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THE ORIGINAL SURVIVORS
The Original Survivors Alabama Island is copyright © 2017 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.
Cover Art © Copyright 2017 Wendell Sweet
Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
This novel is Copyright © 2017 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.
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This material is NOT edited for content. Appropriate age 18+
This excerpt is used with permission
The Mall, Morning
Joel and Haley
Amber had risen early to the smell of hot food. A few of the women had begun cooking sometime before dawn, and plates were filled with food. Eggs, sausages, toast made over the fire. Burgers, canned ham and more. The store was stocked with all sorts of food. Some of it was going bad, but much of it had stayed preserved in the freezers and coolers. No one had been inside so the cold air had lasted longer without doors opening and closing every two minutes. When would she have a chance to eat real eggs again, Amber asked herself as she devoured the food. She looked over at Haley who was eating as fast as she was.
“Pigs,” Haley agreed. She laughed. “I had no idea how hungry I was.”
“Man oh man. Me either,” Amber agreed.
“It is good,” Manny grinned from nearby. Amber gave him a smile and went back to eating. The conversation ebbed and swelled around them. What to do, where to go.
They had posted guards all night long, and although there were gunshots further away, and a few fires they could see burning back in the city, the night had passed uneventfully.
Their small group had finally decided to go towards Rochester, New York. Glenn had said that he felt that it may be their best bet, due to the fact that there were no large military bases very close to it, and the lake levels would be low for a while, so there should be no flooding.
“It’s probably dead center of the two major fault lines, and it’s further away from the Saint Lawrence,” he had ventured.
They had discussed Syracuse, which was much closer, but rejected it when Terry had pointed out that the Finger Lakes could easily flood the whole area.
Glenn had agreed, and recalled several articles that had been written about the supposed newly discovered fault lines that crisscrossed the Finger Lakes.
Haley had pointed out that Watertown had its own military base and reminded them of the new facility that had been under construction in the old caves under the city. More reason to wonder why the military wasn’t here.
“That whole complex is probably under water by now,” Glenn opinioned.
“I agree,” Scott had thrown in. “I worked there last year. It’s nowhere completely sealed up, couldn’t be. There are parts that might be okay, but if there was anyone other than a small staff down there I would be surprised. I don’t see how they could get out of there if they are there. Fort Drum would be a better bet for help.”
“And that didn’t happen,” Joel reminded, bringing the conversation full circle.
Glenn said that he felt the facility was probably destroyed, and had gone on to explain his own belief that anyone in there was either dead or trapped permanently.
“The Black River runs through that entire series of caves, even under most of the city itself. I can’t say for a fact, but I think what most likely would happen is that at least part of the cave system would collapse. They’re done for, if they’re there at all,” he had said.
In the end they had finally decided on Rochester, and they were now discussing how to get there. They had decided, at Terry’s suggestion, to use four wheel drive vehicles of some sort, and Haley had suggested that she and Joel check out the Jeep dealership across the street at the mall to see what they had on the lot.
She had also pointed out that there were several other car dealers in the same area, and if they couldn’t find what they wanted there, they would only have a short walk to another lot to find something suitable.
“If any of it runs,” Scott had added.
“Running as of yesterday,” Manny threw in. “I drove one back into the city to get my family.”
“Didn’t run for us the other day,” Joel added.
“Didn’t for me either,” Manny agreed. “CB said they thought some sort of nuclear bomb, or the meteor.”
“The meteor could have done it?” Amber asked.
“I don’t know, but they seem to think so… CB, they all think they are gods of knowledge.”
They were now discussing how many vehicles they would need, and how many people Joel and Haley would need to drive them back.
“I’m sure,” Terry continued, “that I can get a couple of the others guys to go with us.”
Glenn spoke up. “I really think then, that we ought to approach everyone else and find out who wants to go. They may not want to. We have to accept that you know.”
“He’s right,” Joel agreed, “they may not. How many of them do you know?” he asked of the small group.
“It’s a fairly tight community,” Haley said. “I’m not from here. I mean, the city seems big, the locals not so much. Very small tight knit community.”
“She’s right,” Glenn added. “I’ll go… Terry?” He turned back to Joel. “You too. Let’s go see who we got.”
“I don’t know that they’ll all want to go. I’ve already seen a few leave, and we lost a couple of people this morning,” Amber added.
“She’s right about that,” Glenn agreed, “I saw a couple of people hanging back talking together and they ended up leaving. I guess they aren’t convinced that we should leave. I can’t say I blame them really, the whole thing probably hasn’t even sunk in yet.”
“Well, let’s go see who’s left, and who wants to go then,” Joel decided. “No sense deciding this until we know for sure.”
“You mean if they don’t want to go, you’re not going?” Terry asked.
“No,” Joel said calmly. “I’m going, period.”
“Maybe we should decide right now if all of us want to go,” Glenn said. He looked around at the small assembled group, letting his eyes stop on Ed Weston.
“Ed, Dave?” Glenn asked.
“I’m in,” Ed replied, “I can’t see any reason to stay here, and I think you may be right, Glenn. I’m not so sure this is a safe place to be.” He seemed to be slightly out of sync, Glenn thought, but he answered quickly, and decisively nonetheless.
“I’m in too,” Dave said. “But what if we get to Rochester and it’s the same as here?”
“That’s a chance we’ll have to take,” Glenn replied. “In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that there is damage. My only argument is that it may be safer than here. It’s built on higher ground. It’s also a much larger city, and I think that would increase our chances of finding other people. Maybe it would allow us to get a little more insight, or information, on what happened. Who knows, they may still have power, or some form of police, hell, maybe the television stations there are still working. We don’t know, and the only way we will know is to go and find out. One thing is for certain though; Rochester is definitely built on higher ground than Watertown is. If that lake does rise, I would rather be there than here.”
Glenn looked around at the small group, and then continued.
“So, if we’re all in agreement, I guess we better go talk to the others and see how many of them are going with us, agreed” he asked turning to Haley. “You and Joel will have an idea of how many trucks we are going to need; get some drivers… How long you figure, an hour or so? I mean to get ready to go.”
“It will probably be a good three hours before we get what we need and get back,” Haley replied after a quick look at Joel who nodded.
“I think you better do the talking, Glenn,” Joel said, “They know you better than they know me, and if we’re going to get out of here today we better get our asses in gear too.”
With that the small group walked to the front of the store, where the other people had congregated by the shattered doors.
“Folks,” Glenn said as he held his hands over his head to get them to quiet down, “I’d like to talk to you.”
Most of the people there either knew Glenn, or knew of him, and they had an idea of what was coming, as most of them had been standing around listening when the conversation had first turned to leaving. They turned expectantly towards Glenn now, and waited for him to begin to speak.
“As most of you know,” Glenn began, “I’m in favor of leaving Watertown. I think you’ve all heard my reasons so I won’t go into them, but what I would like to let you know, is that if we’re going to go, and the eight of us are,” Glenn lowered his hands and gestured to include the group of people that stood around and near him, “we need to know if any of you are going to come along.”
No one answered for a few seconds. Glenn was about to begin speaking, if only to break the oppressive silence, when someone finally did. It was not what he had expected however.
“Hey? Who died and left you the boss,” a young teenager in the small group yelled out.
The young man stepped forward. His long stringy, dirty hair hung into his eyes, and he pushed it away with the back of his hand as he glared at Glenn.
“I never said I was the boss of anything,” Glenn replied quietly. “At least I don’t recall saying it.” Glenn stared calmly back at the young man.
“Well you’re the ones been doing all the talking. Who are you to say what we should or shouldn’t be doing? And how come I never heard about no fuckin’ fault line, huh?”
“Maybe if you could read,” a young man said from behind him, as he also stepped out of the small group, “you would know. It was in the paper just a few weeks ago. And if you went to school you probably would have learned about it there too. I never heard him say anything about being in charge either, but they were the ones who decided to at least do something. We were all standing around out here with our fingers up our asses before they showed up. What is it; do you still think somebody is going to show up and save us?”
The two young men were now facing each other, and the small group around them seemed to be waiting to see what would happen next.
“Listen,” Joel said as he stepped towards them. “This isn’t the time or place for this sort of crap: If you don’t want to be here fine. Nobody said you had to go anywhere. Glenn simply asked you if you wanted to go.” Joel paused as he stared at the two young men. “Sounds more as if you’ve got some sort of problem with authority. If so, that’s something you’ll have to deal with on your own time. The fact is that we can’t stay here, and we’ve decided we’re going. It’s an invitation for you to join us, but you can stay right here for all I care.”
“Oh yeah?” the kid glared at Joel.
“Look,” Joel replied, staring back, “If you have some real objections state them: Otherwise shut up, listen, or hit the road.”
“I’m outta here. Screw you people,” the young man said as he glared at Joel, and the others from the small group that had moved up beside him. “You guys do what you want, I’m leaving,” he finished. He pushed his dirty hair from his eyes once more as he turned and walked out of the store.
“Listen!” Joel said, raising his voice. “I don’t think we all have to start acting like a bunch of morons. We’re all in this together, why don’t you just listen to what Glenn has to say, and then you can decide.”
The other young man lowered the hands he had raised, and turned back towards Glenn expectantly. The rest of the crowd, realizing that the confrontation was over, and they weren’t going to see a fight, turned their attention back to Glenn. Glenn waited for them to quiet before he resumed talking.
“Let me make this clear,” Glenn said as he began to speak quietly. “I don’t want to lead anyone. All I really care about is getting out of here, same as most of you.”
Haley watched as Glenn spoke, and thought, kind of late for that, Glenn. She had noticed that everyone had seemed to gravitate to Glenn earlier when he had begun to speak. He had that kind of personality, she supposed. They also seemed to be drawn to Joel, and more than a few had asked her what her feelings were about the situation. Are we leading? She asked herself, as she turned her attention back to Glenn.
“What we have to know,” Glenn was saying, “is who wants to come with us.”
“Where will we go?” an older man asked as Glenn paused. Glenn explained their choice, and why they had made it as the group listened.
“Now, there are eight of us, and we need to know how many cars we’re going to need to get us all there. Joel and Haley are going over to the Jeep dealership and try to find us some four wheelers that will fit the bill. New if they will run, older ones if they won’t.”
“Ain’t that stealing?” someone asked.
“Not as I see it,” Glenn replied. “As I see it, they don’t belong to anyone anymore. I mean… Anyone see any police? Or really, if you think of it, has anyone seen anybody at all in authority?” he waited briefly, before continuing, half expecting the young kid to pop back in the door and say, Nobody ‘cept you, you old bastard. When he didn’t Glenn was relieved, and once again began speaking.
“No, I think being arrested for car theft is the least of our problems. I ain’t saying it wasn’t a good thought to bring up, but I’m not too worried about that at all. What I am worried about… The main thing right now anyway, is to get this show on the road before it gets much later,” Glenn said, and paused. “So, if no one has any real objections, I’d like a show of hands so we can figure out who’s going and who’s staying.”
With no discussion, five members of the dwindling group, among them the young man who had been involved in the earlier argument, turned and walked to the far side of the wide double front doors, shaking their heads as they went. The remaining people began, slowly at first, with glances at their neighbors, to raise their hands.
“Don’t just raise your hand if you’re not sure, or just because the guy standing next to you did,” Glenn said. “You have to be sure, and you should know that we may not make it. We don’t have the slightest idea what we’re going to run into on the way, or even if we’ll get there. So you better be sure, because once we go we ain’t coming back. So who’s positive?”
Several hands that had been up went down, and their owners quickly gravitated to the smaller group that had begun to form by the front doors.
Glenn looked at the young dark-haired kid he had been sure would end up with them, and then at Joel, who shrugged his shoulders and said, “Go figure.”
Four remained waiting.
“Okay then,” Joel said, “I guess we’ll only need three cars. Who wants to go with Haley and me?” There were two women and the older man who had spoken earlier.
“I’ll go,” one of the young women said, stepping forward. The older man stepped forward as well and volunteered.
“I don’t think we need both of you,” Haley said. “Jan,” she said speaking to the woman who had stepped forward first, “if you want to come, let’s get going.”
The woman followed Haley and Joel out the front doors, as the older man walked over to Glenn.
“Let’s go back to the rear” Glenn said in a low voice as he leaned closer to Scott. “I’m not so sure I want to stand up here and discuss our plans, if you catch my drift.”
“My thought exactly,” Scott said, as they walked towards the rear of the store.
Scott, Glenn, and Dave, rested up against a wide cooler at the back of the store as Glenn spoke. The two young women, Lilly and Gina, both of whom were in their late teens, stood nearby with the older man who Glenn knew as John Bolton, a retired city Councilman from the Rochester area. He had been leading one of the groups that had come in yesterday. Bolton had retired and moved to Watertown to escape the crime in Rochester. He would definitely be an asset, Glenn thought.
“Ed?” Glenn asked. “We’re going to need some other things before we go. I think maybe a couple more rifles, some camping gear, you know, things like that. If I make up a quick list, I was thinking maybe you and Gina might not mind getting it together, would you?”
“Sure,” Ed replied, “you a little concerned about that group up front?”
Glenn leveled his eyes at Ed. “Them and any others like them. I’m not so sure they can be trusted. I saw Brad Saser in the crowd there, and he had a gun of some sort stuffed into his waist band.”
“I saw that too,” Dave said, and then went on. “Did you see the way he tensed up when it looked like those two kids were going to get into it?” Dave finished.
“Yes,” Glenn replied, “I did, and it’s something I thought of earlier. I saw some others carrying guns, when we were down to the Square. I don’t much like it, but I think we have to have our own, even if only to play it safe. I mean rifles and shotguns are fine, but it doesn’t appear it’s just the gangs we have to worry about. Looks like the good guys ain’t all good guys.”
“I agree,” John said. “I spent a good deal of time in Rochester, and I took to carrying a gun with me wherever I went. I think, especially now, since we don’t seem to have any police to protect us, it’s the only smart thing to do.”
“I agree,” Scott said.
The others in the small group murmured their agreement along with him.
“Dave?” Glenn said, as he looked at him, “We’re also going to need some canned goods. Maybe some bottled water, soda, canned meats. How about you and Lilly start getting that together. Be sure to stick to the canned stuff, and toss in some basic medical stuff, you know aspirin, bandage, whatever you think we might need.” Dave nodded his head and left with Lilly. Glenn scrawled a quick list for Ed and Gina, and sent them on their way. The three remaining men watched them walk off, and then Glenn said,
“Scott? Did you see any state maps up front, at the checkouts?”
“I believe I did,” he replied, as he walked away to get one.
Scott glanced over at the group of people, who were still huddled by the front doors, as he picked up several maps and headed back to the rear of the store. They were all huddled together to one side of the front doors, talking in low whispers, and more than a few of them had turned his way as he picked up the maps.
Glenn and John were sitting on the rail of a long meat counter, talking, and drinking a couple of beers when Scott returned.
“They’re still cold if you get ’em from the back,” Glenn said as Scott approached.
Scott reached into the cooler and snagged one of the beers from the back of the cooler, where ice had formed on the condenser unit. It hadn’t completely melted in the cool interior of the store. He took a long drink of the cool liquid. Probably won’t be drinking too many cold beers anymore, he thought. He reached into the cooler fished out a six pack from the back, and carried it over to the two men who were still talking. Glenn and John both helped themselves to another beer as Scott spoke.
“Group up front is still there, and they eyeballed me pretty good when I went up to get the maps.”
“It’s probably a good thing we’re leaving,” John said. John had been in the crowd at the front of the store earlier and hadn’t liked the way the conversation had been going. “There’s a couple of loony’s in that crowd, and I’m just as glad they’re not with us.”
“I feel about the same,” Glenn said.
Scott opened one of the maps, and spread it over the glass top of the meat case.
“John thinks the best way is probably Route 3,” Glenn said.
“It cuts around the lake,” John explained, picking up the conversation. “If it’s true, what Glenn suspects about the fault line, it may be a tough way to go. But you’ve got to consider the other route, and I don’t think that’s a good choice at all. If we don’t go 3 we’re stuck with Route 81 to Syracuse and the Thruway west from there. I think we all made up our minds to avoid Syracuse, so that leaves Route 3. That will take us into Route 104, and if we take that west it will bring us into Rochester. Of course there’s still the lake to contend with.”
“I don’t think the lake is a problem,” Glenn said, “the fault line runs across the basin of the Great lakes. If it did shift, it would be a problem we might have to face down the line, but that would only be if we try to go farther west.”
“If it shifted, let’s say it did for the sake of argument, there’s no real way to know at this point anyway, we could have one hell of a big river splitting the whole eastern end of the continent, from Canada, all the way down to the Gulf coast somewhere. I know, I already been beatin’ on that horse, but I think it’s the most likely explanation. I read about it, what could happen if the fault were somehow triggered, in an article in the paper a few years back. It may seem a bit far-fetched, but there’s a lot of fact to back it up. The lakes would drop at first, and then they would level out as the new river fills up, and begin to rise again. That’s a basic way of putting it I guess, but that’s the gist of it. Right now though, if that lake really is dropping, we shouldn’t have too much trouble getting into Rochester.”
“You don’t think the road will be busted up, or flooded?” Scott asked.
“I doubt it’ll be flooded,” John replied, “if the lake is dropping, that should keep the road dry. I’m not so sure it won’t be broken up some though, and we may run into some stalled traffic I suppose, but being as it was night time, the traffic shouldn’t be too awful bad, and Four Wheel Drive should get us around the worst of it anyhow.”
“I’d say it’s a much better bet than Route 81 and the Thruway,” Glenn said. “The traffic is pretty damn heavy there all the time.”
“Tell me about it.” Scott said, “I came down eighty-one on my way here the day I met you guys. I was out in Adams working that day, just happened to come in to the city. Nothing but Army trucks and traffic bumper to bumper.”
“Well then,” Glenn said, “that decides that. John, what do you think our chances are, when we get there, of finding it still standing?”
John shrugged his shoulders as he replied. “Good as any, I guess, there’s no real way to tell. I don’t think the damage here was caused by the meteor, I think we all agree it was most likely an earthquake, but that doesn’t mean Rochester’s still standing. And it says nothing about what’s beyond Rochester.”
The other two men nodded in agreement. He was right, Scott realized, as he pulled another beer from the plastic collar that held it. They would simply have to get there before they knew. He sat beside them on the small rail drinking the semi-cold beer.
A short time later a loud commotion at the front of the store, caught their attention.
“Shit,” Scott said as the three of them hurried in the direction of the front of the store, “What the hell’s up now?”
Haley was standing over the young man with the long greasy hair who had caused the earlier argument, with her fists clenched. Joel and Jan were standing in front of her trying to hold back the small group of people.
“What the hell’s going on here?” Glenn shouted as he came up the aisle with Scott and John.
“This ass-hole,” Haley said, waving her hand to indicate the young man on the floor, “and his buddy over there,” she pointed towards Brad Saser, who was standing in the crowd. “Tried to jump us when we walked in the front door.”
Dave and Lilly emerged from one of the other aisles and stood next to Haley and Terry as the kid picked himself up off the floor and retreated to the safety of the other group. The two groups stared at each other across the small space for a few seconds, and then Brad Saser stepped out of the small group with a pistol gripped in one hand.
“Don’t have to be nobody killed,” he said, as he waved the pistol in their direction. “We want them Jeep’s, that’s all.”
Joel returned the man’s icy stare. “If you want one, why don’t you go get one? If I recall correctly, you didn’t want to come along in the first place, and if you want to leave now there are plenty more cars just lying around waiting to be taken. Take one and go for Christ’s sake.”
“Oh, I want to go. In fact we all do,” he replied, as he waved the gun around to include the group behind him. “We will too, but since you already got three good Four-Bys all gassed up and ready, it’ll save us the trouble of bothering, and this gun says we’ll be takin’ em. Now give me the keys, Bitch,” he snarled, glaring at Haley.
“You want them?” she asked sweetly, “You come and get them.”
“I swear I’ll blow your brains right out the back of your fuckin’ head,” he said as he started towards her.
Joel took two steps, and placed himself between them.
“Buddy, I don’t give a fuck about you at all,” Brad said, and pointed the gun at Joel’s head, “I’d just as soon…”
Before Brad Saser could finish what he had been about to say, a voice from the front of the store broke in.
“You got two seconds to drop that gun, Brad, or I swear I’ll put a bullet right through you.”
Ed was standing in the doorway with Gina, and both of them had high powered deer rifles pointed at Brad.
“I shit you not, Brad, I’ll shoot you like a woodchuck and leave you laying there, Man,” Ed said, as Brad turned around.
Brad looked back at the group of people behind him for help, but no one moved. Joel reached out quickly and grabbed the gun from his grip, and with one meaty hand shoved the man to the floor.
“I believe we’ll be leaving,” he said, first to Brad, and then lifting his eyes to include the group of people behind him. “And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay the hell out of our way.”
Dave retreated down one aisle, and returned within a few minutes pushing a large steel stocking cart.
“I’d watch them kind of close,” Glenn whispered, as he moved up to Joel’s side, “that may not have been the only gun they had.”
Joel held the pistol in his hand, pointed towards the silent group of people as the others left the store through the wide front doors. Glenn waited with him.
“I’d like to say it’s been nice, but it hasn’t,” Joel said to the crowd of people.
“You really should give some thought to coming with us,” Glenn said, “I ain’t so sure you picked yourselves a very good horse if you’re counting on him,” Glenn finished, pointing at Brad, who was still on the floor. The small group of people remained silent.
“Suit yourselves,” Glenn finished. He followed Joel out the front doors and into the parking lot.
The two men paused outside; waiting in the drizzle falling from the rapidly darkening skies, as Dave and a couple of the others loaded the Jeeps. “You think,” Joel asked, “that there will be others like them?”
“I hate to say it, but yes.” Glenn replied as they slowly walked across the lot towards the three Cherokee’s that sat idling, “I’d like to think a little better of the human race, but we are what we are. I expect we’ll run in to a whole shit load of those types.”
“It’s a good thing Ed and Gina picked up guns then,” Joel replied thoughtfully. “No telling what kind of animals we’ll run into and I don’t necessarily mean the furry kind.”
Once the vehicles were loaded, Joel and Glenn climbed into the open rear door of one of the Jeep’s with John.
Haley was in the front driver’s seat with Amber beside her. The second Jeep, with Scott driving and Jan in the passenger seat, Lilly in the back, pulled in behind them. Ed drove the last Jeep, with Dave riding beside him; a shotgun was resting between his knees. Gina in the back seat with her own rifle, a wire stock model that looked wildly military to Joel when he had seen it. Terry on the other back window, a heavy shotgun resting between his legs, and two 45 caliber pistols on a wide belt at his waist. There were a few more of guns scattered among them, Joel knew: He, Haley, Scott, Amber, a few others, but a few had stuck to rifles or shotguns.
The rain that had been threatening began to fall hard as the small caravan pulled out of the parking lot, turned right on the crowded street, and began to weave through the stalled traffic heading out Route 3…
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The Original Survivors: Alabama Island. A group of survivors head south looking for safety…