The Zombie Plagues episode six
The Zombie Plagues Book One
Created by Dell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Geo Dell and independAntwriters Publishing
The Zombie Plagues Book One
Additional Copyrights 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017 Wendell Sweet & his assignee Andrea Scroggs All rights reserved
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Early morning darkness held the road that fronted the cave. The moonlight, sparse, reflected off the rapids of the Black 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 cave. 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 cave, and within just a few moments everyone inside was outside. Lydia, gun in hand, unloaded a full clip at the fleeing pickup truck. Both Tom and Mike snapped off a single shot, more in startled response to Lydia’s’ shots than with any real hope of hitting the retreating pickup truck.
“Jesus,” Lydia said breathlessly. “They stole our truck!” She turned and looked at Mike with wide, frightened eyes. “They stole our Goddamn truck,” She repeated. “How could they steal our truck?”
Tom headed for the suburban and pulled the keys from his pocket, preparing to unlock the door.
“Tom,” Mike 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,” Mike said.
“It’s my old truck,” Tom said defensively. “And if I catch that fucker…”
“Fuckers,” Lydia said.
“Huh?” Tom asked.
“Fuckers, as in I saw two heads. Two of them. Not one,” Lydia said. Her voice held a breathless, excited quality to it that Mike didn’t like. She was dressed in jeans and a thin T-shirt. She shivered slightly, whether from the cold or the excitement, Mike 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?” Mike asked.
“Look, don’t get moral on me,” Tom said. He leveled his eyes at Mike. “I do things my way. You take from me, you pay for it.”
Mike just stared back at him.
“You’re soft,” Tom said. But his fists, still clenched, dropped from the truck door and he walked away from the Suburban and back into the cave.
Lydia threw Mike 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 went back inside the cave. In the distance, the muffler of the truck began to fade. It was hard to tell which direction it had gone.
Bob stepped up beside Mike where he stood with Candace and Jan. “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,” Mike said.
“We’re going to have to start keeping a watch,” Jan said.
“We will,” Candace agreed. “What if the next thing they want is a woman?”
“That’s not funny,” Mike 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. “Lydia 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.
Tom and Lydia sat talking in low tones as the others walked back into the cave. They had rebuilt the fire, and the warmth and light spread out, glowing on the stone walls. “Tom,” Mike started.
“Listen,” Tom 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,” Tom said. “But that kind of shit can’t happen. I mean, what’s next?”
“Yeah,” Mike agreed. “Yeah. I guess what’s next is locked up trucks. No keys left in them. And…” He looked over at Candace. “I guess a guard at night. Candace said… She thinks someone who would come to take a truck might come to take a woman too.”
The silence held only for a second.
“Fuckin’ A,” Lydia spat.
She looks positively rabid, Candace thought. “What I mean,” Candace said, “A truck… Maybe one of us… Who steals a truck when everything’s just lying around free for anyone who wants to pick it up?”
Tom 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,” Mike said.
“Goddamn right,” Lydia said.
“Should be armed. I’m sure they will be,” Candace said.
“Not you. You’re not going are you?” Mike asked.
“I’m the best shot we have,” Candace 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 Lydia.
“Lydia 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?” Bob asked.
“Got a better idea?” Tom 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 Candace… Or Jan,” Lydia said.
Bob stayed silent, thoughtful. He sighed. “What a damn mess,” he said at last.
“It’s that,” Tom agreed.
“I got to agree, Bob,” Mike 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,” Janet said quietly, her eyes on Bob’s own. Those eyes looked frightened, Mike thought. He supposed a little of that fright was resting in everyone’s eyes right now.
“I don’t like to be bullied or pressured into anything,” Bob said.
“Hey,” Mike said. “It’s no pressure, Man. It’s real. It really just happened.”
Bob nodded his head yes, but a frown remained stamped onto his mouth. Deep lines scarred his forehead. His hands twisted restlessly in his lap. He suddenly brought 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’d like to go too.”
When the sun began to peek over the top of the ridge on the opposite shore of the Black river, everyone filed out to the two remaining trucks. It had been decided that Mike and Jan would stay behind while the others went in search of the stolen truck. They switched on and tested two sets of F.M. radios.
“The range is normally only about two miles or so, but it’s not like there’s anything to interfere with them anymore,” Tom said. “We’ll take three with us, and you keep the other here to monitor us, or if they come back here,” Tom finished.
“Do you think that’s a possibility?” Janet Dove asked.
“I doubt it, Dear,” Bob told her with a reassuring smile. “It’s just to be safe.”
Mike walked over to Candace. Her eyes met his. He kissed her softly, and her arms slipped around him.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered, “I’ll be careful. And I’ll make sure they’re careful.” She kissed him and pulled back.
Mike stared at the face of the two way radio for a long second and then watched her get into the Suburban. Bob got into the front seat with her. Her eyes met his once more, and she smiled reassuringly, then started the Suburban and fell in behind Tom as he drove the big State truck out across the pavement.
Mike and Janet stood quietly as the two trucks drove away. Neither of them wanted to go back inside the cave. The sun was up and warming the old asphalt of the road where it passed in front of the cave, and what little snow remained was already beginning to melt.
“Left here,” The radio squawked. It sounded like Lydia.
“Behind you,” came an answer that sounded like Bob.
Mike shifted the 30-30 Deer rifle he held in one hand and thumbed off the strap that held his Nine Millimeter in his web holster. Janet Dove grimaced and then thumbed the safety off the shotgun she was holding. A short clip protruded from the base of the shotgun, just forward of the trigger. She had two more clips in a small pouch on her side, as well as a fully loaded Three Eighty in a tooled leather side holster she wore.
What must we look like, Mike thought. Aloud he said, “They’ll be fine.”
“Really?” Janet Dove asked. “I truly hope so. I truly do.”
The next twenty minutes went by slowly. Occasional squawks of directions came from the radio, and in the distance the sound of both trucks could still be heard. The silence broke all at once.
The radio squealed in Mike’s hand. One word jumped clearly from the static… “Jesus!”… Mike couldn’t tell from whom. A crashing sound accompanied it, and in the far distance gunfire erupted in the still, previously quiet morning air.
The squeal from the radio abruptly cut off and it fell back to low static. In the distance the sound of gunfire continued for what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably no more than thirty or forty seconds in reality. Mike keyed the radio, “Candace,” he screamed. “Candace?”
Gunfire broke out again in the distance. The fast… POP, POP, POP of semi automatic gunfire, but the sharp crack of a heavy rifle too. No answer came back over the radio. Janet Dove made a small strangled sound in the back of her throat and a low sob slipped from her mouth. “No, God, no,” she whispered.
“It’s alright, Jan,” Mike told her. He didn’t believe it himself, but it was what you said. It was how you lied to yourself when you were pretty sure that things were far from fine. Life didn’t work that way in his experience. The gunfire had stopped, but the radio maintained its teasing static as his mind continued to assure him that nothing at all was right and nothing ever would be again. Just as he had the thought, the radio in his hand squawked once again.
“You guys okay?” a panicked sounding Bob asked.
“We’re good… We’re good, base. We’re all good. Everything’s okay,” Tom answered.
Beside Mike, Janet broke into a sob. He reached over and pulled her close to him. “It’s okay,” he soothed. “They said they’re all okay,” Mike repeated dumbly, like the words were some magic mantra.
“I need you to come over here,” Bob said over the radio in a tight, controlled voice. Fear quickly spiked in Mike’s heart.
“Yeah… Uh, you need… Uh, yeah… Okay… We’re coming… We’re on the way,” Tom replied.
Mike pressed his button down. “What is it?” he asked. He spoke with more calm than he felt. “What’s going on?”
“Mike… Mike, we got a little problem here… Give me a second and I’ll get right back to you,” Tom told him.
“Standing by.” Mike forced himself to say. Now Janet was hugging him and the fear gripped his heart hard, refusing to let go.
“I’ll kill you. I will,” The kid said. He held his gun sideways like some banger kid from a bad Hollywood movie. Blood trickled slowly from one nostril, as well as from several deep cuts up the left side of his face. His eyes were focused and hard.
“No,” Candace said quietly. Her own forty five was held in both hands aimed at the kid’s chest. He looks like he’s only about thirteen… Fourteen, she corrected.
The kids lip curled at her. “You think I won’t do it, Bitch? I will… I will, Bitch… I’ll do it.”
“No,” Candace repeated quietly. “I drop it and you shoot anyway. No way, Kid. No way.” She watched as Bob shifted to his right, drawing farther away from Candace so the kid couldn’t keep both of them in sight.
“Stop fuckin’ movin’! Stop fuckin’ movin’!” the kid suddenly screamed. The gun barrel wavered a little, nervously jittering up and down, the kid’s finger lightly, compulsively caressing the trigger as Candace watched.
Tom and Lydia worked their way up silently behind the kid, past the bodies that lay on the ground, one a young girl.
Behind Tom, Lydia dropped the barrel of her gun and sighted on the kid’s back. Tom stared at her dumbly for a second and then followed suit.
The seconds played out as the blood continued to slowly leak from the kids face. His tongue darted out and tasted it where it ran from his nose. He tried to push it away from his lips where it ran and dripped down onto his chin.
“Last chance, Bitch,” he said. He brought the barrel of his gun down towards her. At the same time Bob took another step sideways. The kid’s eyes darted to Bob. The gun dipped and swiveled towards him. “I told you…” he began.
All four guns spoke at once and the kid seemed to do a quick tap dance before the gun fell from his hand without firing. He tried to suck in a breath but collapsed onto the dirty asphalt instead.
Before anyone could react, the silence was split by a scream from across the river. A young boy stood silhouetted by the rising sun on the opposite side of the river facing them. Something shifted from his side. “I’ll kill you… I’ll kill you… You killed my brother,” the boy screamed in a high falsetto. His arms came up quickly.
“Hit the ground,” Candace yelled as the kid opened fire with the deer rifle he had in his hands.
Everyone hit the dirt except Lydia whose face registered astonishment as she turned slowly to the river to face the kid.
Candace yelled again as she raised herself to both cut and bruised elbows and began to fire back across the river.
The kid managed three shots before Candace hit him. He slowly toppled over and splashed into the river. Lydia stood. Her mouth open wide, staring across the river to where the kid had been.
Candace raised her eyes to where Lydia stood, and they caught on the ragged, gaping hole blown through the back of her t-shirt. She continued to stand. Seeming to still be looking out over the river. Her mouth working.
“Lydia,” Candace whispered.
Lydia slowly turned, her mouth still working but silent. A small neat hole wept blood down the front of her shirt. Her chest hitched and her eyes fluttered.
Tom lunged to his feet, his eyes dazed, and ran to her, catching her as she slumped forward. Her eyes flickered once more as he eased her to the ground.
A small tight smile came to her mouth. “Killed me,” she wheezed. Her eyes closed, and her chest stopped its struggle for breath…
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