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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:28 am 
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Hunt4lyf wrote:
Resolute wrote:
Glad to hear you're still around, man. This story is a great one - I've been subscribed to this for years waiting for you to continue :)


Me too, I guess I’ll have to go back and read all the other books in anticipation of this one continuing.


I didn't even want to start this story until I knew it had an ending. Guess I'll be going back to Hannah, Owen, and Cole too :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:08 pm 
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idahobob wrote:
I'll believe it when I see it. :roll:

Bob


Thank's Bob!

I'm rereading to get the feel of the characters... but honestly, I started working on this again.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 12:35 am 
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doc66 wrote:
idahobob wrote:
I'll believe it when I see it. :roll:

Bob


Thank's Bob!

I'm rereading to get the feel of the characters... but honestly, I started working on this again.


Hell yeah!!! Can't wait!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:58 am 
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Hunt4lyf wrote:

Hell yeah!!! Can't wait!!!


agreed !!! can't hardly believe it !!!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:43 pm 
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Sweet! I need to reread all of these to re familiarize myself too.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:11 am 
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I just started reading this and love it already but it looks like there is a lot of story prior to this, what should I be reading in what order?


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 8:47 am 
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2t2-crash you should start with
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14938

then
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=22556

then
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14726

and after that
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=20354

im not sure about the order of the last two , but i think that is how it goes . hope this helps and happy reading.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 9:44 pm 
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bodyparts wrote:
2t2-crash you should start with
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14938

then
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=22556

then
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14726

and after that
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=20354

im not sure about the order of the last two , but i think that is how it goes . hope this helps and happy reading.



Well, there goes my weekend! :lol:

I’ve read them before, but just browsing got me hooked all over again...really good stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 4:10 am 
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bodyparts wrote:
2t2-crash you should start with
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14938

then
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=22556

then
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=14726

and after that
viewtopic.php?f=113&t=20354

im not sure about the order of the last two , but i think that is how it goes . hope this helps and happy reading.

Thankyou!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:49 am 
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91Eunozs, 2t2-crash glad i could help yall out . :D


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Sat Jan 27, 2018 11:13 pm 
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Big and Daft wrote:
Hunt4lyf wrote:
Resolute wrote:
Glad to hear you're still around, man. This story is a great one - I've been subscribed to this for years waiting for you to continue :)


Me too, I guess I’ll have to go back and read all the other books in anticipation of this one continuing.


I didn't even want to start this story until I knew it had an ending. Guess I'll be going back to Hannah, Owen, and Cole too :clap:


Don't start it yet. But read the others. I'm rereading, as I said.

Congratulations to me; I got a promotion at work. My hours will change, and it might actually be for the better.

Back from a four day camp!

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:07 pm 
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doc66 wrote:
Big and Daft wrote:
Hunt4lyf wrote:
Resolute wrote:
Glad to hear you're still around, man. This story is a great one - I've been subscribed to this for years waiting for you to continue :)


Me too, I guess I’ll have to go back and read all the other books in anticipation of this one continuing.


I didn't even want to start this story until I knew it had an ending. Guess I'll be going back to Hannah, Owen, and Cole too :clap:


Don't start it yet. But read the others. I'm rereading, as I said.

Congratulations to me; I got a promotion at work. My hours will change, and it might actually be for the better.

Back from a four day camp!


I`m looking forward to re reading all of these.

Do we have a combined document with them all in there up to date? I made one forever ago but have since lost it.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Sat Feb 03, 2018 2:47 pm 
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doc66 wrote:
Big and Daft wrote:
Hunt4lyf wrote:
Resolute wrote:
Glad to hear you're still around, man. This story is a great one - I've been subscribed to this for years waiting for you to continue :)


Me too, I guess I’ll have to go back and read all the other books in anticipation of this one continuing.


I didn't even want to start this story until I knew it had an ending. Guess I'll be going back to Hannah, Owen, and Cole too :clap:


Don't start it yet. But read the others. I'm rereading, as I said.

Congratulations to me; I got a promotion at work. My hours will change, and it might actually be for the better.

Back from a four day camp!


Congrats!


Finally caught up (again!) last night... Now where’s the update? :lol:



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... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:28 am 
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A little something to get back into the flow.


From his place of concealment--a small closet like room off the gathering place--Jesse watched as Ron gathered his crew together. The remains of the supplies had all been handed out, and the man who was the supposed leader of the caravan cast a quick look around the gathering hall to be sure no one was close by. His eyes scanned over the few remaining people, saw that no seemed to be paying attention. Once sure there was no one else around, Ron directed one of the men to what looked like a pile of junk against the wall. The man threw off a drop cloth and pulled free a box, tucking it close to his body, the man walked quickly to one of the exits and outside. This action was repeated by the other men until Ron was let in the room by himself. The man nodded once and after grabbing up the drop cloth, draping it over a long gun, which looked suspiciously enough like one of the AR's Jesse and Mitch had brought from the Lodge that Jesse very nearly stepped out to confront the man. Instead he took a deep breath, vowing to himself to get the rifle back before the man was out of the gate, although he suspected he would be seeing the rifle before that point.

Once the man was outside, Jesse made a quick sweep of the room, focusing on the area where the boxes had been concealed under the cloth. There was no evidence of what might have been under the cloth, but Jesse had his suspicions, believing Ron had kept out choice bits of food and gear for his own use and survival. A scattering of gunshots came from the exterior and Jesse ran to the doorway to see what might have caused the shooting, hoping that the fragile fence had not given way yet again. He blinked in the bright sunlight, seeing several people aiming at where the fence bowed, threatening to come down. Jesse knew killing the front rows would not relieve the pressure on the fence. The unanimated corpses would only add to the weight. If there was a move to be made, now was the time. Jesse headed for the Toyota; he did not want to be separated from the vehicle when the entire place came down.

As he moved, he could see that others had the same idea, and people were frantically trying to gather friends and loved ones together, shouting and calling out as the fence seemed to sag to the point that the links threatened to burst. The groans of the undead filled the air to the point the other voices were lost in the din, the words blurred to a simple drone of urgency and fear. Unless the people were close by, Jesse only heard the tone, and the tenor made him pick up his pace. He hoped that Mitch and Lorain were readying the TLC; he was afraid they were going to have to move quickly and around the others when the time came, possibly leaving desperate people in their wake.

“Jesse,” came a call.

It was natural for him to search out the owner of the voice, even though as he did so, he knew he should just keep moving. He saw Ron standing with several other of the men, the AR seemingly lazily pointed at him.

“Ron,” replied Jesse, slowing in his steps but still moving toward the Land Cruiser.

“Woah, slow down there, we need to talk.”

“We can walk and talk,” said Jesse, turning back in the direction of the Land Cruiser. He found his way blocked by a man with a short shotgun. Jesse nodded to himself and turned to Ron. “What can I help you with?”

“Well, this is the polite way of me saying to you, we’ll relieve you of the rest of your gear,” Ron told him tightly. “The Land Cruiser, the gear in the box, you know, all of it.”

“My first instinct is to tell you to fuck off,” said Jesse. The man with the shotgun moved up and pointed it at Jesse’s head. There were shouts off in the distance, and the noise level of the undead rose to concert-like levels, making Jesse feel like he had to shout to be heard.

“Now, don’t be an idiot,” shouted Ron back at him. He glanced over his shoulder where the noise was getting louder. “Just step aside and I might even let you keep your pistol. Tell you boyfriend to not put up a fight, and everyone can live as long as they can.”

“The fence is breaking,” reported one of Ron’s cohorts.

Ron nodded. “Move, Jesse.”

There was a scream and someone started shooting. Jesse took the opportunity to move away from the barrel of the shotgun as the man holding it swung toward the sound. The fence was falling inward, and the undead tumbled over each other, falling as they were tangled up with each other engines roared to life, and vehicles began to move haphazardly to escape the crush of the undead. A shot rang out closer to Jesse and he watched the man holding the shotgun fall, his head disappearing in a cloud of red mist and bone fragments. Sweeping his pistol up, Jesse fired a round at Ron, missing the man as Ron moved toward the noise and the vehicles desperately seeking escape from the ghouls tumbling into the yard. The bodies began to right themselves, scattering towards the few people who had not yet found their transportation. The screams disappeared in the moans of the dead. Trucks lurched forward, a garbage truck and a dump truck collided, their bumpers locking together, the drivers frantically trying to untangle the vehicles, metal shrieking and twisting, the big trucks pushing and pulling at each other unsuccessful at pulling apart, only grinding together and blocking those behind from the gate which was now being forced opened by the lead vehicle.

Ron was shouting, shooting into the mass of undead, trying to give direction, but only adding to the confusion. Suddenly he too fell, his head expanding and blowing blood and brain into the air. His remains dropped just feet away from Jesse, who, holstering his pistol, ran forward and grabbed up the AR, sweeping it up to shoot a ghoul coming at him in a staggering run. Another zombie dropped at Jesse’s side, the shooter now targeting the undead rather than the living who were desperately trying to stay that way. Jesse took a moment to look around and saw Mitch move from his vantage point, the .308 rifle in hand, toward the Toyota. Lorain was in the driver’s seat, her eyes wide and terrified. Jesse threw the sling of the AR over his shoulder, stopped long enough to grab the shotgun, and ran for the Toyota.

The growls of the undead were loud in his ears as he ran. Mitch was standing in the open door of the yellow TLC, shooting at the clusters of undead, trying to keep the path open for Jesse. Lorain gunned the engine and shouted something at Mitch—Jesse could see her mouth moving—and Mitch seemed to struggle for a second before ducking into the cab and slamming the door shut. The Toyota surged at Jesse, Lorain concentrating on her open path way and Jesse growled in fear and frustration, knowing he would not make it to the Toyota in time. A ghoul, ravaged by time and weather and rot, lurched in front of the SUV, Lorain gunned the motor, bouncing the former soul off the push bars as she guided the four wheel drive through the front ranks of the undead.

Jesse used the shotgun, firing from his shoulder, but not really aiming, blasting away at one of the monsters staggering between him and the SUV. The blast stopped the thing for a moment, and then it moved toward Jesse. He pumped the chamber empty and full, firing again, this time succeeding in splintering apart the things head. It fell, only to be replaced. Jesse fired again, sure he was now surrounded and close to death. The smell was over powering, the noise hammered at his ears. He felt a hand reach for him and frantically shrugged it away, letting out an involuntary shout as he hit at the beast with the butt of the shotgun. The Toyota slammed into the fiend, clearing the path beside Jesse while Mitch threw open the door for Jesse to dive into. He blasted at another undead before dropping the shotgun and grabbing the door frame while shouting for Lorain to drive, drive, drive. Jesse managed to get in the seat as a monster grabbed for him. Mitch shot the head off the body and it fell away so that Jesse could slam the door shut.

“I don’t think we can get out,” said Lorain.

Jesse gazed at the crush of animated bodies around them and the tangle of vehicles containing the desperate people attempting to escape and knew she might be right.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:54 am 
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Welcome back Doc !! Thank you for the long awaited update !! congrats on the promotion !


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:46 pm 
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:clap: :clap: :clap:

Indeed... Welcome back!

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 3:40 am 
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I just read and loved all stories, glad to see the story start up again!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:51 am 
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Jesse remembered during the months he was in prison, the Latin gangbangers would play their music over the tinny speakers and make jailhouse tamales out of bags of Fritos and douse them in hot sauce. He liked both the music and the tamales, and found an In by being able to supply them with BBQ beef from the outside that a biker he knew would convey with his weekly delivery of cases of toilet paper. Jesse would be sure that the guards that day got a portion for their lunch, and the rest went to the Latin bangers who allowed Jesse to live on the edge of their cell block and listen to Residente, Nas, and Sensato del Patio, and eat the beef tamales in an uneasy truce. It kept the Aryan Brotherhood away from him, and as long as he didn’t piss anyone off, he didn’t have to get into too many fights.

As the Toyota Land Cruiser barreled around the tangle of wreckage that was the dump truck and garbage truck, the words to the song, Me Gusta Tu, were in his head. It was a surreal experience, because he hadn’t thought about prison for a long time, nor had he thought he could remember the words to the Manu Chao song. Racing passed the wreckage, Jesse could see that the undead were swarming around the vehicles, using the various hand holds to pull at the machines, some of them managing to pull themselves up onto the small platforms as the occupants tried to defend the now immobile hunks of steel. An errant bullet punched through the cab of the Toyota, making Lorain swear and duck her head as a new hole appeared in the roof line and another bored through the door at Jesse’s knee.

Someone screamed at they were dragged from the back of the dump truck. The growls and moans of the monsters rose in triumph while the TLC barreled passed.

“Go around the building,” ordered Jesse.

“The gate’s that way,” growled Lorain, taking a moment to gesture toward where the main gate was being overrun by the undead. She saw the crush of bodies, the fence collapsing from the weight of the dead, the tangle of vehicles as they tried to move against the horde, the blood, the death, and made a hard turn around the building.

There were fewer of the monsters here; the main meal was out near the gate, and the multitude of hungry, mindless, mouths were concentrated there at the failing security of the fence and the mass of vehicles unable to move effectively enough to break free of the crush. Lorain managed to bump a few off the push bar, sending them spinning away from the four by four with little more than the crunch of bone and a spatter of dark blood.

“What are we going to do?” asked Mitch.

“I don’t know,” admitted Jesse. “Park the Toyota and run for the building?”

“Then we’re trapped inside,” pointed out Lorain. “I don’t know about you, but I’d rather die shooting my way through that mess, than starve to death looking at your ugly ass.”

Mitch voiced his agreement from the back of the Land Cruiser.

“You can drive around until we run out of gas,” suggested Jesse, irritated that the plan fell on him to escape.

Lorain took the next corner. “We need to come up with something; another two turns and we’re back where we began.”

Jesse pointed to where the white van sat, the side door open as Rich and another man tossed bags and boxes into the interior while another man ushered a woman and a child into the rear seats and handed them what looked to be pistols. Rich stopped long enough to fire a compound bow at a zombie that had stagger close to the van. The bow thumped and the arrow took the monster in the forehead. It seemed to fold upon itself as it fell, but another appeared and Rich struggled with the bow for a second as the arrow in the quiver attached to the bow seemed to hang up. Lorain solved the problem by simply hitting the monster with the Toyota. It thumped against the hood, leaving yet another dent in the sheet metal.

Jesse pulled himself out of the window, sitting on the door frame and looked over the top of the roof at Rich.

“What’s the plan?”

The man helping Rich climbed into the van and Rich handed him the bow. “There’s a small gate behind the stacks of concrete block we can squeeze through. It was used for the mowers.”

“You’ve been keeping that to yourself,” chided Jesse.

“I didn’t want a bunch of people trying to escape through it and then letting the fuckers, in, but I guess that doesn’t matter now.”

Rich looked to where the undead were starting to lose interest in the vehicles and beginning to break off from the main group and wander the yard. The vehicles were still trying to push through the host of ghouls which were screaming and scratching at the windows and metal and pulling everything off the vehicles that they could. A truck was stopped, it’s tires caught on something they could not see—probably a section of the fence—the rubber spinning and burning and filling the air with the stench of burning and thick white smoke, adding to the confusion as another plow truck pushed against the undead nearby, it’s engine growling and exhaust billowing white smoke that stank of antifreeze as it pushed the crush aside.

“Lead on,” said Jesse.

Rich nodded, jumping in the van and slamming the door shut. There were so very few people in the van, thought Jesse. The van struggled to life, it’s engine finally rolling over in a harsh bark of gray smoke from the exhaust. The driver started the van rolling toward where Rich had indicated, easing the van slowly through the space through the mound of block. Lorain followed, inhaling as the TLC scraped passed the block on one side and the fence on the other. The noise of the massacre faded as the concrete blocked the debacle from their sight.

On this side of the fence, there were no undead. They had all seemed to be drawn to the front of the yard, attracted by the noise of the engines and the screams of the dying. Lorain concentrated on keeping the Land Cruiser between the fence and blocks.

“How are we going to make a turn in here?” wondered Mitch.

“My Mad Skills,” said Lorain, easing the TLC to a stop behind the van. Rich jumped out of the van. squeezing himself between the vehicle and the block until he disappeared from their view. “Come on, come on,” muttered Lorain.

If they were trapped in this spot, they had nowhere to go.

The van lurched forward, and began to make a turn. It squeezed between two posts, the side scraping down the pole, the metal screaming as it was pressed and buckled and torn to make the corner. There was a moment when the bumper seemed to catch on the post, and the van seemed to stop, hung up on the post and captured there, tires spinning. Then the tires caught, and the bumper twisted, and the van leaped free of the post, bending the post over when it pulled free.

Rich leaped into the van and it was tearing off through the field and knocking over tall grass in its rush to reach the road. Undead began to stagger after them, pulled from the mass at the front by the noise and movement of the van. Others turned toward where the TLC was beginning its movement through the opening in the fence.

“Shit. Shit.”

Lorain eased up to the opening and cranked hard on the steering wheel, watching the mirrors, the hood, the push bars, as they lead the Land Cruiser through the narrow opening. They seemed to be doing fine, until the rear tire caught on the post. Lorain swore, Jesse began cursing, Mitch was yelling at her to gun it, that they dead were coming, that they were going to be trapped.

Lorain put her foot down on the accelerator. The Toyota Land Cruiser protested, the engine howled and the tires barked and dug into the dirt and gravel and the spray of both could be heard clattering against the quarter panels, chattering against the metal. The tire spun away from the post and the back end of the Toyota fishtailed against the post on the opposite side, the sheet metal popping as the post dented the panel and the four by four bounced out into the field away from the fence. Lorain let out a shout, and Jesse joined her as Mitch pounded happily on the back of the driver’s seat. Lorain pointed the Toyota for the road, following the path laid by the van, swerving to avoid the undead now staggering through the field.

Jesse cast a glance at the embattled compound behind them, seeing the truck with the plow gainthe road a race off in the other direction. He sighed and shook his head at the loss.

“Qué voy a hacer? Je ne sais pas, ¿Qué voy a hacer? Je ne sais plus, ¿Qué voy a hacer? Je suis perdu
¿Qué horas son, mi corazón?” he whispered, singing softly to himself.

“What?” asked Lorain, as the Toyota bounced up onto the pavement with the screech of tires.

“It’s a song,” said Jesse.

“What’s it mean?”

“I would like to give you a kiss, I have saved for you, I would like to give you all, And if it doesn't exist, I try this only for you,” roughly translated Jesse, singing.

“What the fuck?” asked Lorain.

“Nothing,” said Jesse.

Mitch spoke up from the back seat. “We are out here looking for a woman.”

“What?” asked Lorain, incredulously. “What the fuck?”

Jesse shrugged. He didn’t have an answer that made much more sense than Mitch’s.

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:08 am 
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We got MOAR!

Hooray!! :clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:12 am 
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Thanks Doc!!! It's good to see Jesse moving along again. Great stuff!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:07 pm 
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Nice!!

Great update...

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... you don't want to blow a tranny in the middle of a pursuit...
woodsghost wrote:
... A defensive gun without training is basically a talisman. It might ward off evil, but I wouldn't count on it.


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:44 am 
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Sweet! :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 8:48 pm 
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thanks for the update Doc !!! good stuff as always!!


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 Post subject: Re: Jesse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 12:00 am 
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On reaching the roadway, Lorain put her foot down on the accelerator as the van began to fade from sight. Around them the trees flashed by, fields which used to be lawns partially concealed the houses sitting back off the roadway. As Jesse looked out over the expanse of flat, western Ohio, he realized why people often said the state was boring and featureless. Glaciation had leveled any feature above 50 feet tall a million years ago, or however long ago it had happened. Jesse had to wonder what would come next, once all the people were eradicated off the face of the earth by their own hand. He missed the rolling hills and rivers of the central part of the state. As Jesse thought about the plague and the area around the Lodge, his mind went back to the conversation he had with Nolan, the doctor at the Lodge, about how the plague was basically in their blood now and every generation might be affected by the plague. He wondered if they would develop a resistance to the genetic mutation, if there were a vaccine, like polio, or, if they were simply doomed as a race. Nolan had spoken about an attempt called ProtoBlood, a failed attempt. Would all attempts fail, or would someone, somewhere, finally get it right. Jesse sighed and sifted in his seat, forcing the foreboding thoughts from his mind. Occasionally, Lorain weaved in the road to guide the battered Toyota around abandoned vehicles covered in layers of dust, the windows nearly opaque with the film of time, dirt, and condensation. The undead all seemed to have been drawn to the compound from miles around, and there were none on the road as they raced to catch up with the van. Behind him, Jesse could hear Mitch reloading magazines, and turned to see if he could help the man out.

Mitch held up a couple AR magazines and pointed to a can of loose ammo. Jesse grabbed a handful and began to pop the rounds passed the feed lips, a mindless task which did not accomplish taking his mind off the reason why he had embarked on the travel in the first place.

Shannon.

He didn’t even know her last name.

Where would one find a gypsy band by the name of Heart of the Moon, anyway? The very name conjured up images of freewheeling roamers who might turn right, or left, depending on which way the wind blew that day. Was he out on a fool’s errand? Jesse dropped the mag he had just loaded into a pouch at his belt. They had gotten information of a few sightings, most of them a month or more old, as they had travelled. Shannon hadn’t even asked him to join her when they left. Not really. The tall brunette had simply announced that she and the band were moving on, leaving the choice to Jesse to decide if he were moving with them. He had waffled, his perceived duty to the rapidly growing community at the Lodge, struggling to fit into a political system in which he found himself more and more on the outside of things. He might have been one of the original founders of the community, however, more and more Jesse found himself out maneuvered by the more experienced infighters among the elected. By the time he realized he should have gone with Heart of the Moon, the band, their gypsy trucks and trailers were already a month ahead of him.

“Who is this woman?” asked Lorain, her focus down the road, searching for obstacles and keeping an eye on the van which was slowly losing distance on them. The silence must have been getting to her.

Jesse tore himself away from the thoughts which were bouncing around his head and tapped the magazine in a worthless gesture to seat the rounds. “She’s the leader of a bunch of gypsy’s, a band, like a musical band, called Heart of the Moon.”

“No shit?” asked Lorain. “Like a bunch of painted up vans and trucks and stuff? They look like they stepped out of a Renaissance Fair or something?”

Jesse straightened up in the seat and stared at the woman for a moment. “You know about them?”

“They were here about a month ago, playing and trading and spreading around their pot,” confirmed Lorain. “There were a few fights; that’s why I remember them. They played a little rough and tumble hole in the wall compound about five or six miles outside of town. They came into town a couple times, but didn’t hang out much. They weren’t town people, if you know what I mean.”

“What rough and tumble place?” asked Jesse.

“A biker compound,” said Lorain. “Before, they were Outlaw hanger-on’s, once the shit hit, they closed up and pretty much killed everything and everyone that came too close. We had a few run in’s with them back in the day, and after, until they realized they had to start trading to exist once we all managed to survive the winter. We—the town—were able to work out a truce with them; they didn’t come to town unannounced in any kind of force, and we stayed away from their place. They’ve got a roadside bar that was a front for all their meth dealing and fencing, and that’s turned into a kinda roadhouse and neutral ground for people to unwind. They don’t do meth no more, but they’ve got a decent still and grow operation. From what I understand, those gypsies set up shop there for a while.”

“Are they still there?” asked Jesse, trying to keep the excitement from his voice. “At this roadhouse?”

“I don’t know, they might be,” said Lorain. She braked and eased around a wreck where it looked like a truck had jumped the ditch and landed on top of a car. Inside the car, the driver still clawed and reached for the freedom of the world around it. The fingers of the beast which was now the driver scraped along Jesse’s door, making him involuntarily lean away from the door. After all this time, he still sometimes found the undead unnerving.

“Might be?” Jesse prompted, pulling the partial magazine from the AR and replacing it with one he had just loaded. He began to top off the mag he pulled from the rifle. He was excited about the possibility of Heart of the Moon being at the roadhouse, but he also had enough survival instincts honed over the past year to keep to the task of reloading.

Lorain glanced over at Jesse and shrugged. “I’m a cop—was a cop. That kinda place isn’t exactly going to welcome me with open fucking arms. Even after, the fuckers had rules. It’s not someplace I can just waltz into.”

“But you know where it is,” said Jesse.

“Of course.”

Nodding, Jesse put the magazine in one of the pouches on his belt. “Okay. Good. Catch up to the van.”

“I’m working on it,” assured Lorain. “But, Rich ain’t gonna want to go there any more than I do.”

“I get it,” Jesse assured her. “But you can tell me how to get there?”

Lorain studied Jesse for a moment before looking back at the road where the van was now only a mile or so ahead of them. “I can.”

“That’s all I want.”

Mitch leaned up between the seats. “Where are they going?” he asked, indicating the van.

“I’m not sure,” admitted Lorain. “Hopefully someplace safe.”

“Does such a place exist?” asked Mitch.

Jesse nodded, speaking without thinking; “One place.”

Lorain cast a sideways glance at the two men, both of whom were nodding in unison about their safe place. Remembering the Lodge and the peninsula jutting out onto the lake, both men felt a moment of nostalgia, not only for the people and the place, but for the sense of security they had felt. It was as safe as anything the world had to offer.

“What place?” asked Lorain.

Jesse laughed. “Like we’re going to tell you.”

Lorain frowned at them, turning back to the road and concentrated on catching up to the van. Jesse sat back, wondering if his memories of the Lodge were flawed, if he were simply creating a place in his mind to escape from the horrors they had been encountering on their journey. He wanted to catch up to Heart of the Moon, and Shannon. Perhaps his memory there was flawed as well. Jesse was momentarily afraid he was projecting his own needs and wants on the memories he was having of the woman who lead the gypsies from place to place. He dismissed his fears. It did not matter right now, at this moment. Jesse needed to simply find Shannon, and once he did, he could either confirm or repudiate whether or not this entire adventure was a wild goose chase on his part, or the beginning of the rest of his life.

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