America The Dead episode five
EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Based on the series by W. G. Sweet
AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Copyright © 2013 by independAntwriters All Rights Reserved
Writers: W.W. Watson, Geo Dell, W.G. Sweet, G.D. Smitty
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the authors imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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EARTH’S SURVIVOR’S – AMERICA the DEAD: BOOK ONE
Everyone was up early and ready to go before the sun was barely above the horizon.
“Yesterday,” Jake said to no one in particular. “Thirty two hours long.” Silence greeted his remark. Katie checked her own watch.
“So, like, that means things are slowing down,” Lana asked?
“You think,” Jake asked unkindly.
“Well, something like that,” Lana shot back defensively.
“Why would it go backwards,” James asked?
“Yeah. Wasn’t it supposed to stop, reverse and then start up again,” Lana asked?
“Maybe,” Conner agreed. “But that was all based on theory. No facts involved at all. I think they had some evidence that the poles had reversed at a few points in history before. And some legends that spoke about the Earth standing still for a day, something like that. But even so, that’s all theory. Not fact.”
“Yeah,” Jake chimed in. “It’s like an asshole. Everyone’s got one.”
“Don’t you mean opinion,” Lana asked sweetly?
“Whatever… We ready to go, or what,” Jake asked? Everyone followed him outside in the uncomfortable silence that fell.
“What’s up with those two,” Katie whispered as she followed Conner outside.
“Who knows,” Conner whispered back. James met his eyes and raised his eyebrows. Conner shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if to say I don’t know.
“We may as well take all three trucks,” James suggested. “That way if we find stuff we want it’ll save us driving back to get them.”
“Easier if we get stuck too,” Katie suggested.
Jake shrugged his shoulders. “Fine by me,” he said. He headed for the Suburban with Lana right behind him. Jana and Katie headed for the pickup truck. James broke into a laugh and grinned at Conner. “Guess that leaves me and you in the old dinosaur… Want to drive?”
“After you,” Conner said laughing. James started the truck and pulled out last in line and followed the other two trucks as they picked their way along the edge of the ruined road.
“It was me that asked Jana to go with Katie,” James said as they followed slowly along behind the other trucks.
Conner nodded. His eyes following the sides of the road as James drove along. “I thought it was something like that,” he said. “What’s on your mind, James?”
“Well… A lot,” James said after a second or two. He hesitated a little longer. “I guess mainly to say Jana and I would like to go with you when you leave… And Katie, I assume.”
“Yeah,” Conner agreed. “I know that probably seemed kind of quick.”
“Quick world,” Conner finished. “Katie said the same thing. I don’t know how much better off we’ll be, but we’d be glad to have you two with us if you want to come.”
“We would. Jana and I talked it over. We talked all night long last night. I got nothing personal against Jake; he did alright by us, but he’s a little too…”
“Demanding…? Aggressive..?” Conner supplied.
James looked thoughtful. “I don’t know… Something like that. I just don’t see him being able to see this through. I feel like if we came back here in ten years we’d find him still holed up in that … He’s… I don’t know… Too immature to talk to about it. He has only one way of looking at things… That can’t work.”
“You’re probably right. He’d still be here with Lana… Probably with a couple of babies running around… But, maybe that’s not such a bad thing…Maybe that’s a good thing…” He shrugged. “The immaturity… I don’t know… It’s there though. Maybe he’ll move out of that. Maybe it’s just the situation.”
“Maybe,” James agreed. “But that’s exactly the time he should be mature, isn’t it?”
Conner nodded. James continued.
“So, maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But not for me. I don’t want to stay here. Nor Jana either. I wouldn’t want to quit this unless I knew this was all there was. I mean, this couldn’t be worldwide, could it?”
“I don’t know,” Conner said softly. “But I agree. I know what you mean. Katie and I talked about it last night as well and came to the same opinion. It could be better elsewhere, and, whatever is right for Jake or Lana isn’t necessarily right for us. I was for going from the start. I have to know if this is really the end. If there’s anything else. If it is I’ll deal with it. Find a place to settle down. Thank God I have Katie, you and Jana… Maybe we’ll meet others on the way to… Well, where ever.”
“I think so,” James said. “There are people, other people around. We just got to find them… Or them us.”
“Yeah… We got to remember rifles or pistols… I hate to say it, James, but we may need them.”
“Yeah,” he nodded, “Yeah.”
They continued on in silence as the small caravan made its way past a collapsed building partially blocking what was left of the road.
“I think… It’s not my business,” James said, “But I think you made an enemy of Lana. She was thinking you would be with her…”
“Yeah… I could see that, James… I don’t think Jake was pleased either.”
James nodded. “Nope… None too… Him I wouldn’t worry about though. Her, she’s pretty spiteful. I’ve only known her for a week, but it’s enough. That child did pretty much what she wanted to I’ll bet… Used to having her own way… Getting what she wants… When she wants it.”
“Yeah… I can see that… But last night we talked about the journals; I’m keeping one, Katie is as well, Lana said she would… Something to leave when we leave…”
“It’s not a bad idea,” James agreed. “I’m not much for writing myself, but Jana might like it.”
Conner nodded. “Well, Lana liked the idea. She didn’t say she’d go, but she might… So, hate me or not, she might be with us.”
“Oh,” James said. “I see that. Maybe she’ll be okay… She’s a kid… Maybe she’ll change.”
“Guess we’ll have to see,” Conner agreed. “Guess we’ll have to see.”
James worked the truck up and over a huge slab of up-tilted asphalt and followed along behind the other two trucks as they made their way down the strip.
“What did you think of the idea that Jake had of fixing up one of the new trucks,” Conner ventured after a few minutes.”
“Won’t work. Or at least it won’t work without a lot of trouble. The new engines are computer dependent. We could probably find ourselves another motor, maybe even a new crate motor at a parts store somewhere around here,” James said.
“What’s a crate motor,” Conner asked?
“It just means a new motor, all crated up when it was sent from the factory. They sell them. Race cars. Old rebuilds… Like that. But even if we couldn’t find a crate motor, we could find enough parts to rebuild anything we would need to rebuild on nearly any vehicle. So really, when we’re done, we’d have what amounted to a new vehicle. Jake wants to oversimplify that. He thinks we can just find the parts and swap them out on the motor that’s in the truck. Maybe we can… I’m not that good though, and I don’t think he is. I think we should stick to what we can do for sure. Utilize what we have… The new parts.”
“That what you think we should do? Build a vehicle?”
“Yeah… Maybe two… Four wheel drive of course. Go right through them top to bottom. Everything new. It would take a few weeks, but we’ve got that and more. Meantime you could work on your Ham radio idea, “James finished.
“Can you get electric? Those big Ham radio outfits need regular power.”
“Yeah, that’s not a problem. We’ll just find a generator. That will give us all the power we need. We could even hook up a power inverter to give us one twenty in the vehicle,” James added.
Conner nodded. “So we’re going to jump right into this thing. Get ready to go?”
James nodded. “I’m with you. I’m not spending next winter in a cold factory building unless I have to. There’s a place in Tennessee… Maybe Kentucky.” He closed his eyes for a split second as if seeing something only he could see. He shook his head, frowned and then continued. “If not, I’m thinking the coast… Southern or western, either will do. Whichever one looks to be the better bet. And who knows how hard it’ll be to get there? So the sooner we’re ready to go the better.”
“I agree,” Conner said. “I’ll talk to Katie.
“And I’ll talk to, Jana. But we already talked…”
“So did we,” Conner agreed. They both laughed.
James angled the big truck around a final piece of asphalt and into a cracked and buckled parking lot. The two other vehicles sat silent; waiting for them.
As they left the truck Conner noticed that the store hadn’t seemed to incur any more damage since the last time that he had been there. The roof was bowed inward, it had been before, but there were plenty of upright pillars that supported the roof and they all appeared intact. At least the ones he could easily see. The supports were spaced about every sixteen or so feet.
“Safe,” Jake asked?
“Looks the same as it did the last time,” Conner allowed. Katie and James looked at him and he shrugged. “I’d say so. It looks the same as it did the last time I was here. It doesn’t even look as though anyone has been here.”
The scattered, powdered snow seemed undisturbed around the shattered doorway that lead into the building. Conner snapped his flashlight on and led the way inside.
The inside of the store told a different story. Someone had been there during the time Conner had last been there. Several of the glass display cases that held the weapons had been damaged. They were locked. Who ever had made the attempt had made it halfheartedly. The glass was safety glass of some sort. It had cracked, spider webbed, but it had not broken and caved in.
“Guess someone tried to get in,” James offered.
Jake held up a discarded crow bar. Even in the weak light they could see the streaks of scarlet on one end. Jake let it fall to the floor. The clatter was loud enough to make Lana draw in a quick breath in the broken silence that followed.
“Jesus, Jake,” She sputtered. Jake only grinned.
“Why does someone go through all of that when they could’ve taken a simple screw driver and just popped the locks,” Katie asked?
“Well,” Jake started.
Katie had walked behind the counter, taken a screw driver from her pocket and began to jimmy the lock mechanism. It was a cheap sliding set and easily bent to one side far enough to slide the glass door open. Katie smiled.
“Learn that up in the big city, Miss,” Conner asked with a smile.
Katie smiled back, reached inside the case, careful of the glass that had sprayed in small slivers from the spider webs in the top, and withdrew pistol after pistol, setting them on a wooden topped case next to the cash register.
“Forty five caliber… Nine millimeter, a cheap one though… Three eighty, kind of nice, though small… Here’s a much nicer Nine Millimeter…” She set several more guns on the wooden top, looked up with a crooked grin and asked, “Well, gentlemen…Lady… what will it be?”
“You really know about this kind of shit,” Lana asked in an awed voice.
“Obviously well enough to know what’s what,” Jake said.
“That’s right. Obviously well enough,” Katie agreed. She gave no further explanation.
“What do you think, Katie,” Jana asked?
“Yeah, what would be the best,” Conner asked?
Katie shrugged. “It depends on what you like. I like a three eighty myself. It’s small. Not as heavy as a Nine millimeter.” She pulled her own Nine Millimeter. “This was my Dads… A good gun, but I liked the Three Eighty I had… A Three Eighty won’t really knock somebody down, not like you see in the movies. But, a nine millimeter won’t always do that either. It’ll just make a bigger hole. If you want to knock somebody down you need this.” She held up the bigger forty five caliber pistol. She held the mostly black pistol easily in one hand. “This will knock somebody down and kill them… And, on the off chance that your aim was bad and you didn’t immediately kill them, believe me… They are not going to feel like getting back up.” She grinned. “It’s still not like the movies… You know, where you see them flying backwards through the air. But, it will knock them down and keep them there.”
“Jesus, Girl… I’m like in awe,” Lana said.
“Katie,” Katie said, “and thank you.”
“So how do you know all that…? Like for real? How do you know all that shit?”
“My dad was a cop… Not in New York, before we moved there. He had a thing for guns. I just caught it. When he knew I was going to be like him when it came to guns, he sent me for training… Safety stuff mostly, but I liked it so much I started buying my own weapons as well. I took the test… Eventually I would’ve had my foot in the door in New York. That’s a good department. I would’ve been in already if not for the economy. “
“The thing is I love to shoot. I’m good also,” she sighed.
“So… What will it be?” She let the smile return to her face, reached over and began to jimmy another of the locks on the sliding glass doors.
They spent the good part of two hours in the store. Camping gear; rifles, pistols and ammunition. Conner began to feel like they were equipping there own private army before they were done. Even so by the time they left everyone was carrying at least one pistol, and several rifles and boxes of ammunition had found their way into the back of the pickup truck. Katie, Conner noticed, had added a matte black forty five caliber pistol to the Nine Millimeter. She wore them in webbed holsters on a wide leather belt.
“I thought you preferred a Three Eighty,” Conner said half jokingly as he replaced the Nine Millimeter he had decided on back into the side holster he had chosen.
“I do,” she said. “For shooting… But like I said, a Three Eighty can’t knock somebody down.” Her eyes met his.
“Yeah… There is that,” Conner agreed quietly.
They spent a short amount of time looking through a small convenience store in the same parking lot. There was very little left. Most likely cleaned out, James voiced, by the same folks who had tried to take the guns. This was evidenced by smears of maroon on the counter tops. Even so they managed to find boxes of stuff in the storage area. They finished filling the backs of the trucks with basic First Aid stuff and several boxes full of Candy bars and junk food too.
The sun had been standing overhead for what seemed like hours. James Spoke.
“Hotter,” He said. “You can feel the heat. And,” He motioned with his hands, “the snow is melting faster too.”
“Got a theory on that,” Conner asked?
James shook his head.
“Maybe the whole process takes time,” Katie said.
“Maybe,” Jake agreed. “Maybe it’s not so easy to start something spinning in the other direction… And we don’t know if it really stopped or not. The sun’s coming up in the north, or it was, but that seems to be changing also. I don’t think it stopped all the way. I think it’s just got a different spin now. And maybe a different path.”
James nodded as did Conner. “I guess we’ll leave it for the scientists… Long as we don’t fall off the Earth.” He chuckled a little.
“Call it a day,” Conner asked?
“Yeah,” Jake agreed. “We still have to unload all of this.” There were a few halfhearted complaints, but everyone piled into the trucks and they made their way slowly back towards the heart of the city and the old factory that lay behind Old Town.
Jana March 14th
We are six people who have managed to stay alive through whatever it is that has happened to our planet. My husband James and I were fortunate enough to be protected by our spirits and brought through all of this.
I am Jana Adams; my husband is full blooded Blackfoot and a very proud man. A very good man as well. And not just to me. He treats all people well.
My mother was Cherokee and my father was French. I don’t mean French transplanted to this country. My mother met him in France. We are looking forward to whatever the Great spirits purpose is in this.
We have many young people with us. Conner Davis. He’s mixed race. Like many of us. He probably doesn’t realize it but he is in fact our leader. He’s in his early twenties. I guess the mixed race stuff doesn’t matter anymore, but I lived with it for so long that it’s hard for me to let it go.
James has suffered worse with those prejudices. Many other people besides me. Maybe the world is at that place where all of that stuff can be let go now? I hope so.
Katie Lee is a beautiful young woman. Her father is African American, her mother Asian. She has her father’s dark skin blended with her mothers features. Striking. I enjoy her company. She reminds me of my daughter. I don’t know how she fared in all of this. I suppose we’re all wondering similar things.
Jake Light. And, Lana, Marcia Lana Santos fill out our party. We are planning to leave here in a few months and head south, or west. The direction isn’t decided only the realization that we need to go. The thinking is that we should head south. Somewhere warmer. After all, there is no electricity here. And we are living in an old factory right down by the river. It’s not a bad , and we’re lucky to have it. Almost the entire city has been destroyed. Most buildings are unsafe to live in. This one was built up against the cliffs. It’s solid.
When we leave, we’ll leave all of that behind us. This is who we are. We will most likely continue to the south. We are currently looking for a Short Wave radio set to try to get in touch with others around the world. You, whoever you may be, may be able to reach us that way where ever we have gone to now.
James believes in the people. That the people will once again live on the earth the way they used to. James believes it, and so I believe it. I’ll continue to keep this book up while we’re here and include any useful information we can pass on to you before we go…
Katie March 14th
I guess I should start this the right way. I hadn’t thought about it when it was just me to think about. But it’s more than me. Or even those of us that are here now. It’s the ones who might come. Or will come after. So even if you figured out almost all of what I’m about to write I’ll write it anyway.
I read back over what I wrote and it doesn’t even seem like me. Like I wrote it. Like those things happened to me
My name is Katie Lee. I was living here when all of this happened. I’m not from here. I actually did live here for a while last year, but that’s a long story. The point is I’m not really from here like the others are.
My man is Conner Davis and we are with two other couples; Jana and James Adams, and Jake Light And Lana Santos. I came here with them; Conner was on his own then. I was too, even though I had people around me. I guess if you’ve read all of this diary you know what I’m talking about. I had Jana as my friend. This diary and my father’s gun. I Thank God for what I had, especially Jana.
Jana and James are older. They are really good people. Jake and Lana are younger. Well, Lana is. Lana’s even younger than I am, but Jake is quite a lot older. I don’t think anyone cares about that anymore though. At least nobody here does.
We are going to leave here sometime in the next few months and try to make it down to the Gulf coast. We don’t know for sure how that will go. I’ll keep this updated though until then. We’re going to leave these behind us. Hopefully they will be useful to someone. But I think I’ll keep my little Notebook. It means something to me.
Things we know: You can get trucks and cars to start as long as they are older ones that don’t have electronic brain boxes, as James put it. That is how we intend to go before winter or just after winter really lets go. Otherwise we’d really have to wait for summer to settle in before we could chance travel.
There are several sporting goods stores in the area. We’re all carrying guns now. It seems smart to do. Maybe I should say it would be stupid not to. We think it only makes good sense.
This building we are in seems stable, but many of the other structures in the city aren’t safe to live in. We don’t know if it’s even all over with yet. Whether there is more to come. We hope not.
We’re going to try to reach others with Ham Radios. We’re also trying to find a battery powered television set just to see if anything’s on the air. We’re hopeful. We’re also going to pick up some hand held F.M. radios. Walkie Talkies James calls them. That way we can speak to each other when we’re separated.
The sun is rising in the north. Really the North West. The days were long, then short, now going back towards long again. We don’t know what that might mean. Where it will end or even where we will be when it does end. And maybe end is the wrong word to use. We don’t know what began or ended; might begin or end.
I re-read that, I guess it seems melodramatic, at least to me, but it’s honest.
I’ll write more as we go along.
Early morning darkness held the road that fronted the old factory. The moonlight, sparse, reflected off the rapids of the river.
A shadow moved by one of the pickup trucks. Another moved by the Suburban. The sound of sand gritting beneath the sole of a shoe came clearly in the shadowy darkness. The door of the pickup squealed loudly as it was carefully opened. The shadow paused looking towards the Suburban. The shadow there appeared to be fighting with the door to no avail. The shadow next to the pickup gestured quickly with both hands and the shadow next to the Suburban gave up on the door, crossed to the pickup and quickly climbed inside. Once they were both inside silence returned to the small patch of asphalt that fronted the entrance to the building. A few seconds later the pickup roared to life. The headlights snapped on, the wheels turned hard left and the driver launched the truck down what was left of the shattered roadway.
Voices were raised in alarm from inside the building, and within just a few moments everyone inside was outside. Lana, gun in hand, unloaded a full clip at the fleeing pickup truck. Both Jake and Conner snapped off a single shot, more in startled response to Lana’s’ shots than with any real hope of hitting the retreating pickup truck.
“Jesus,” Lana said breathlessly. “They stole our truck!” She turned and looked at Conner with wide, frightened eyes. “They stole our Goddamn truck,” She repeated. “How could they steal our truck?”
Jake headed for the suburban, pulled the keys from his pocket, prepared to unlock the door.
“Jake,” Conner called. “Where are you going, Man?”
That’s our Goddamn truck. I’m going to get it.” His eyes were wild. The truck keys in one hand, a pistol in the other. No shirt. Sock-less shoes, laces trailing.
“It’s an old truck, Man,” Conner said.
“It’s my old truck,” Jake said defensively. “And if I catch that fucker…”
“Fuckers,” Lana said.
“Huh,” Jake asked?
“Fuckers as in I saw two heads. Two of them. Not one,” Lana said. Her voice held a breathless, excited quality to it that Conner didn’t like. She was dressed in jeans and a thin T-shirt. She shivered slightly, whether from the cold or the excitement Conner couldn’t tell.
“Either way. One, two, how would we catch them? … And then what? Are we going to shoot somebody for stealing an old truck? Is that what things have come to,” Conner asked?
“Look, don’t get moral on me,” Jake said. He leveled his eyes at Conner. “I do things my way. You take from me you pay for it.”
Conner just stared back at him.
“You’re soft,” Jake said. But his fists, still clenched, dropped from the truck door and he walked away from the Suburban and back into the building.
Lana threw Conner a nasty look, finally managed to fish a replacement clip from her overly tight front pocket. Ejected the empty one into her hand and slid the new one into the pistol with a solid click. “Soft,” She echoed as the clip clicked home. She turned and walked back inside the factory. In the distance the muffler of the truck began to fade. It was hard to tell where it had gone. Which direction.
James stepped up beside Conner where he stood with Katie and Jana. “I’m not going to kill anybody over an old truck,” he said.
“Me either” the other three said in near unison.
“Guess we better start making sure everything’s locked up tight,” Conner said.
“We’re going to have to start keeping a watch,” Jana said.
“We will,” Katie agreed. “What if the next thing they want is a woman?”
“That’s not funny,” Conner said.
She leveled her dark eyes on his. Silvery moonlight reflecting from them. “I wasn’t trying to be funny. Now that they know we’re around…” she shrugged. “Lana may have overreacted, but… Maybe not…Who the Hell would pull a stunt like that anyway? Everything’s just lying around… Want a truck? Go get one… No… It’s a mind set. Someone who takes like that doesn’t take because it’s easy. They take because they like it. Because they can…” She lowered her voice, “Truck… Woman…. Might all be the same to them.”
No one answered.
Jake and Lana sat talking in low tones as the others walked back into the building. They had rebuilt the fire and the warmth and light spread out, glowing on the brick walls. “Jake,” Conner started.
“Listen,” Jake said. “I shouldn’t have said that… I didn’t mean to say that. And, no, it would be stupid to go chasing after a goddamn truck in the middle of the night. And, no, I don’t want to kill someone over stealing a piece of shit truck,” Jake said. “But that kind of shit can’t happen… I mean, what’s next?”
“Yeah,” Conner agreed. “Yeah. I guess what’s next is locked up trucks. No keys left in them. And…” He looked over at Katie. “I guess a guard at night… Katie said… She thinks someone who would come to take a truck might come to take a woman also.”
The silence held only for a second.
“Fuckin’ A,” Lana spat.
She looks positively rabid, Katie thought. “What I mean,” Katie said, “A truck… Maybe one of us… Who steals a truck when everything’s just laying around free to anyone who wants to pick it up?”
Jake nodded his head.
“Well as soon as it’s light I say we follow the tracks. If we’re careful it should be no problem at all,” Conner said.
“Goddamn right,” Lana said.
“Should be armed… I’m sure they will be,” Katie said.
“Not you… You’re not going are you,” Conner asked?
“I’m the best shot we have,” Katie said. “It’s that simple. If we don’t go after them,” she shrugged and then shook her head. “No,” she said. “The more I think about it, they’ll probably come back. And they’ll probably come back armed as well. Hell, maybe they were this time.” She looked at Lana.
“Lana saw two in the truck, but how many more were there? Or back where ever they went to,” she finished seriously.
“So. The idea is to take it to them before they bring it to us,” James asked?
“Got a better idea,” Jake challenged?
“No… No… But I’m no killer. It’s still just a damn truck…”
“Yeah, tonight it was a truck, tomorrow it might be me… Or Katie… Or Jana,” Lana said.
James stayed silent, thoughtful. He sighed. “What a damn mess,” he said at last.
“It’s that,” Jake agreed.
“I got to agree, James,” Conner said. “It’s not the same world. What if they do come back? Do we decide then to do something? It might be too late.”
“Honey. I think it’s best to go get them,” Jana said quietly, her eyes on James’s own. Those eyes looked frightened, Conner thought. He supposed a little of that fright was resting in every ones eyes right now.
“I don’t like to be bullied or pressured into anything,” James said.
“Hey,” Conner said. “It’s no pressure, Man. It’s real. It really just happened.”
James nodded his head yes but a frown remained stamped onto his mouth. Deep lines scared his forehead. His hands twisted restlessly in his lap. He suddenly bought his hands together firmly. “Okay,” he agreed. “Okay. I see the point. I’ve done a lot of hunting. I’m a good shot with a rifle… … I’ll go.”