Chapter 3 - Entry 1
April 19th cont.
Mary and Nathan were outside the semi when I finished putting down the new zombies. Neither spoke as I lit a cigarette and climbed into the camper. Food disappeared down my throat for a solid half hour until the pain finally ended and the post-adrenalin rush faded completely. A long, hot shower followed. Dressed and refreshed, I hopped down and inspected the damage. Our semi wouldn’t be going anywhere without serious work considering several of its large tires were flat and parts of the engine wrecked.
The others had been busy while I recovered, having gathered all the weapons and ammunition from the dead and laid them out neatly on the road; an eclectic assortment of hunting rifles and a few handguns but nothing better than we already had. Mary and Nathan were put to work unloading the camper while I went off in search of a new vehicle.
After backtracking a bit I found a nice Ford F250 4x4 pickup truck that looked in decent shape. It had a full sized crew cab and a chrome brush guard mounted to the front. The diesel engine fired up easily enough and soon we were loading our stuff in the back. The camper’s bathroom would be sorely missed but I just wanted to drop Nathan off and find the Aryans. Fortunately the drive into Noank wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been and only took us an hour.
“Are you fucking kidding me? Green Acres? That’s what they named the place?”
My eyes rolled, staring at the sign while Nathan looked sheepish and Mary laughed.
I drove slowly, not really looking forward to the greeting we might receive. Nathan surprised me by asking me to stop.
“Why don’t I take one of the rifles and walk from here?”
I considered it and nodded. “Let’s get you a backpack with food and water. We’ll wait at the end of the road for an hour in case you change your mind.”
Nathan and Mary put together a travel pack while I sat up front chain smoking. There were hugs in progress between the two when I saw movement in the rear view mirror.
Four men in the Army’s new digital camo pattern dashed out of a drainage ditch to our left and quickly surrounded the truck. Each had a Kevlar vest, helmet and an M16 pointed our way. One spoke into a radio clipped to his shoulder as I squinted at their uniforms and sighed.
Slowly we raised our hands and waited to see what would happen. At least five minutes passed with no one moving. Then we heard the roar of engines coming from Green Acres.
Two Humvees, one with a big fifty cal machine gun mounted on back, came tearing down the road. More men spilled out of them, though only two wore Guard uniforms and carried M16s. The other three had on police uniforms with shotguns at the ready. One approached the driver’s side and opened the door while the rest moved closer to cover us.
I smiled. “Good afternoon officer. Is there a problem? I’m pretty sure I wasn’t speeding.”
He was a tall black man in his fifties with just a hint of beer gut hanging off his six foot five inch frame. My comment earned a chuckle, amazingly white teeth flashing brightly despite the weather's gloom.
The ghost of a smile remained when he spoke, tone carrying that polite authority long-serving police officers develop. “Please step out of the vehicle. Slowly. All of you keep your hands up. Lets do this nice and easy.”
I nodded and joined the others outside, moving with exaggerated slowness and a pleasant grin on my newly-scarred face. Guns directed us towards the truck’s hood where the police officers thoroughly frisked us for weapons while the Army guys searched the truck. They came back with our weapons and laid them out on the road.
“That’s a lot of firearms,” The black man offered.
I smiled and shrugged. “There’s a lot of zombies running around.”
“Fair enough,” the tall black man offered, lowering his shotgun as he stepped in front of us. “I’m Sheriff Brown. You can lower your arms but stay where you are. What brings you here?”
Mary and I stayed quiet while Nathan gave the Sheriff a brief explanation of his reasoning behind heading to Green Acres. That fucking song kept repeating in my head the whole time.
‘Green Acres is the place to be…’
A few questions passed back and forth but he seemed to believe Nathan's story.
“Alright. You’ll ride back in the Hummers while one of my deputies drives your truck. I apologize for all the gun pointing but I’m sure you’ll agree it’s a necessary precaution.”
I didn’t agree, but didn’t want to get on this man’s bad side either. Mary and I rode in one of the Humvees while Nathan rode in the other. We passed into Green Acres a few minutes later.
Green Acres was a roughly square clearing surrounded on three sides by a screen of trees with a large spring-fed pond at its rear. A very tall chain link fence separated the woods from the place’s rolling green lawns except where it met the pond and the decorative brick wall at the entrance with its cast iron gate. A pair of Guardsmen waited at the gate as our little caravan drove past, pulling it shut in our wake.
The assisted living home’s main building was a U-shaped three story apartment complex with white plaster and darkly stained exposed wood beams. It looked like a postcard from some Bavarian village. Solar panels covered nearly every square inch of its slightly pitched roof. I doubted they’d provide any electricity considering the lack of sunlight. A stone water fountain bubbled merrily in the cobblestone courtyard formed by the building’s wings.
The hummers and our truck pulled into the front parking lot alongside another Humvee, a dozen cars, three police cruisers and a black stretch limo. Two National Guardsmen flanked the double glass doors leading inside, bringing the total to ten by my count.
People were coming out of the building by the time we stepped out of the hummers. Two had shopping carts and were heading towards our truck. A woman wearing pinstriped suit pants and a windbreaker with FEMA stenciled across the back approached, clipboard in hand. I watched as our truck was raided; food and clothes being tossed into the carts.
“Why are you taking our stuff?” I asked.
It was the woman who replied. “The President has declared a national state of emergency and martial law is in effect. FEMA is authorized to redistribute privately owned resources to ensure the safety and well being of the general populace. May I have your names, dates of birth and social security numbers please?” She sounded annoyed at having to explain her actions.
“I think I’d like to just leave.”
“I’m afraid that won’t be possible until the situation changes and the state of martial law is rescinded.”
“So we’re being held against our will while you steal our shit?” I was getting pissed and the police noticed. Guns lifted to point in my direction.
“If you have any receipts for the goods you’ve purchased, FEMA will reimburse you once the crisis gripping our nation has passed.” She smiled pleasantly, likely knowing most of the stuff had been scavenged. I’m sure she considered it looting. “Now if you’ll answer my questions we can get you processed.”
Nathan offered his answers easily enough but I remained silent, crossing my arms under my breasts and staring daggers at the FEMA woman. Mary shuffled from one foot to another but caved in eventually. The woman stood tapping her pen against the clipboard, waiting for me to comply.
I smelled sweat and beer as one of the cops stepped up behind me. “You going to be a trouble maker, miss? These aren’t good times to be a trouble maker.”
Oh tough guy. Making threats while he had us surrounded.
I rolled my eyes and smirked. “I’m being forced to stay here against my will while you government goons do what you always do. Steal from citizens. And I’m supposed to just smile, lie on my back and spread my legs while you rape me? Go fuck yourself.”
They had me in hand cuffs a moment later.
We were led inside the main building and into an empty apartment on the ground floor. It reeked of mothballs, stale urine and scented candles. The police stood watch over us inside while a pair of soldiers waited outside the door.
The sheriff lit up a cigarette and chuckled as the door closed. “Don’t make it harder than it already is, Miss Jane Doe. These people don’t mess around.”
“How can you let this happen? I can deal with them stealing all our food but then they force us to stay here? What the fuck Sheriff?”
The deputies didn’t like me talking to their boss like that and one started moving forward with a can of pepper spray. The Sheriff stopped him with a dismissive wave.
“I don’t have much choice. FEMA’s in charge now and those National Guardsmen follow their orders.”
He leaned back in a chair and seemed ready to say more when the FEMA bitch stepped inside with a soldier at her back. We were split up then, Mary being led away with a sullen expression while Nathan went peacefully. I waited with the Sheriff, sharing his pack of smokes for an hour before FEMA bitch returned.
“Alright Miss Doe. Are you ready to cooperate?”
“Does it really matter what I say my name is? You have no way of verifying since I doubt you have internet access or records stashed in a retirement community.”
She gave me a hard look and sighed, writing something down on that clipboard of hers. I wanted to shove it up her ass.
“Very well Miss Doe. Miss Grimes informed us that she wishes to be in your work detail. It is my understanding you served in the Navy as a Seabee?”
I frowned and nodded, not liking that they’d gotten Mary to talk about my past.
“You were an electrician, yes?”
Again I nodded.
“Excellent. You will be assigned to maintain and operate the electrical and power generation systems. Now if you’ll provide me with your real name, date of birth and social security number, I’ll ensure Miss Grimes is placed with your team rather than the infected corpse disposal detail.” She paused and gave me a smug look. “And don’t lie. I’ll verify the information with Miss Grimes and Mister Thompson.”
And thus, was I fucked.
They let me out of the handcuffs after that, though I was closely watched by the police and guardsmen. Mary and I were assigned a room on the third floor and given a pair of baggy blue jumpsuits with FEMA in reflective lettering across the back. Just another prison uniform in a different color.
“Please remain inside your room. For your own safety.” The Guardsman instructed before closing the door. It was locked from the outside.
“Fan-fucking-tastic.” I sighed.
Mary chewed her lower lip nervously and wouldn’t meet my gaze as I wandered around the room.
There were no bars on the windows, likely because they figured no one would try to escape from the third floor. I considered it, wondering if the broken bones would heal fast enough for me to get away. Of course Mary wouldn’t be able to make it and despite being pissed that she’d talked, I didn’t want to leave her behind. Dinner was brought to us in the evening and we went to bed early.