Chapter 6 - Entry 6
April 30th cont.
Silas had work crews busy laying down wooden forms for cement churning away in a pair of huge trucks by the time we got back. Others had been assigned guard duty; armed with rifles as they patrolled within sight of the work crews in groups of three. Occasionally one would stop and fire, dropping distant zombies before heading to the body and dragging it off the street. Things seemed well under control.
I pulled the van to a stop and got out with Molly while Frank seemed content to remain inside. Together we called over Silas and spread out a map on the warm hood.
“Ok. We found a place. You can tell Olora that we’ll be out of here by nightfall.”
He frowned at my words and looked down at the map. “You don’t need to bolt out of here that fast Jaeger.” A pause as he noted the thick line of red magic marker surrounding our claimed turf. “You’re living in the woods?”
“Yup. Anything inside the red line is off limits. We’ll get radios set up so you can call if you want to meet but this whole area is ours.”
Molly nodded and stared daggers at Silas, who simply chuckled and shrugged. “Fine with me. Plenty of woodland around here. Not handing out specifics on where you’re setting up?”
I rolled up the map and handed it over to him with a grin. “Nope.”
“What if the others object?”
“They can object all they want so long as they steer clear of what’s ours, right?” Molly replied, crossing both tattooed arms under her breasts.
“Well if that’s the way it’s going to be, I suppose it’s only fair for me to say you need to be invited back here. No showing up for dinner unannounced. That ought to keep everyone happy. Deal?”
“Deal.” I agreed. “Now, we’re gonna need to get some construction equipment and supplies. Should be enough around for both our groups.”
“If not we’ll have to share.” Molly added.
Silas nodded again and for awhile we talked shop; where the local hardware stores and equipment rental places were, what businesses had already been cleaned out, and the location of other survivors.
“There’s a group to the east somewhere that managed to grab some hardware from the Guard shortly after everything fell apart. Call themselves the Dead Cross. Led by a guy named King George.”
More than a few eyerolls followed that little announcement but Silas wasn’t kidding around, fixing a stern look on Molly and I as he continued.
“They’re set up like a militia. No idea how many people are in the group but they rolled through here a few days ago with at least twenty well armed men. Didn’t seem hostile but things could get ugly when resources are spread too thin.”
“And you don’t know where they are? Other than east?” Molly asked.
“No. But if I had to guess, I’d say they’re probably holed up inside the Cross Rehab Center. If the name’s any sort of clue. Either that or,” Silas’s next thought was interrupted by a voice over the radio at his hip.
“Silas, this is Tony. Come in.”
“What’s up Tony?”
“There’s a group of people walking down the road. All armed. Men and women.” Came the reply.
“How many?” Silas asked, turning to look to the west where the road crossed the lake’s northern tip.
“Five. Its weird man. They just walked right by a few zombies but didn’t get attacked. Defiantly ain’t undead though. Talkin and laughing as they walk.”
I arched an eyebrow and watched as Silas did the same before he spoke into the radio. “So you’re saying there’s a group of people who the zombies ignored?”
“That’s what I’m sayin Silas. Weird shit. Hold on.”
A few moments passed before Tony spoke again, voice low and slightly winded. “Ok. They went inside the Mobile station. I’m across the street hiding in some bushes with Jim and Sally. We’ll keep an eye on em.”
“Ok Tony. I’ll get some people together just in case.” He turned to us then and asked, “Up for a little ride?”
“Nah. Not our problem. We’ve got a lot to do before sunset and there’s only five of em. Have fun with that.”
We parted ways after that, leaving Silas to put a posse together while Molly and I gathered our belongings from the Fort. With everyone off on work groups or guard duty, the place felt pretty empty as I packed and headed out the door. No one said goodbye. No farewell party waited by the van.
I drove southeast to the asylum and took Frank with me to get the generator while Molly stood guard on the van’s roof. Knowing undead rats were nearby made us all jumpy. East Moodus still burned; a smoky red halo that glowed across the lake and cast the white-gray ash in shades of crimson. The asylum's quick evacuation had left food and supplies behind. We moved them to the van in a silence broken only by Molly’s rifle as she put down a pair of zombies shuffling nearby.
A used RV dealership only a little out of our way back was the next stop. The only bus on the lot had been top of the line a few years prior and wasn’t in bad shape. It would do as temporary housing. Molly drove and our two vehicle caravan passed by the Fort a few hours before sunset. Not that sunset made much difference in the perpetual near-darkness. I think it was more psychological than any noticeable change in the environment. Still, we’d decided to get the bus into position and be tucked inside before nightfall so that’s what we did.
I sat alone on the RV’s roof close to midnight, smoking a cigarette in the cool darkness. It seemed utterly silent. Desolate. Beneath my rump Frank was sitting in a chair, staring at the walls with his blank expression while Molly slept in the bus’s main bed. No deer snapped twigs. No squirrels scurried about dying branches. No birds sang or disturbed the air with their wings. Nothing moved except my hand as it brought the cigarette to my lips over and over again.
Our new home was a darker patch of blackness beside the bus. Cold stone surrounded by trees that were slowly dying. I leaned over and dragged the palm of my hand against it’s the rough surface, letting its solid mass comfort me.
“Hunter’s home. That’s what I’m going to call you. You and me? We’re going to be around when everyone else is dust.”
I chuckled at myself and shook my head, letting the hand fall away as its twin brought another lungsnack up for a drag. Molly had been right about claiming the woods. So had that crazy Cleo chick. Years would pass and people in the area would talk. Stories would blow out of proportion and in a generation or two, I’d become a boogieman. Or a spirit of vengeance. Keres in her mighty castle surrounded by a dark, haunted forest.
I turned around and put my back against the stone wall, getting comfortable with both the darkness and the idea that I might become a living legend. It brought a smile to my lips as sleep slowly pulled me under. Grinning, I flicked the cigarette butt out into the darkness and followed it with a whisper.
“Fuck yeah. Just like Batman. With tits.”