As a matter of fact it is the largest man made lake without the use of machinery in the world—all right here in Ohio.”

“How’d they build it?” asked Jesse, knowing that Mitch would want input on his end.

“By hand, or course,” said Mitch, as if the obvious answer should have been Jesse’s own conclusion. “They dug it out, and the thing is only about seven feet at its deepest. They were paid a quarter a day or something and a shot of whiskey—they thought the whiskey would prevent malaria back then—it probably kept the workers happy too. The lake was a feeder for the Ohio-Erie canal system and helped keep the water levels in the canal up for commerce.”

“How do you know this shit again?”

“I had a lot of time while driving a truck to listen to books on tape and read while I was sitting in rest areas and truck stops.”

“I thought you made extra money in trucks stops giving hand jobs.”

“Haha, fucker. I might be gay but I was never desperate.”

Jesse laughed at his own joke and Mitch took timeout to concentrate on the road ahead. There were several abandoned vehicles littering the roadway, much of it farm machinery. It was if there were an exodus away from where Jesse and Mitch were heading and they had left abandoned vehicles as the things ran out of gas or worse.

“This doesn’t look good,” muttered Jesse. If they were using farm equipment to escape, that meant to Jesse that the people on them were down to the last of their hope. Farm machinery doesn’t move very fast and they could have only stayed a mere few hours ahead of what they were running from, if it were the undead they were trying to escape from. If it were other survivors, they had no chance at all.

“It can be good for us,” said Mitch. “Look at it this way; if they all left town, that means there’s nothing in Celina for us to worry about.”

Accepting his hopeful version of the events, Jesse chose not to add that what they might have been running from could still be in town, waiting for unsuspecting travelers to arrive. He instead kept an eye out for wandering undead; sprinters, runners, staggerers, shamblers—whatever the en vogue term might be among the area’s living. If there were any. As he kept watch, Jesse’s mind fell back into his musings about leaving the Lodge.





Hannah’s baby was due. They were all clustered around the makeshift medical area, waiting for Nolan and his midwives to do something. At the moment, they were doing nothing.

“Can’t you do something for her?” asked Cole as he held Hannah’s hand and looked worried while she breathed and gritted her teeth. Cole was just up and about himself, having suffered a couple bullet holes just before Christmas. The wounds, while not life threatening, were taking their own time healing and Cole was pale, gaunt-looking and left to easy tasks around the Lodge, which made him even more irritable than the gloomy weather had been making everyone.

Nolan came over and wiped Hannah’s forehead with a cool hand and smiled. “Nope. She’s not even six centimeters yet, we’ll be here for a while. Just keep breathing and giving her small sips of water, we don’t want her to get dehydrated, that just makes it tougher on her when the baby comes.”

Jesse, cleared his throat and got Hannah and Cole’s attention. When they looked over at him he smiled at them. “I’m gonna set out for air, there’s enough people in here with you at the moment.”

Smiling through her discomfort, Hannah nodded. “Okay, Jesse, but you will be here when the baby comes, you’re my defacto dad, Uncle Jesse. SHIT.” She took a deep breath and looked at Cole who was glancing at the watch on his wrist, timing the contractions. “Got it? That one hurt like a son-of-a-bitch.”

Cole nodded that he had the beginning time. Jesse made his escape. He was glad to get away for a moment. Hannah’s friend, Stacy followed him and fired up a Hank Special, a joint made by mixing the last of his favorite strain of weed and pipe tobacco. It made for a harsh smoke, but for those people willing to do anything to keep their nicotine habit going, it was a welcome relief. She offered it to Jesse who, while he was not a tobacco smoker, was thankful for the semi-high that the joint provided. Hank had a fine business going of trading his rolls for luxury items.

The Lodge did not frown on trading or, as some of the detractors like to put it, hording. Everyone was able to go out on a salvage operation and the agreed upon rule was simple, you got ten percent of what you found, no questions asked. It meant that even though the kitchen might be out of coffee, somewhere in the Lodge, someone was holding a can of coffee for that moment when someone was willing trade goods or services for it. Guns and ammo were the same way, as was clothing and nearly anything else you might want. All over the Lodge were small solar panels attached to the balconies outside of rooms to power the small electrical items—iPods, laptops and sundry other things which required more than the intermittent generator boosts that were run a few hours a day off the Lodges source. The solar panels had been found in a tractor trailer and the finder had given the required portion over to The Lodge and still had enough to trade off for things and services he wanted—Jesse doubted that the man had worked a full shift on guard duty since.

There was also the alcohol still—a few of the maintenance personal cobbled together a still and had begged, borrowed and some say, stolen enough corn to start a sour mash operation. They had just bottled the first of the firewater which Jesse remembered as being very passable for their first attempt, even thought they had only aged it about three months. The Lodge was operating like a small, well put together community, founded on the principles of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and governed by an elected council. If any place might make it, they would.

He handed the joint back to Stacy, who took another hit and then put it out. Although smoking was frowned upon inside the walls of the Lodge, sometimes a little here and there was partaken of.

“So are you heading out after the baby comes?” asked Stacy.

Grunting, Jesse motioned for her to walk with him. They ducked out the side door which lead to the courtyard where the pool was being cleaned up from the winter storms. People nodded to them as they recognized them, the two of them being part of the original members of the Lodge community. “Where’d you hear that?”

“Nearly everyone in the place has seen you looking at maps and writing down lists—it’s kinda obvious what you’re thinking.”

“It’s getting’ crowded in here,” muttered Jesse.

“What about Chelsea?” asked Stacy. “You’re the closest thing she’s got to a dad, what are you going to tell her?”

“I don’t know,” admitted Jesse.

“Better think of something, she’s going to be crushed if you don’t take her.”

“She’s too young to go runnin’ around the country followin’ an old man around.”

“First off, you’re not old; secondly, she’s better equipped than half the people around here to follow you around the country, mentally and physically.” Stacy guided them to the walking paths which lead them to the over look on the lake. The over look was now a guard station with a big .50 caliber machinegun emplacement and other nasty weapons, but it was still a good place to talk. The trees had been cut back to provide a wider view than what the original scenic overlook had provided. In addition to the trees being trimmed, there were sandbags and rocks piled around the gazebo to add to the stone wall battlements.

“She needs a chance to be normal,” tried Jesse, sitting on the wall and nodding to the two guards in the structure.

“She’s as normal as she can get in these days.”

“You know what I mean,” snapped Jesse. “She’s eleven, she needs a chance.”

Stacy sighed out a breath of fresh air. “I know what you mean.”

“Besides, I already got someone to watch my back,” said Jesse.

“Oh?”

“Mitch,”

“Mitch, when did this come about?”

Rather than telling her that he had just decided it, Jesse, elaborated on the truth. “Breakfast a few days ago, we talked about it.”

Stacy crossed her arms against the cold spring wind and stared out over the lake at the far shore. “I suppose he’s better than taking Hank.”

“Hanks got his dream job,” said Jesse with a barking laugh. “Besides, Mitch won’t be missed by anyone--.”

“Other than those of us who were here in the beginning.”

Uncomfortable, Jesse shrugged, standing and moving over to the younger woman to put an arm around Stacy while the guard pointedly ignored them and scanned the lake with his expensive binoculars. Jesse gave her a quick hug. “I’ll be back—I just need to get out for a while and see what’s goin’ on out there. You never know—there might be a government that will make all this needless.”

“You really think so?” asked Stacy.

“I hope not,” answered Jesse truthfully. “The Feds have a way of messin’ up good things.”

“Well, be sure and write,” Stacy told him. “I want a post card a day from you until you get back.”

They both laughed aloud, making the guards glance at them and shake their heads at the noise of their merriment which echoes across the water and bounced back at them, cutting through the silence of the day.
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Re: Jesse

Post by Makarov » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:55 pm

Y E S ! :D
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Re: Jesse

Post by Kathy in FL » Mon Mar 09, 2009 1:08 pm

Just leave us begging. :lol: :lol:

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Re: Jesse

Post by SimonZayne » Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:28 pm

Way to go Doc.
Jeriah wrote:Arrows used for shooting zombies are like condoms used for banging prostitutes in sub-Saharan Africa: single use only, for everybody's safety. Don't retrieve and re-use that shit, it's just nasty.
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Re: Jesse

Post by ZMace » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:19 pm

tagged
zXzGrifterzXz wrote: "An Armed Society is a polite society, unless they are talking on the Internet......then they are total bastards to each other."

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Re: Jesse

Post by delagirh » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:29 pm

Righteous.

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Re: Jesse

Post by doc66 » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:50 pm

“You took a wrong turn,” accused Jesse.

“Oh, yeah, lay this on me, because you were so God damn good at helping with directions,” returned Mitch. He took the map and tried to find the road they were on among the folds. “You’ve been sitting over there day dreaming the time away while I suffer through all this crap on the road.”

Jesse looked out over the road where they were headed and back the way they had come. He saw nothing at all. “You sure we’re not in Indiana?”

“Hell, I have no clue where we are, that’s why I’m bitching.”

“I thought it was the fag comin’ out,” Jesse commented dryly as he took the map back and attempted to put it back where it needed to be.

“The fag?”

“It was all I had,” admitted Jesse.

“Jesus. If I didn’t know you so well, I’d be pissed off at you for that.”

Grinning, Jesse put the map up on the dash so that Mitch could look at it as well. “Okay, we were here before I zoned out. Which way did you turn to get around the wrecks?”

“South,” muttered Mitch as he tried to trace his route with a finger.

“Did we cross 33?” asked Jesse, hating to admit that he had not been paying attention at all. Mitch sighed and nodded. Jesse bent his head to the map again. “So, we should be about here?”

“Outside of Sidney? That’s hell and gone away from where I thought we were, I thought we were up here,” said Mitch.

“I think that the wrecks put us further to the south.” Jesse sat back and stared around him at the fields and trees and flatness of it all. “The problem is, there’s no landmarks around here to judge it by, it all looks the same.”

“Hey, at least we’re not getting attacked by masses of undead zombies and shot at by hillbillies who want the truck,” mentioned Mitch. Those things had happened to them several times on the trip, the hillbillies in the southern part of the state and the masses of undead outside of both Columbus and Cleveland. They had totally skirted Cincinnati after the experience with those frights. To deal with he hillbillies they simply drove out of rifle range; the zombies tended to follow you for hours since their attention span was longer than the hillbillies. “So what shall we do?”

“I say we continue on or breakneck speed of forty or so miles an hour until we get to a road sign or a fork in the road. Once either of those come up, we can make a better determination of where we are.” They traveled so slowly because the condition of the roads were less than stellar. The winter cold had broken up the pavement to the point that in some areas they were riding on chunks of asphalt and gravel. Jesse wondered just how long it had been since many of the roads in this part of the state had seen some kind of care.

“Since we’re stopped, I’m going to pee,” announced Mitch. “I think it’s about lunch time too. You want to dig out a lunch?”

Jesse agreed that he might be able to manage that and opened his door and swung out of the Toyota. He left the door open and grabbed up his rifle, slinging it before going to the cargo area for an MRE packet. They had stopped at the Airfield in Mansfield before making the trip out of town and stocked up on all the ammo and food that they could find which had been left behind by the Highlanders and the Lodge survivors during one of the salvage trips. Eight cases of MRE’s and five thousand rounds of 5.56, two thousand rounds of 7.62, another three thousand rounds of 9mm made a pretty hefty load for the TLC. In addition to those, they had various other calibers in boxes and their personal belongings along with a spare rifle for each man, a spare pistol or two and other backup weapons. And magazines, a shitton of magazines for all of them, because mags were a consumable, and you never knew when you’d have to drop one on the ground and leave it. Jesse, in addition to toting his rifle, a Sig P226, and a Glock 19, had a sawed off NEF shotgun riding in a rig strapped to his lower leg. He had been carrying the weapon since he had met Hannah and having it around just made him feel better, In truth the weapon was about as worthless as a handful of rocks if fired at anything over 12 feet, but in close, it was just devastating.

Opening the cargo area. Jesse pawed through the items laying there. Since they had been on the road, their lives had taken on a bit of a nomadic slobishness. They tore open the MRE cases and dumped the contents in the back, pawing through the packages until they found something that sounded good. Sleeping bags and clothing were tossed in as well until they could get to someplace to clean the articles they wore, trash when not burned, ended up sifting through the junk to the floor boards to create layers of paper, plastic and spend shell casings. The TLC had also taken on that funky smell that came from having two guys trapped in a small space and all the smells that went with dirty clothing, empty food containers, farts, slacking on bathing and dirty boots.

Jesse left the cargo gate open for a moment to let the spring air waft through the interior. He activated the MRE heater with a splash of water from one of the jugs—they were going to have to refill those soon, since they were down to one partially full jug—and set the heater and packet aside to wait for Mitch. Opening a cracker, Jesse spread jalapeño cheese on the thing and chewed, scanning the area for threats while he did so. It reminded him of being in the Army, all the constant looking and trying to stay alert. He spied Mitch coming out of the woods, adjusting his gear and making a beeline for the Toyota. When he arrived, he gave a theatrical sigh .

“That was more than just a pee,” announced Mitch.

“Rub one off while you were there?” asked Jesse, not because he wanted to know, but because the conversation was expected.

“Naw, didn’t have time, I was concentrating on other things.” Mitch took a swig of water from his water bottle. Jesse nodded to the MRE packets.

“You pick first.”

Mitch nodded and held up one of the heaters. “You could have put the words facing out so I could see what I was getting.”

“More fun this way,” said Jesse around a cracker. He took the time to pour the lime drink mix into his canteen.

“Chili and beans. This will be great in about two hours.” Mitch tore open the packet and freed his spoon from a pocket on his gear vest.

“Fuck,” said Jesse. “I didn’t think about that.”

“Hope you got ammo,” laughed Mitch.

Jesse grabbed the other packet and sighed at the contents. “Chicken and dumplings. I even picked them out. What the hell was I thinking?”

“You weren’t, my friend, not at all.”

Heaving out another sigh, Jesse opened the packet and dug into it after dousing the contents with the small bottle of Tabasco that was provided in the meals. The two men ate the meal quickly, tossing the empty packages into the Toyotas cargo area to be burned at a later date. When they first started the journey, it had been agreed that they would not leave trash laying around so if they were being stalked, followed or observed, whoever might be doing so would have as little information on them as possible. Mitch tossed the keys to Jesse and after closing up the vehicles cargo area, they topped off the gas tank from their remaining can, vowing to stop at the next place that looked promising.

“We should have been checking some of the vehicles on the side of the road for gas,” mentioned Mitch as they headed out.

“They were there for a reason,” suggested Jesse. Mitch didn’t answer other than to pass his own gas. Jesse cranked hard on the window lever and swore. If there hadn’t been grating over the space to protect them, Jesse would have stuck his head out of the window. “That quick?”

“I think that was left over from breakfast,” admitted Mitch. “These MRE’s are tearing me up; we need to find some real food soon.”

All Jesse could do was agree. As the miles slowly slipped by, Jesse found himself thinking back on the Lodge.



It was a boy. A redheaded boy with a fine set of lungs. He had ten fingers and toes, and other than a birth mark in a place that only his mother and lovers would ever see, was unmarked by the trauma of the world. When the announcement came to the rest of the people, there was barely a dry eye in the building—the concern over if the baby would be untainted was an unspoken thought throughout the community—now the concerns were going to be of more mundane worries; would the child be okay and healthy, rather than would my baby be undead. Other couples began to have a small hope that all would be normal with the world.

Jesse held the little bundle while Hannah looked on, smiling and exhausted, having just gone through a 26 hour labor, by no means a record, but long enough with no relief from the pain through medication. Cole had wandered off to find a bed, having stayed up with Hannah through the ordeal.

“He’s got his fathers hair,” murmured Jesse.

Hannah, nodded. “Do you think it’s wrong not to name him after his father?”

Shaking his head, Jesse played with a small hand, running his big finger under the smaller fingers of the baby, feeling the tiny muscles unclench and clench as Jesse wiggled his own finger back and forth.

“No, I think it’s good that you do what you think best. If someday he has a question, you tell him the truth,” said Jesse. “Until then, naming him after your father was a good idea. How’s Cole with all this?”

“Happy. Sad that its not his; grateful that I’m okay.” Hannah shifted on the bed and took a sip of water. “But, Jesse, I’ll tell you what I told him; this is my child. I don’t need your approval or want it, really, I have you in my life because I want you there.”

“I ain’t trying to be your father, Hannah, I’m asking because you’re both my friends.” The baby fussed a little and settled down when Jesse’s tone dropped off. He sighed out a breath in deference to the child. “I’m askin’ ‘cause I care about you.”

“And you want to be sure I’m okay when you leave?”

“I haven’t decided if I am going yet,” protested Jesse.

Giving him a knowing smile, Hannah reached out and held the hand that was holding her baby. “We’ve been together since all this started, and while we haven’t agreed on everything all the time—and I haven’t always liked you—you’re the closest thing I have to family now. You and Chelsea are what I have to call a family, and don’t think that I don’t know you, mister; you’ve been planning on leaving since she left the Lodge, Jesse. You should have gone with her, but I’m glad you stayed for my baby.”

Embarrassed, Jesse took a second to play with the baby before answering. “I think I’m going to head out here in a few days. I’m resigning from the council and Mitch and I are heading out.”

“Mitch?”

“Why does everyone say that?” asked Jesse.

Laughing, Hannah smiled impishly at him while her baby moved at the sound of her voice. “Because, Jesse, Mitch is gay.”

“No he’s not, he’s a truck driver,” protested Jesse.

“He might be a truck driver, but he’s as gay as a rainbow in San Francisco. How could you not know that?”

“Why would I?” demanded Jesse. The baby began to squirm again and so Jesse handed him off to Hannah. She spoke soft nonsense to the child until he settled down again. While Jesse impatiently waited for her answer, he looked out the window where the skies were clouding up and threatening to rain. He turned back to Hannah and admired the new mother and child. She was just as beautiful as she could be, Jesse decided, and Jesse felt his heart swell with pride, just as if she had been his own kin.

Still smiling, Hannah turned her attention back to Jesse and caught him staring. “What are you looking at?”

“You, you’re gorgeous.”

“I’m tired, worn out and starved,” denied Hannah. “I haven’t showered in two days and I feel like I’ve run a marathon carrying a bowling ball.”

“Don’t matter.”

They sat in silence for a long moment. The baby was asleep. Jesse wished that he could take a picture of the two of them. There were digital cameras around the Lodge, but for some reason, Jesse wanted an old fashioned paper photo. Something to put in his wallet, a memento of the mother and child. Hannah sighed and leaned her head back on the pillow.

“Well, if you go, when you go, I want you to keep a journal of what happens out there. I want to be able to read about it since I can’t go too.”

Grunting into his chest, Jesse shook his head. “What is it with you women wantin’ me to write all the time? Stacy said that she wanted me to send a post card a day.”

“We have to chronicle out lives now, Jesse, we’re the keepers of history. What you see out there, what you do, its all a part of the New World.” Hannah kissed the baby. “Who else do you want telling your story? When this one gets big, he’ll want to know everything you did out there to make it a better place for him.” She suddenly grinned as if she knew a secret that he was not a part of. “You don’t think I want him to listen to your tall tales do you? I want him to know the truth.”

“That’s all bullshit, Hannah,” groused Jesse. “I’d only tell the tall tales at bedtime.”

Hannah rolled her eyes at him as if to tell him she knew better. Suddenly changing the subject, Hannah poised the question that he had been avoiding with her. “What are you going to tell Chelsea?”

“She can’t go,” said Jesse.

“I know that, you know that,” Hannah affirmed, “but what about Chelsea? She might know it, but does she understand why?”

Uncomfortable, Jesse shrugged. “I guess.”

“Have you spoken with her?”

“Not really,” admitted Jesse.

“You need to.” Hannah shifted the small bundle in her arms. “You need to take her out somewhere, go out on the lake in a boat and talk to her alone. She looks up to you and she’s going to be devastated that she can’t go with you.”

Hanging his head, Jesse let out another of many sighs he had been puffing out over the last several days. He sometimes thought that it would have been better if he had just slipped away in the night and left a note.

“Yeah, I’ll do something like that.”

“Promise me,” ordered Hannah. “I don’t want her running to me and crying and angry because you slipped away without talking to her. She loves you, and you need to be the man she believes you are.”

Stung, Jesse looked up sharply at Hannah. “You sayin’ I’m not?”

“No, I’m saying it would be easier for you to ignore the conversation and slip away. I’m telling you don’t do that to her. You are family. You can’t do that to her.” Hannah made sure that Jesse was looking at her as she spoke. “Remember when we rescued her? It seems like so many years ago, it was just months ago and she’s grown so much in that time.”

“She’s a fine little lady,” agreed Jesse.

“Okay then, don’t let her down.”

“Got’cha.”

The matter settled between them, Jesse poured Hannah more water and took a sip out of the glass before handing it to her. She drank and handed it back for him to set on the bedside table.

“How could you not know that Mitch was gay?” she asked.

“He’s a dude,” objected Jesse. “I mean he fights like a man, drives big rigs, likes football and bourbon for Christ’s Sake. How could I think he was somethin’ other than heterosexual?”

“The fact that he’s never shown an interest in anyone other than the drummer for Heart of the Moon?”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“Damn.” Jesse sat back and decided he should probably reevaluate his take on a few other subjects as well. Hannah simply shook her head and closed her eyes. Jesse watched her and the baby sleep for a long time while he formed his conversation with Chelsea.
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Re: Jesse

Post by Kathy in FL » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:10 am

Well ... does it count if I feel like a zombie? :P I hate taking allergy medicine cause it makes my brain feel all balloony.

I like it ... you always leave me hanging though and in my current allergy-braindead state it makes me cranky. :lol:

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Re: Jesse

Post by Pandion » Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:39 am

Oh shit... now i ve got both Kathy and Doc to keep up with... should be quite a handful. i m currently thinking about writing something too, however you took away anything original i might try to write.

Having said that well done both of you, and keep on writing...

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Re: Jesse

Post by mtnfolk mike » Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:48 pm

great stuff man.. i like it...
>>>>-----LIFE IS A KNIFE----->

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Re: Jesse

Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:11 pm

mtnfolk mike wrote:great stuff man.. i like it...
You need to read Owen.

And Hannah.

And Cole.

And 36 hours too. :wink:
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Re: Jesse

Post by doc66 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:37 pm

TGC thanks for Pimpin' for me!

Glad to see you back and alive.
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Re: Jesse

Post by Tetra Grammaton Cleric » Wed Mar 11, 2009 1:40 pm

Thanks and no problemo, Doc - I got your back.

Now get back to writin' mah stories! :D
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Re: Jesse

Post by doc66 » Wed Mar 11, 2009 3:01 pm

Tetra Grammaton Cleric wrote:
mtnfolk mike wrote:great stuff man.. i like it...
You need to read Owen.

And Hannah.

And Cole.

And 36 hours too. :wink:
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The order is 36 Hours.
Hannah
Owen
Cole
Jesse.

Linkies are inTCG's quoted post
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