Chapter 8 - Entry 2
May 7th cont.
It was nearly noon by the time I woke up, stiff and sore with a wretched taste in my mouth. Coffee had been brewed, its scent pulling a growl from my rumbling stomach. Molly and Frank weren’t in sight, which worried me as I struggled to get out of the sweat-soaked bed. Still nude from the night before, I paused near a light in the kitchen to assess the damage.
My wounds had healed but the scars remained, crisscrossing my body in a roadmap of violence. A thick, raised line encircled most of my right breast where the machete had nearly severed it. Round bitemarks were everywhere. Bruises covered much of my face and arms, livid yellows and blues that hadn’t faded for some reason. Every joint felt as though horrible arthritis was flaring, sending pain shooting down each limb with every move.
I cracked my neck, vertebrate popping loudly like firecrackers, and sighed heavily as I padded into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Cold powdered eggs with ham cubes and spray-on CheeseWiz were in a bowl, waiting inside the microwave for me to heat and eat. My patience didn’t last so I snarfed from the cold bowl using fingertips whose nails were still crusted with blood.
The rumbling sound of my van’s hefty diesel slowly grew louder while I finished breakfast. Doors opened and closed outside by the time I dressed in jeans and a teeshirt, arming myself with the last HK. The sun’s red glow filled the workshop as I leaned against the archway separating it from the common room. Molly was the first to step inside, followed by a blindfolded Silas with Frank bringing up the rear.
I felt alien for some reason as my gaze met Molly’s. More inhuman than ever. A freak of nature that had wanted nothing more than to tear into her tender flesh and wallow in steaming blood. Were it not for Frank, last night would’ve been a bloodbath.
Molly studied my face for a moment before limping forward. Apparently she was having none of it. “Hey bitch. Put on a smile. We’ve got company.”
Her arms raised and wrapped around my neck, pulling hard until I leaned down enough for our lips to meet. The kiss she laid on me was no less tender or passionate than our first. I could feel myself about to break down when cool air brushed my damp lips as the kiss ended. Her eyes locked onto mine and, for some reason, she tiled her chin away, exposing her neck to me.
Body shaking, I dipped my head down further and placed soft kisses along the length of her pale skin, tracing a line from collarbone to jawline. “Thank you,” I whispered into her ear.
She punched me in the shoulder and pulled away with a grin. “Oh shut up with that.” To our guest, who had remained near the door in silence, she called over one shoulder, “You can take off the blindfold. Coffee’s hot unless Jaeger drank it all. Let’s get comfy and have a chat.”
While Silas wandered around the common room, Molly filled me in on the morning’s activities.
“I got up early while you were sleeping and headed over to the Fort. Figured they’d want to hear all about your encounter.”
“Molly gave us the short version this morning. Mind giving me a full debrief?” Silas asked from across the table once he’d taken a seat.
I nodded and recounted the scene, both before and after firing the first shot. Silas remained silent, listening intently, until I finished.
“How many do you think are left?” He asked, leaning forward to rest both forearms on the table.
“Hard to tell. The zombies ignored them but they came runnin after me once I started making noise so everything got pretty chaotic. Assuming every single one of them were in the campground when I attacked, I’d guess there’s a dozen or so adults left, including the leader.”
“You think they got that way from eating zombies?”
I nodded to Silas and sighed. “Yeah. I do. Too many with the same skin and eyes in one place for them to have gathered together. I mean, I’ve seen three others like me since everything happened and one of them came from Waterbury. No idea what percentage of the population reacted this way to whatever shit’s in the ash but the odds are pretty slim that many could get together that fast in so short a time. Especially outside of a big city.”
“I haven’t seen anyone else like that, except for the small group we spotted a few days ago. Probably scavengers from the camp.” Silas offered, staring into his coffee with a frown.
“We need to go back and clear those fuckers out. They’ve attacked us twice and who knows if they’re infectious or something. Right?” That from Molly as she took a seat beside me.
“Yeah. I’ll pass along what you’ve told me to the others back at the Fort. Spread the word around so the other survivor groups know what’s going on.”
I nodded to Silas again but Molly wasn’t content with his answer, chiming in before I could get a word in edgewise. “You need to do more than just spread the news Silas. You’re in charge of the biggest group around here. Get a posse together and let’s hunt the asshats down.”
“It’s not that simple Molly. They haven’t attacked the Fort so getting people to agree its necessary won’t be easy. Plus they’re still humans. Granted, they’re some seriously messed up humans, but these aren’t mindless zombies we’re talking about. Hell, there are people at the Fort that don’t even want us shooting the dead.” He shook his head and sighed. “I’m the leader but I can’t force people to do something they object strongly to. Its more akin to a democracy than a dictatorship.”
“Fuck that. Me, Jaeger and Dad will wipe em out then if you guys won’t do it.”
I laid a hand on her lap beneath the table and squeezed one thigh. There was a glare in my direction that softened almost immediately when her gaze settled on my bruised face.
Silas visited with us for awhile, wandering around the Home and offering his opinion on how to make it more comfortable. The three of us paused inside the tower where I told him my plan to dig a well and rig up a water tower.
“You know, it might make more sense to put a few smaller watertanks on the roof of the other section since that’s where you’re wanting running water. Straight shot down through the bathrooms on both upper floors and into the kitchen. Save you some work in the long run and you wouldn’t have to worry about water pressure on the top floor.”
I shrugged and lit a cigarette. “I’d wanted the well inside where it could be protected.”
“Just dig a deep one and cover it up good. No one would even know its there. How were you going to dig? Got a well auger?”
“Not yet. You got one laying around?”
Silas grinned and nodded. “Sure do. You’re welcome to borrow it. Ever dug a well?”
“I’ll get the stuff together you’ll need. Bit more to it than just digging a hole and dropping in a pump. Which reminds me. If its not too deep before you hit water, might as well rig up an old fashioned hand pump. Could probably run it right through a kitchen window. That way you can still get water in case you lose electric.”
“We need security cameras and shit,” Molly grumbled beside me.
“Yeah. Good force multipliers to have. I’ve got them set up all around the Fort and a few places further down the street. None left from the electronics store we hit but there’s bound to be more at the Ace Security retailer just outside of town. I’ll give you directions when you come to pick up the well digger. Need anything else?”
Molly and I couldn’t think of anything so a blindfolded Silas was driven home.
I tossed on boots, cleaned the new HK, loaded magazines and got myself together while Molly and Frank were gone. More food went down my gullet before I wrote a note and headed out the door.
Retracing my steps back to the camp wasn’t difficult and I made good time, reaching the clearing’s edge where the fight occurred in half an hour. The bodies were still there, forming a rough circle where I’d stood in their midst. Blood had pooled in that little clearing, squishing wet as I cautiously searched pockets and looked for my HK’s discarded magazines. A machete, a few knives and fifteen minutes later, I’d only found one of the three mags.
The campsite was deserted but I watched for a full hour before circling around the entire space twice. They’d taken everything of value, including every last bit of meat from the spitted zombie in the pavilion’s midst. All the cabins were empty with little more than dirt floors and gnawed bones inside. Some were human. Some were rats, cats and other small animals.
No noticeable tracks leading away from the camp hinted at a mass exodus on foot, leading me to believe they’d followed the road since the lone SUV I’d seen couldn’t carry many. I kept to the woods and moved cautiously, following the dirt road as it meandered north.
The trail ended about a mile later where the campground’s entrance intersected a blacktop road that ran east to west. Zombies were thick in the area, shuffling amid the numerous residential subdivisions and low-end strip malls that flanked the road in both directions. Grumbling, I headed back to the Home and met a very pissed-off Molly waiting outside the door.
“You should’ve waited so I could’ve gone with you.” She snapped.
“Not with that bum leg. Look, I just wanted to check things out and do a little recon. I told you in the note that I doubted they’d still be there. Relax. I’m pretty hard to kill.”
“That’s not the point. Next time just let me in on what you’re planning to do. Got it?”
I laughed then. Simply couldn’t help it. She looked too cute, standing there with both tattooed arms crossed beneath her breasts, expression stern, while tapping one foot impatiently. Naturally, laughing was not the response Molly was looking for. Rest assured though, my Molly knew how to throw a solid punch.