Aberration (Eulogy Book II)

Hello Readers,

This is the start of the second book in my Eulogy series. I plan to do only three but it may end up being only two. We will see how far my characters are willing to go. I had always intended three but to be honest it is more up to Alex than me. If you read Eulogy then you know Alex has been on a journey of pain, love, loss, and is battling to keep his sanity in check. In Aberration (a working title) He releases the mad man inside. He nurtures his rage and anger and sets out on a path of wanton destruction with only one thing on his mind. Killing. All critiques, thoughts, heckles, and the like are welcome. Thanks for reading -JM

Aberration

1

He woke covered in blood, some old and some fresh from the previous night’s hunt. He had an acidic taste on his swollen tongue. His fingers were numb from the sub-freezing temperatures. Undaunted by the cold the fire still raged in his cracked psyche. He crawled from the wreckage of a half destroyed camper he had made his bed the previous night. He could smell the bodies of the innocent travelers who had been mercilessly killed only a few days before. He had grown accustomed to this smell. Even frozen, the dead still had a noticeable stench. This odor no longer sickened him.

He yawned and stretched surveying the destruction around him.  It was the third group he had discovered since he began hunting them just before winter set in. He had caught a few he believed to be scouts or messengers but they were useless to him. They couldn’t speak English so he had dispatched them with little courtesy and no regrets.

He was a killer. He could do it with no remorse and sleep like a baby the very same night. The days without kills were the ones he found it most difficult to sleep and most of his days were like this. He began carving his kills into the flesh of his left forearm and was pleased to see that it was filling in quite rapidly. There had been fifteen in the first group nine in the second and to his pleasure twenty-three in this last group.

These were trained soldiers he was killing. He sometimes hoped he would die when he went after them then anger would chase away his weakness and he would openly admonish himself. “They all must die, you swore it!” After this thought he would trek on confident in knowing his was a just mission and he would see it through.  He often found himself chuckling at the idea that he, a simple country boy was capable of taking out an entire platoon of trained and heavily armed fighters.

He was aware that he had several key advantages. His first and greatest advantage was the element of surprise. He could see the shock and awe on the faces of these sun hardened men. The look of disbelief that they the holy ones could be thwarted by a single infidel. He gloated and silently cheered himself as he crept across the countryside.

The second advantage he had was that these men had limited communications abilities and were forced to use shortwave radios. He could not understand their language but he learned to track the convoys based on the terrain and signal strength. He tracked one group of these terrorist for two weeks before he caught up.

The third and most important advantage Alex had was the cold. No amount of training could prepare you for a night of negative fifteen degree weather.  He had grown accustomed to it and thrived in it. He traveled lightly and could cover as much ground on foot as his quarry. Despite being well supplied and in large off road vehicles they had no chance of out pacing the ruthless predator that stalked them.

Alex traveled at night to keep his body temperature up. He could easily track the lumbering machines. The moon illuminated the snow so much it was as if the ground were glowing. He would sleep only when his body found it necessary. He was in the best physical condition of his life. He hadn’t eaten or drank anything unhealthy in months and the endless hike was turning what remaining fat stores he had from his lazy days on the couch. “Waiting to die,” into pure muscle.

He had never been characterized as small by any means. It had been his meek personality which made him seem smaller somehow. This was a new world and no one would ever think of this burgeoning titan as meek again. When he stopped to eat he obeyed all the rules he and his former traveling companions had put into effect. He sterilized everything before handling. The only difference now was his diet which consisted of mostly protein shakes, vitamins, and occasionally canned soups when he stumbled upon them.

When his mission began he was not in bad shape at 6’3 270 lbs. After months of hard traveling the former was a complete contrast to the chiseled 225 lbs. he now carried. He did not seem to realize the changes in his appearance. He rarely saw himself, lately the mirrors in the stalled cars he passed were caked with layer upon layer of ice and snow.

He did notice a change in his strength. His mind wandered as he trudged through the waist deep snow. “You almost got me didn’t you?” He asked aloud to the driving snow. He was unsure as to where he was, he sometimes just walked when he wasn’t stalking prey and he had new information to digest.

He remembered the night before. He crept up on the encampment during a complete white out. He almost felt sorry for the men he was about to kill. He had been watching them for days just staying out of sight. Being alone he could hide just about anywhere and not be noticed. Any tracks he left were quickly swallowed by the blowing winds and snow which he had been traversing for what seemed like an eternity.

He had been waiting for a night like tonight. The poor desert dwellers were trying in vain to stay warm. He chuckled as they tried to light a fire repeatedly but the frozen wood and wind had made it nearly impossible. He watched as they formed a circle with their vehicles trying to block the wind and snow. With this and a gallon or two of diesel fuel they were successful.  This was the last thing Alex had been waiting for.

Alex knew that seeing him dressed all in white in a blizzard with fire blind eyes would be near impossible. He was now virtually invisible. Alex treated these usurpers as vermin, nothing more than an infestation that needed eradicating. He treated them just as he and his kind had been treated. He had no mercy and went about his work as anyone would who enjoyed their business.

Alex carried few weapons these days, he found at the first Army reserve station he came to that it had been emptied of weapons. It was soon after he tracked down the first smaller platoon and discovered they were the weapons thieves. He got lucky and quite by accident discovered the offices of a blasting company. He used the munitions he found to dispose of the first group of interlopers. Periodically as he travelled he would find a phone book and seek companies such as these and help himself to their blasting supplies.

He smiled as he remembered crawling in a wide arc around the trucks creeping up every so often to carefully place more charges. The fools weren’t even posting a guard. Well why would they? He thought. They couldn’t know I would be out here. His grin widened as he remembered sending the charge through the wires.

The roar of the detonation was deafening. The blast created a reverse snow globe effect. There was a huge ball of fire and flying debris. He wished he would have had the foresight to have brought a camera. The devastation in that moment was a thing of beauty. The illusion was short-lived and quickly dispelled as the debris began raining down around him along with miscellaneous charred limbs. He ducked behind a large oak hoping he would not fall victim to his own handy work.

He stood cautiously with pistol in hand and surveyed the damages. Everything was destroyed. All eight of the charges intended for leveling old buildings had blown. He was getting better with this type of work. On the first two attacks not all had detonated.

It was then he saw movement just to the left of the biggest crater. He had missed one. He was on him in a flash before the stunned man could react. He appeared shaken but not seriously injured. When Alex pinned the much smaller man to the icy ground he began to yell in his native tongue. Alex pressed the muzzle of his 9mm into the soft exposed flesh of the man’s throat. There was already a round chambered as Alex had grown accustomed to doing. He was always prepared.

The man’s yells ceased and he closed his eyes seemingly preparing for death.

“English?” Asked Alex expecting to receive no reply or possibly more of the incoherent language his victims spoke.

Very clearly but terribly shaken, the man answered, “Yes, I speak it well.”

Alex was stunned. He had spoken to no other English speaking person since the day he buried his wife. This thought caused a lump in his throat and he quickly forced the memory away. Without warning he hit the man hard in the head with the grip of his gun rendering him unconscious.  He then tied the man to a tree and waited for him to wake.

Alex was deep in thought when he was drug from his reverie “please, I mean you no harm. I am a scholar. I was a doctor before all this. I had no choice. I had to work with these zealots to ensure the safety of my family.” The man’s plea angered Alex. Had this man traded Alex’s friends and family for his own? Yes, Alex thought. He had.

“Where were you going? What was your mission?” Alex was stern and the man knew this was his last day on earth. This man had struck without warning in the harshest weather he had ever known against twenty three heavily armed men alone. Yes he would soon be dead and he would tell this man whatever he wanted to know.

“I will tell you what you need to know. What was done by our leaders was unconscionable. I know I will die here today and you are right in doing so. If by chance you release me and I survive and rejoin my superiors I will, however unwillingly, be working against you again. I sir am, as I said a man of science. I hold a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. I will die with dignity. I will for my part do what is right. In an attempt to save myself and my family I have gone against all that I know is right and true.” He was silent.

Alex felt the man’s confession was honest but was still wary just the same. He spoke only one word. “Continue.”

“You know the plague had not been expected to spread so far or so fast. Our people were decimated just like everyone else. It came quickly but what was not known to anyone was that our leaders had known. Only the highest up knew what would happen. It was on a need to know basis. They called it the second flood. They were willing to sacrifice our own people in order to rid the world of the non-believers. In the story of the flood, God saved Noah and his family to start over. This is not a bible story sir; they saved only people with skills, allegiances, and money.

They began moving scientists like me, soldiers, various tradesmen, and others with useful skills to isolated encampments which were under quarantine. They used extreme caution and began the quarantines weeks before the virus was to be released. The story that was given about these quarantines was fictitious but who is going to question such a thing?

When the news reports began to trickle in, it was obvious as to what was going on. We had been spared when the rest of the world had been left to rot. There was a great deal of dissension amongst us and there were a few executions of the loudest of the naysayers. This quickly quelled any further argument. We were frightened. We all had family and friends who were left behind.  Darkness fell over our camp.

They waited until the reports stopped and they pooled our resources. They began trucking us slowly cross country carefully avoiding all populated areas and preparing us for our journey here. Our families are to be sent to us after we have settled and secured several strategic areas. These men you killed were escorting me to various power plants and strategic sites and my job is to disable them and to gain as much Intel as possible on other possible targets.

There are at least 100 different groups here now ranging in size from five to fifty men strong. They are all on different missions of this sort. We came by ships and were ferried on land by helicopter. Our ultimate mission is to colonize and…” He paused for the first time since he’d began speaking, knowing his next words would probably enrage this silent blue eyed giant whose gaze had not yet faltered from his face as he spoke. He gained his composure and finished despite the weight of his words, “and to exterminate any and all remaining indigenous peoples.”

Alex’s expression did not change with this revelation. Alex had already guessed this from the bodies he had found and from the carnage he had discovered in his own home months earlier. Yes they were here and they intended to stay.

The man waited for Alex to reply wondering how painful his death would be. He deserved it after all. His people, the ones he swore allegiance to had killed nearly the entire population of the world. They all deserved a tortuous death. He silently prayed.

“Where are the others?” He was angry, but he was always angry. This man’s story had made him no more or less so. It was an even burn Alex felt, nothing seemed to fade it. He was consumed with his obsession. He just wanted to know in which direction his next victims awaited.

He had expected this question and answered with no hesitation. “I know there is another group twenty miles north of here. Their mission is not known to me. We passed briefly a few weeks ago and we camped together for a night. As far as the others, all I can say is that we are here to take control of the power and most important resources or to destroy what we can’t control. We are seeking power plants, gas companies, water treatment facilities, and things of that nature. It is going to be a long effort. We are the advance groups. There will be others, many others. The ships have returned and are readying the next shipments.

Nearly half a million useful and trained people are coming. You may be in the right my friend, but you are terribly outnumbered.” As he finished Alex searched his face for a hint of satisfaction in this last damning statement but there was none. All that the man’s face held was remorse and guilt. Alex almost felt sorry for him, almost.

Alex turned and dug into his duffle bag. The man knew his time was short so he prayed. Alex could hear him under his breath and gave him ample time to finish. Alex mused momentarily that he would probably enjoy talking to this man under any other circumstances. He was educated and spoke with a refined air. Even tied to a tree he managed to hold himself together with a dignified presence.

Alex turned slowly and the man held his breath expecting to be torn to shreds in a hail of gunfire but it was not what greeted him. Alex had a small crystal decanter the man could see he had wrapped with care. He held two crystal snifters into each he poured two stiff Brandies. It was aged and very expensive. Alex kept it stocked to knock the chill out on the worst nights. Alex drank his quickly and despite his faith’s intolerance for alcohol the man did not object when the second snifter was put to his lips. He drank as quickly as Alex poured it into his mouth. His last thought was how warm and delicious this drink was.

Alex had laced the man’s glass with cyanide. “Thank you.” Alex said to the slumped corpse which had been so informative only moments earlier. He rose, dropped the glasses to the ground, he then took a long pull from the decanter. He returned the 400 dollar piece of fine crystal to its wrappings and safely tucked it away. Alex hoisted his pack and headed north.

Eulogy Post XI

 

blue skull

Alex 16

 

It was an easy trip back for the Hummer, but he had to be a bit more careful pulling the trailer through all the stalled cars. He was real excited about all the things he’d found, two large steel plows, a welding setup, complete with cutting torch and plenty of fuel for what he needed.

 

He intended to use the plows to make a cattle catcher for the front of his truck. He would have to do quite a bit of cutting and welding, and hoped if he wasn’t finished that day, that Red would be willing to wait till he was finished. He knew the rainy season was about to begin and didn’t want to get held up by being stuck in a ditch trying to get by the wrecks they were sure to find in more populated areas.

 

He made it back to where he had left his things, and as he had expected nothing had been bothered. He had gotten the idea pretty spur of the moment and had not looked to see what the truck was equipped to handle.

 

He unloaded all the parts, the plows were large and really heavy, he had used a wench to get them into the trailer. He had very little experience welding, he had only tried a few times in high school in shop class. He thought he could figure it out. He knew how to use the cutting torch, it was simple enough.

 

It took him quite a while to wrestle the plows down off the trailer, once he had them on the ground he was able to drag them into whatever position was needed. He took a break and called Red still panting, He told him what he was trying to do, Red joked that he must be bored. Red told him it was much slower going than he had imagined. After checking in with Red he got back to work.

 

He spent the next two hours practicing welds, once he was sure of what he was doing he began work on his make shift cow catcher. Using the cutting torch he removed all the parts from the blades, when he was finished he had two curved pieces of steel. He placed them flat and using the mammoth truck he attempted to flatten them. After a few attempts he saw the blades were still curved, but not nearly as pronounced as before, it would have to suffice.

 

Using various pieces of steel he fashioned a frame for his cow catcher, he loosely bolted this to the bumper so that it could tilt, he welded a large eye bolt to the point in the frame, to this he attached the wench. He drilled holes into the large semi flat pieces of steel, then bolted each to its own side of the frame in the shape of a V. Once he had the blades bolted up he welded the bolts to keep them secure, he used the wench to raise the front to the desired height He set it at about  eight inches above the asphalt, he hoped it was high enough.

 

He then reinforced it as best as he could, this permanently locked it into place. “In theory this should work.” He said aloud as he climbed into the cab, wanting to test his work.

 

He drove about a mile before he found a wreck, three cars wide on a two lane road, he slowed a bit and aimed the truck carefully, he only wanted to move the vehicles aside, not destroy them or flip them, just clear a path wide enough for those following him. The test started off well enough, the cars were parting seemingly at the trucks whim. Alex heard a loud snapping sound. A bolt had broken.

 

He would need more metal, he had to reinforce it further. He turned back and returned to his camp. He got out and surveyed the damage, it was not severe, the right blades main support had shifted and a bolt gave way.

He was thinking of ways to correct this problem when suddenly there was a black flash on his right side. Then he heard a snarl. Without so much as a glance back he bolted for the trucks passenger side door. He climbed in and locked it and hastily grabbed for the closest gun. It was a nine millimeter, he had gotten from John’s safe.

 

He wasn’t sure what he had seen, it had happened so fast, but he had heard the snarl. It was a dog, in his mind he pictured some hell hound from an old movie he’d seen late one night when he had a bad bout of insomnia. He felt a bit foolish, running from a dog as if it were Satan himself.

 

“I bet he’s just hungry.” Alex laughed to himself. He grabbed an MRE he had half eaten earlier and when he began rolling down the window noticed that there was more than one dog. He saw seven just on the driver’s side. They were keeping their distance, but not too far. There were all sorts of dogs,  medium to large. He was searching the cab for more food. That’s when he saw several more dogs walk around from the passenger side. They were far bigger than the rest, one a Great Dane, the other a bull mastiff. They were fearsome, and easily two of the biggest dogs he had ever seen.

 

He suddenly felt afraid, he was not scared of dogs, but these dogs just didn’t seem right. The sun was high in the sky, and he could see clearly. Was that blood on their mouths? He wondered. “Your just cracking up bud.“ He said aloud to himself. He convinced himself these were pets abandoned as their owners had died. They must have been going through garbage, and no telling what else to get food.

 

He cut the MRE all the way down the side and tossed it out. The MRE had barely hit the black top when the fighting had begun. They were all trying to get the food, then one of the first dogs he had noticed, a pit bull had latched on to a chow. The chow gave a shrill howl of pain and tried for the pit’s throat, before Alex’s very eyes the chow and pit bull were shredded to pieces and eaten.

 

It was then as the remaining animals sat and finished off their meals he understood, they were diseased. The poor creatures had been left to starve as everyone died, maybe their owners had set them free in the hopes they could fend for themselves.

 

“Red, this is Alex, where are you guys?” There was urgency in his voice, God if they pulled up and got out of their vehicles they would be killed or worse yet, infected.

 

“Yeah Alex, what’s wrong, you sound a bit wound up.” Replied Red, concerned, he then added, “last sign said ten miles to Burlington, that was a few minutes ago.”

 

“You guys need to stop, I was nearly attacked by a pack of diseased dogs. I caught a glimpse of one out of the corner of my eye and got in the truck just in time. At first I thought they were just hungry. I dropped some food out and they went after it, two began fighting and the others killed and ate the two who were fighting.” Alex was freaked out.

 

“Are you ok, did they touch you?” Came Sherry’s voice.

 

“No, but I have to do something, traveling is slow at best, they will have no problem keeping up with us. Maybe they will die, or maybe we run out of gas first.” Explained Alex.

 

“Think you can handle them?” Asked Red.

 

“I think so, I will call back shortly.” He answered.

 

“Good luck.” Red ended.

 

He had to think, there are at least seven of them out there, think Alex think. He was worried that if he weren’t careful they’d come after him in the truck. He knew they couldn’t get in, but they could contaminate his supplies.

He found another MRE he had left in the floor board, for eating that afternoon. He opened it and split its contents into three portions. This had to work. Dogs are not stupid animals, he knew, but he hoped the disease would make them less intelligent. Just maybe he could manipulate them enough.

 

He wrapped one portion into a piece of paper and threw it out the window, it landed about fifteen feet from the truck and as he hoped the dogs went after it. They began fighting almost instantly, he aimed with the pistol and began firing. There were yelps of pain and one fell on its side, seeing the wounded animal the two largest grabbed it and began dragging it away from the fight.

 

Alex was careful and was able to shoot four of the seven, sadly they had not all died as he had hoped, several lay whimpering. It hurt him to hear their pain, he reloaded and carefully ended their suffering. It’s then he realized the two larger animals were no longer in sight. He saw a blood trail leading towards the embankment in the median.

 

The dog he had missed seemed completely oblivious to the shots and just continued eating the nearest carcass. He shot him three times, the dog never made a sound, it just stopped moving. He began looking around for the other two.

 

He threw the remaining food he had been using as bait out and readied the gun. After a few minutes they crested the hill slowly, they seemed to know it was a trap. “Now you’re losing it, they are just sick animals. Get a grip dude.” Alex said to himself.

 

He noticed as they warily approached the food he had thrown out that the two dogs were wearing matching collars. He couldn’t help wonder who‘s pets they had been. They appeared to be healthier than the rest of the animals they had been traveling with. Alex was not a dog person, but to him these two could have been show dogs. The only dispelling feature was the foam dripping from their snouts and the blood matted around their mouths.

 

“I’m sorry,” Alex said before he opened fire, the first shot hit the lead dog, the mastiff, in the leg, then the gun jammed.

 

The wounded animal scampered back over the hill, but her companion charged the truck, he was quick and Alex barely got away from the window before the huge jaws were after him, frothing and snapping. He yelled out in fright, as he slid backwards across the seat blindly grabbing for his rifle. He found it, the dog was nearly in the cab, he could hear the claws scratching at the metal of the door trying to gain purchase.

 

He chambered a round and shot, the bullet tore into the door and the dog let out a yelp, but did not stop it’s advance. He chambered a second round cursing himself for missing. He was panicking, he knew if this dog so much as licked him, he would be a goner.

 

He aimed and shot, hitting the dog in chest, it fell with a thud, he scrambled out the passenger side door, gun at the ready, he needed to finish this. First he ran twenty feet from the truck as to prevent a sneak attack, he turned, and backed far enough up, to kneel and see where the dog had fallen and if it was in fact dead.

 

He heard whimpering, the animal was dead, the whimpering came from its mate as it limped towards where the animal had fallen. Alex made a wide circle around the truck trying to keep his distance, he had no way of knowing if there were any other surprises lurking.

 

He was fifty feet in front of the truck carefully scanning as he went, he could clearly see the two dogs, the wounded animal was licking the face of his dead companion. He whimpered as he laid down beside her, he placed his muzzle on the back of her neck and cried.

 

Alex had seen terrible things all around him for days, so much in fact that he had started getting used to seeing the dead in their cars, as if it were perfectly natural to stop on the side of the road and die. The sound of that dog crying, and the tears in his eyes would haunt Alex as much as any human tragedy he witnessed would haunt him the rest of his days.

 

“I am sorry old boy,” Alex said just before he fired. He had tears in his eyes, Alex thought, each day a little more of me dies.

 

He went to the hummer after he was sure the area was clear, worried he may have gotten infected, but having no way to know for sure, he would just have to continue on as if he weren’t. the thought of him sitting here waiting to see if he were infected, was an undertaking he would not concede to.

 

He stripped completely naked and tossed his clothes in a pile on the ground and using bottled water and soap cleaned himself using ten full gallon jugs. He used alcohol on a rag and wiped his entire body.  He put on another of his Hazmat suits and set out to clean the truck, he used four full gallons of bleach, liberally pouring it on every surface the animal had touched. He heard Red try him on the CB several times, but did not want to handle it, fearing he may contaminate it.

 

He used more bleach to fully decontaminate the suit, then using rags he fashioned from his discarded shirt he scrubbed the truck thoroughly. Satisfied it was clean he drove it away from where the animals lay. He walked back then moved the hummer and trailer.

 

The gash in his head had been a solid hum of dull pain, but had not troubled him very much, now it began pounding. This made him nervous. Still wearing the suit he used a chainsaw and cut down several trees, he used these to build a pyre. He carefully collected the bodies of the terrorists latest victims and placed them on it. He put the last two he had killed together on top as they had lain on the asphalt.

 

He piled more wood all around them and over them. He wondered how insane people would find his actions had any been alive to watch. He felt it was only right. He had killed them, and felt responsible for them. He used bleach on the places they had died. He soaked the pyre with a mixture of oil and gas, and as the sun was sinking he lit the wood.

 

He went through the routine of dousing his suit with Clorox, and remembered he had been naked inside the suit, he was drenched with sweat. He threw the suit into the fire careful not to touch it with his bare hands. He imagined he must have looked comical naked standing out there in the road.

 

He dreaded calling Red with the news that he may be infected. It had been hours since his last troubled message and he knew they would be anxious to hear from him. “Red you there?”

 

“Thank God!” It was Sherry’s voice he heard. “Are you ok?”

 

“I killed them all, but one nearly got me.” He answered solemnly.

 

“Did it touch you?” Sherry asked, with true concern in her voice.

 

“I think you should gather everyone around the CB so I can tell all of you this story at once.” Alex told her.

 

“Ok.” She answered.

 

A few minutes later Red’s troubled voice broke the silence, “Alex, we’re all here, what’s happened?”

 

Alex told them about waking that morning thinking he had heard a dog, but shook it off thinking he had imagined it, then about the growling he had heard in the parking lot at the Tractor Supply store. He even added what he had done with the truck, trying to soften the blow to himself as much as them. As he talked about one thing, he was continuously trying to organize his thoughts on the dog attack, trying to make it easier to say, as well as hear.

 

Finally he gave every detail of the attack as he remembered, starting with the glimpsing of the dog, all the way up to burning the bodies. He was finished. He had talked for nearly thirty minutes. His mouth was dry and he was as nervous as he had been in high school, on stage in front of hundreds of blank faces accepting his diploma.

 

Red broke the silence first. “Well son sounds like you did everything I would have in that situation, and I pray you aren’t infected.” His voice was warm and caring, there was a hint of sadness.

 

“Look I have enough supplies in the back of this truck to last you five for a good long while, there are weapons, and if what I have seen is any indication of what is to come, you will need them. I haven’t been in the back of the truck since the attack, and I will not. If I am infected you will need to find another large vehicle to carry it all in, The cab of this one will be too dangerous to enter. If it is fine with you, I will stay ahead of you guys and use my truck to clear the roads. We will know if I am sick within a day.”

 

“It sounds fine to me son, let me see what the others think.” Alex heard a click then silence fell for a full five minutes.

 

“Sug, it’s Sherry, I want you to listen carefully, I really hope you’re not sick, but if you are we won’t abandon you. I’m a nurse, and anything I can do to help I will. Look,” Her voice went grave after this last word , “the couple who is traveling with us are a bit strange, Red Is out there trying to calm them down. The woman has had a complete breakdown. From what Red said the night we met them and even before what happened was clear to us, she had acted as if she were suffering from some sort of mental illness. My husbands a psychologist you see.”

 

“Ok, but please tell them I will keep my distance, I would never try and get someone else sick.” Alex answered.

 

“I know you wouldn’t sug, but some people just can’t be reasoned with. Here comes Red, one sec.” Sherry as before had forgotten to let go of the button.

 

“Well, are they settled down?” He heard Sherry ask her husband.

 

“Hardly, the woman has completely lost her mind, she thinks just looking at him will make her sick. She needs to be institutionalized, only problem is those institutions don’t exist anymore. I have been trying for days to get Phil aside to talk to him about her, he knows I am psychologist. He acts as if he doesn’t know what I mean when I ask him how his wife is doing.” Red paused.
“I tried asking him about her the other morning and got my head bitten off.” Sherry added.

 

Red began again, “this guy may be sick, but I am not gonna leave him to die alone, that would be cruel and inhumane. I pray he is not, sounds like he has a good head on his shoulders. As long as we take precautions we should do fine. Look I told Phil if they felt so strongly they could go on their merry way without us. I knew something like this was gonna happen with them.” Alex heard a noise, and someone shouting inaudibly.

 

“Oh Christ Red, they are going to kill him!” He heard Sherry scream.

 

“They wouldn’t came a quieter voice,” Then there was silence.

 

 

Alex/Red 17

 

“Red what’s going on?” Asked Alex.

 

“They just took off towards you, Sandra was screaming that they are gonna kill you. We are coming towards you, but we don’t see them yet. She just kept screaming at him to go kill you. I am afraid they may very well be on their way to do just that. You need to hide.” Red said exasperated.

 

“Well we definitely have a problem then, because I can’t move this truck right now, and I am not leaving a massive stash of weapons for some psychos to pick up. I won’t do anything crazy, I will try and talk to them.” Alex didn’t know what he was going to say in this talk, but he would have to come up with something.

 

“Well we won’t be far behind them, good luck, and Alex be careful these people are terribly unbalanced.” Red said solemnly.

 

Phil was weaving in and out of the stalled vehicles far too quickly, but somehow he managed to keep the SUV from crashing, he had been listening to everything. Red hadn’t noticed him removing the CB from his RV before they had abandoned it.

 

Sandra had been steadily mile after grueling mile repeating like a mantra, he’s a murderer, he will kill us. At first she had tried to make arguments, some even sounded half based in reality, but she was in another world all her own. She was schizophrenic, a fact Phil had kept to himself, for many years. He was skilled at glossing over any sudden outbursts and deviant behavior anyone had witnessed from her.

 

He had met Sandra, while he was a patient at a psychiatric hospital nine years earlier. He was a manic depressive, with psychotic symptoms. He heard voices, but having Sandra to care for and the meds had allowed him to function for all these years without anyone knowing.

 

He had kept Sandra on her meds, and she was usually very lucid, she was very sweet to him and him alone. Anyone else she encountered was treated as an enemy. She had been in the hospital due to the fact her last parent, her father, had died leaving her without anyone to administer her medications. She had curled up in a corner. She was terribly malnourished, and dehydrated. When they found her she had scratched and dug at her skin so badly she required skin grafts on each of her arms. Thus leading to her always wearing long sleeved shirts. Phil always dressed the same so that she wouldn’t feel different.

 

She attacked the first officer to enter the room, gouging his face horribly screaming that he had murdered her father. They were forced to use mace. She had been charged with a felony, but it was thrown out of court on the grounds she was completely and utterly incompetent. They found her father in an upstairs bedroom. He had been dead five days from massive heart failure.

 

Phil had come to visit her every chance he could, he even took classes and became an RN so he would have leverage in his court case for having her released. Everything had gone great for them after her release. They shared a little condo and were left alone most of the time, Phil had gotten into the habit of giving her a larger dose of Thorazine, a powerful sedative, so that he wouldn’t have to worry about her while he was at work.

 

The arrangement had went very well, until shortly after they had a new neighbor move in. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but he liked to listen to his stereo a little loud. Not even loud enough to hear through the walls. The only way you could hear it is if his windows and theirs were open. One day a few weeks after Phil had lowered Sandra’s Thorazine dosage, he came home and first thing he noticed was one of Sandra’s shoes in the flower bed between the separate walks for the two condos. He grabbed her shoe and hurried toward the door, which he now noticed was ajar.

 

He searched for her but she was not home, he began to panic, he ran outside frantically searching for her. He decided to go knock on the neighbors door and see if he had seen her. He approached and saw there were long gouges in the door, his heart sank. He knocked and from the force of his knock the door swung open far enough for him to see a man’s bare bloody leg.

 

He whispered, “Sandra, honey are you in there?”

 

He slowly pushed the door open, not sure what he was going to find, as more of the man’s body was exposed he saw that he had been mercilessly stabbed, head to toe, he could not possibly guess how many times as he looked at the poor man’s remains. In places he looked like ground meat, and beside his body drenched in his blood laid Sandra, unconscious with exhaustion.

 

He quickly grabbed a blanket got her up and back into their place, where he administered a large dose of the sedative. He placed her in the shower and scrubbed every inch of her. This took well over an hour, she was completely drenched, she had parts of the man stuck in her hair, and under her fingernails.

 

Phil had taken an oath, in sickness and in health, he would not let her be locked up ever again, he could fix this. He would fix this. He rationalized that she had done what she did, solely because she was sick, and thus did not deserve to be punished. He loved her, he couldn’t stand being alone again. If that happened he would pull the trigger next time.

 

As he had been washing her, she had only said one thing, “make him turn it down.” To Phil this bolstered his rationalization and he began to think the guy had deserved it. He had been torturing his wife with unbearably loud music.

 

Phil went next door, found the knife his wife had used, he wiped the door down inside and out, making sure she had not left bloody prints anywhere. He found a box of candles and lit them placing them all around the room the man was in. He lit them all, he rearranged the man’s furniture staging an apparent home invasion gone wrong. He took all the man’s valuables, wallet, anything he thought a would be robber or crack addict would want.

 

He took one of the candles spilled a little wax on the counter it had been sitting on and slid it’s container back until it was under a shelf on the edge of the counter. He then placed all the flammable things he could find on the shelf, bottles of cologne, cooking spray, oil, and a quart jar of gas. He had gotten the gas from the dead man’s garage. He then piled paper cloth anything he could find that would flame up and  burn hot and quick. The idea was for the candle to burn down to a point and then it would ignite the accelerants, which would in turn ignite the gas and other things stacked on the shelf.

 

He was careful not to overdo it, he wanted the evidence here destroyed, not his condo or his things. The guy was dead so screw him, he didn’t need his stuff anymore. He went home got himself cleaned up and dressed his wife, they were going out. Despite her protests she reluctantly allowed him to lead her to their car. They stopped at a fast food restaurant, he paid with his credit card. Then they saw a movie, where he also paid with his credit card. As they left the theatre he casually threw a bag of garbage away in plain sight of a police officer. The bag of trash was the man’s valuables and wallet. After discarding the last of the evidence, he nodded and smiled at the police officer as they passed. The clothes he had gotten rid of simply by putting them in a plastic bag, he then drenched its contents with ammonia, and threw them in the dumpster at the fast food place they had stopped at.

 

The plan had worked as he had hoped, he had been worried that maybe it wouldn’t. Even the officer outside the theater remembered seeing them. There were police cars and fire trucks everywhere. Smoke still issued from the gutted condo but Phil and Sandra’s seemed unharmed. He grinned. The police had no reason to doubt where they said they had been, he didn’t offer but they asked and he showed them both their stubs, and the receipt from the restaurant. They simply had the officer from the theater come by and he said he saw them leaving the movies. They had to stay at a hotel a few days. There had been damage to the electrical lines, but that had been the extent of the repercussions for committing murder.

 

Phil and Sandra were both out of meds now, both were in desperate need of them. “There!” Screamed the psychotic woman from the passenger side of the SUV still barreling through the massive car graveyard. They could see the smoke from the fire creeping up over the trees from around the slight bend in the interstate.

 

They had listened the night Alex had told about the man he had executed, and Phil knew then he would have a problem with him. Who was he to dole out justice, he was nobody, and now he was sick. Yes Sandra was right, if he couldn’t get us sick he would murder us in our sleep. His thoughts tormented and twisted were not a match for what was going on in his wife’s mangled psyche.

 

They were both out of control and on a mission to kill. Phil, not a very rational man in the best of circumstances hadn’t even considered sneaking up on Alex, who knew they were coming. He had heard that coward Red kissing up to him, so he would be safe. Phil had decided to kill them all, and he would.

 

He slid the SUV to a halt and jumped out, Red hadn’t known Phil was armed, he was always armed. No one would keep him from her again. He jumped from the vehicle gun pointed at the large truck, Sandra spilled out and crowded close behind him.

 

Alex didn’t have much time to prepare for their arrival, and decided the plows were his best bet, no matter how they approached. He had an M-16 clutched clumsily in his hands, he had never fired such a weapon, but knew he may get his chance soon enough.

 

“Come out you murdering, diseased freak, we’re gonna kill you.” Cajoled the woman, he now knew how Red felt when he had first glimpsed the couple.

 

“Listen I don’t want a problem, I don’t have a problem with you guys, and I want to be left alone. So you just go on your way and we never have to see each other again.” Alex replied.

 

Alex was waiting for a reply when Phil started shooting, his shots were wild and inaccurate, but far too close for comfort. Phil then demanded, “come on out so we can end this, we have to get ready for that old fuck, his bitch, and the little slut they have with them.” As Phil had said this he didn’t see Red, Sherry, and Beth, in his mind he saw his mother, father and his sister. Whom he hadn’t seen in fifteen years.

 

Red had arrived, but they had parked just past the bend, he approached on foot in the median just out of sight down the hill. Alex saw him as his white hair crested the hill, he knew who he was the second he saw his face.

 

“Phil don’t move,” Red demanded.

 

Phil turned and saw Red standing there shot gun in his hands pointed at his midsection. “You old bastard, after all I have done for you.”

 

Red found this comment a bit strange, considering he and Sherry had taken care of all the meals, had gotten them a vehicle, and never asked for so much as a thank you. Red knew insanity; it was his life’s work.

 

While being distracted by Red, Alex had taken the opportunity to get into a better position and had his sights trained on Phil’s chest. “Look man just put the gun down, no one is here to hurt you guys, why the hell were you shooting at me for Christ’s sake?”

“Not here to hurt me not here to hurt me, just here to blare your music and steal my RV and kill me, kill me kill me!,” Sandra repeated gaining volume and pitch with each burst.

“Phil put the gun down, we have to talk, we can work this out, you and your wife are not well, I can see that, your out of medication aren’t you? Of course, if that is all, we can find more pills.” Red pleaded.

 

For a moment Alex thought he saw rationality set into Phil’s eyes, he was grateful. Phil dropped the gun, all the while his wife circled him like a wild animal protecting her young from multiple attackers. When she saw the gun fall she screeched a blood curdling scream. “NO HE”S GONNA KILL US!” She dove for the gun, Phil feebly grabbed at her, he appeared lost in a dream.

 

Red and Alex were both yelling at her to stop, Phil looked on stupidly. Before anyone could do more than yell she had the gun in her trembling hand she lifted it from her knees and aimed at Alex and fired, all the while they were yelling for her to stop to no avail.

 

The bullet ripped the flesh of his left shoulder grazing the bone, the feeling was hot flaring pain. Alex did not want to fire, but at feeling the bullet tear at his shoulder involuntarily squeezed the trigger. She was hit once in the throat and once in the chest. She dropped to her knees with her head bent forward as if she were praying and fell asleep.

 

He remembered it all as a dream, one minute she was screaming trying to kill him, and the next it was if something had exploded in her, the blood, he thought how could so much blood come from one person? Alex could hear the gurgling as she tried to breathe, only then did her expression change from one of malice, to an expression only someone aware of their own imminent demise can manifest.

 

Phil stood watching the last of his wife’s life blood pump out, he knelt and kissed her face, her eyes glazed over and finally she was at peace. He wanted this man dead, and he wanted to be dead. He reached over the corps of his slain wife and grabbed the pistol. He slowly stood, never taking his eyes from Sandra’s deadened stare.

 

“Why did you do this, this is your fault?” Alex demanded of Phil with tears in his eyes. Then he added. “First my neighbor, then the crazy man at that store, the dogs, and now your wife, what the fuck is wrong with you?” Alex demanded.

 

Red had stood speechless, he hadn’t been able to shoot Sandra when she had opened fire, and he knew that had she killed Alex, he would be dead also, and then they would have went after his wife and the girl. He was an old man, playing at young men’s games, but no, these aren’t games are they? He wondered if he were in a state of shock, all this had happened around him and he didn’t even have the presence of mind to run.

 

“You’re right, it’s been my fault all along, now finish it.” Phil demanded.

 

Phil raised the gun towards Alex, as Alex pleaded. “Please NO!”

 

Alex obliged, however unwillingly, he did as Phil asked.

Eulogy Post X

 

 

newskull

Alex 15

     Alex woke with a start, he thought he heard a dog snarling; he stood and surveyed the parking lot but didn’t see anything. He just figured he had dreamt it. He started to wonder what had happened to all the pets. He had never been much of a pet owner, although he loved animals. He had fish and that had pleased him enough. He wasn’t comfortable with having another creature depending on him.

 

He relieved himself , stretched , yawned and using some bottled water washed his face and brushed his teeth. He wanted a shower, but with the power out and swimming pools being about the only good source of water he’d have to skip it. “Maybe I can find a park with a lake to camp in tonight.” He said to himself.

 

He felt an urgent need to get moving, he had no real explanation for this other than maybe his own paranoia. He ate two of the MRE’s got the six ton running, familiarized himself with its operation and decided to tow another of the vehicles behind it. He would take a hummer, just in case he needed it. He was sure this monster he picked to drive was more than capable of pulling the extra weight. He could always use more storage space.

 

He got on the road at 8:00 am and started towards the interstate, although it wasn’t very far it took him quite some time, and to his dismay the on and off ramps for each were clogged with stalled cars. “Damn it!” He cursed aloud. “Well may as well see what this thing can do.”

 

He took a road that paralleled the interstate and once he found a grade he liked, drove through the fence separating that road from the interstate. The ground was soft , but the grade was at a downward angle so he had no problems, just a seriously bumpy ride. Once he was on level paved ground he thought to check the CB.

 

“Good morning post-apocalyptic North Carolina, anyone out there?” He was in a good mood, he finally felt where ever this adventure was heading, it had finally begun. It was hard to feel bad after all that he had been through and lived, sitting here in the bright sun.

 

“Morning.” Came a distorted voice.

 

“Hey, thank God there is someone else alive!” Alex shouted with joy into the handset.

 

“My names Red, we just passed Raleigh and it’s rough going, we are heading your way. Not real sure how long, it’s gonna take us to get to Burlington.” Red had excitement in his voice, but also a bit of wariness.

 

Hearing him say Burlington, Alex knew they had been listening last night when he had spoken of the execution. “Well I hope if ya heard me last night ya didn’t get the wrong idea. I felt I didn’t have a choice, what would you have done?”

 

“Look son, from what you said, I think maybe you did the right thing, that man could have killed a lot more people.” Red, didn’t want to piss off this guy who was so close, and a survivor. It was a new world, and the rules had  changed. The man had taken three lives, red had never been a proponent of the death penalty, but he had spent much of the previous night considering what he would have done. He had decided he probably would have done the same.

 

This he had been talking about quietly with his wife, while Beth snoozed in the back seat. Beth had fallen asleep no sooner than they were underway. At breakfast, Sandra and Phil had been  the joyous duo they had begun to expect.

 

“Thank you,” Alex answered.

 

“Where ya headed Alex?” Red  asked, the conversation had grown awkward, he was trying to move it along.

 

“West, not sure exactly where yet, somewhere, where there never were many people in the first place. I dunno, maybe I am just being paranoid, but I don’t want to be here, there are just so many bodies, there is no way to get rid of them all. What if the assholes that did this survived? How long before they get tired of the desert and want to upgrade?” Alex was on the verge of one of his rants, which happens when he is talking about something he feels is important, gets nervous and  just can’t stop talking about it.

 

“I think that is pretty wise son, we are heading west also, we aren’t sure where we are going. It’s me, my wife, Sherry, a young lady named Beth, and a couple driving in their own vehicle, but not so sure if they are gonna stay with us. The don’t seem to like company.” Replied Red.

 

“Wyoming or Montana maybe. I don’t want to go any further west than that, with the nukes they set off in California.” Alex suggested.

 

“So the kid was right, they bombed California, New York to then?” Red asked.

 

“Yeah, from what I heard on the news New York City was decimated, they used three or four detonated at the same time. The news got real hard to understand, the reporters were asking questions more than answering them. No one seemed to know what was going on.

 

“My God, all those people.” Red said with despair rising in his voice.

 

“They were the lucky ones, most suffered terribly before they died. This virus, some called it a version of Ebola, but we may never know, it melted them basically, their organs liquefied. I could barely stand to watch the news, it showed people dying in the streets lined up to get in the hospitals. People were going insane shooting each other right in front of the cameras, trying to make the line shorter so they could get inside for the cure. Sad fact was, there was no cure.” Answered Alex dismally, he felt his lighthearted mood failing. He had forgotten those broadcasts, convinced it was a bad hoax, the modern day War Of The Worlds. How wrong he had been.

 

“Well son we are heading in your direction, I don’t know if you feel like having traveling companions, strength in numbers and all that.” Offered Red.

 

“Sounds great, maybe I could head in your direction maybe help you get through this mess.” Eagerly answered Alex, he couldn’t bare being alone any longer, he felt good, but the loneliness was stifling.

 

“We are making progress, slowly but surely, if you don’t mind waiting we’ll be there hopefully by this afternoon.” Said red.

 

Alex wondered what kind of man Red was, he sounded like a kind grandfatherly sort. Then he wondered about the couple Red said was traveling with them, Alex couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to go it alone in this world, which had seemingly gone mad overnight. “I don’t mind at all, I am gonna go until I find a nice spot to camp. Just let me know when you are close, I will get a nice fire going and we can swap stories.”

 

Red agreed, “that will be nice,” they both had so much they wanted to ask each other, but they were being interrupted by bursts of static. They wanted to have stuff to talk about that night, so they signed off just checking back and forth every hour or so.

 

Alex climbed out of his truck, stretched his legs, although he hadn’t been driving long, the last few nights sleeping in cars had given him a stiffness he was having trouble shaking off. He had stopped at a nice open stretch of interstate. The nearest vehicles were nothing more than specs in the distance.

 

Alex unhooked the Hummer and decided to make their evenings meeting a bit of a celebration. There wasn’t much to celebrate he thought, only the fact that they had basically won the lottery. The prize had not been hundreds of millions of dollars, instead the grand prize had been life.

 

“A morbid thought.” He said aloud as he started the Hummer. He headed on towards the Elon College exit. He stopped the Hummer realizing he had left the keys in the 5 ton, then he thought the chances of someone stealing the large truck were slim to none. He continued on.

 

Alex had plenty to share, but he knew the pre-packaged military food would never go bad, not before it was all eaten, but it would get boring in time. Variety, The Spice Of Life, he saw on a billboard as he approached the exit. “How right you are.” He smiled.

 

He approached the Wal-Mart and noticed there were quite a few vehicles in the parking lot. He thought, looks like any store parking lot on any given day, except there are no people walking around, and there are bodies in some of these cars, not kids or spouses who waited outside. They weren’t waiting on their wives or mothers to finish the shopping. They were dead, each and all, dead.

 

He felt the guilt a bit and forced it down, it was getting easier to stop the involuntary emotions. “Is this maturity?” He asked aloud.

 

The front of the Wal-Mart looked like it had been bombed. Glass in every direction, the metal door frames were twisted and broken. He then saw the car someone had driven into the store. There was a sign on the ground to the right of where the main entrance had been, now a gaping hole.

 

The sign simply read closed. It had been hand painted on a piece of poster board. He drove a little closer and saw that the driver of the car was half hanging out of the car, he couldn’t tell if he had died from the crash, but to Alex, it appeared the guy had been shot. He would have to find a different entrance. What if someone is in there, trying to claim Wal-Mart and all its property as their own.

 

Alex drove around the large building looking for a better entrance, he had taken all the unused Hazmat suits from the armory, and for this he was thankful. He approached the lawn and garden area, knowing the store pretty well, he had been there dozens of times since it had been built. He would enter there.

 

He got out of the vehicle, donned the suit and grabbed his rifle. He then changed his mind and opted for one of the assault rifles he had found. He edged towards the double glass doors, each of which was fully intact. He thought he’d have to break them, but when he got in range of the sensor the doors opened of their own accord. “Holy shit!” He yelled inside the suit.

 

Alex half expected to see armed zombies come piling out the door trying to kill him. None came, and after a few minutes his heart slowed, he had let the door close and waited, after a few minutes he had control of his fear.

 

He entered, trying to look in every direction at once, not wanting to be surprised. He made it inside and crouched down behind the nearest shelf and waited. There was some sort of barricade in the middle of the isle, he could just see the top of some one’s head.

 

“Hey, you over there, you ok?” He yelled, the sound was muffled of course, but he couldn’t imagine anyone not hearing him.

 

He waited, yelled a few more times, then realized this guy must be dead, or the soundest sleeper he had ever heard of. He grabbed a small ceramic planter and crept farther down the aisle, he launched the planter in a high arc, it landed with a thundering crash which reverberated around the store. He knew this may have been a mistake, then thought that hummer is loud enough to wake the dead. He knew he was right, his tenseness was fading, not entirely, but he knew he was safe now, everyone here was dead.

 

He was still careful, he made his way around behind the barricade and saw he had been correct, the man behind the barricade had been sick, and took his own life. It was a gruesome sight, but Alex had seen worse. He unconsciously pressed his hand to his chest where under the suit he had placed the little girls book in his breast pocket.

 

As would become and old habit very quickly when entering any building, he would search every room, and every isle, to make sure no one was waiting in ambush, and worse yet, no one had died leaving their corpse for him to stumble over.

 

He had seen more than a few  possible ends in his life, horrible car crash,(his parents) bombings,(on the news everyday)  shootings, (on the news, but more recently the people at the store) and the virus. He decided if he had to go, he’d pick any way but the later.

 

He had searched the entire store he checked by the main entrance last, he understood better what had happened. The man in the car did not appear to be sick at all, he had been shot in the top of his head as he tried to exit his car through the window. In the passenger seat was a woman, she too had been shot. She as best as Alex could tell had not been infected, but there was no way to know. They had been dead a few days.

 

Hiding behind a barricade by the optical center were their executioners. All infected, it was pretty obvious, the discoloration of the skin, the green slime, which had disgusted him so only a few days ago, seemed nothing more to him now than the power lines running down the sides of the roads he had grown up on.

 

“So many things we took for granted,” he remarked inside his white suit, his only defense against death. Then he realized, “the door opened all by itself,” the power was still on here. He made his way to the rear of the store and found the main light switches, they all came on.

 

He went through to the loading dock and opened one of the bay doors, went and got the hummer and drove it around back. He grabbed a cart and went through the half of the store that sold groceries, he filled the cart and emptied it five times, carefully picking things he knew were sealed and thus could be disinfected without spoiling the contents.

After he had gotten all the food he thought necessary, with what was in the big truck they could take a trip to the moon and back and still have some left over. Too much is better than not enough. He found a large plastic tub and then grabbed thirty gallons of Clorox bleach.

 

He poured it all into the tub. He began dipping each of the things he had gotten into the bleach. He then carefully spread them so they could dry, some of the labels peeled away, he didn’t care. Food was food, and they weren’t making anymore at the moment.

 

This process took him quite a while, he realized he hadn’t checked in with Red since before entering the store. He had let him know it may be a while before he called back. When he finished he poured bleach all over himself, fully saturating the suit, he was not taking any chances. He then loaded the stuff he had gotten into the rear of the hummer then stripped off the suit leaving it where it had fallen. He had 4 more, but knew he would need to find more.

His next stop was the Tractor Supply store next door. This he didn’t feel he needed to be wearing a suit for, the store was smaller and locked up tight. He broke through the glass with a sledge hammer he had gotten from John’s garage. He went in found the keys to the large chain that ran through all the trailers and other equipment that was parked outside. He selected a pretty big trailer, one with three foot side rails, he filled it with things he thought he would need.

 

He spent about thirty minutes collecting things, then decided to take a break and call Red. “Red, Alex here, you there?”

 

“Yeah bud, everything ok? We were getting worried.” Replied Red.

 

“Yeah, just had a bit of a scare at Wal-Mart.” He then briefly explained the scene and what he thought had happened.

 

“It’s just awful,” He heard a woman say, “hi Alex, Sherry here. I had to take over for Red a minute, we kind of hit a roadblock and he needs both hands to get through.”

 

“Whew that was rough,” he heard her say, “good driving hon.”

 

“Sherry honey ya have to let go of the button when you’re done talking.” Alex heard Red say.

 

“Pleased to meet ya Sherry, and glad you made it through.” Alex laughed a little.

 

“Phil and Sandra about rolled over; we had to go down the embankment a bit to get by all the wrecks.” Red said solemnly, but Alex could hear a tinge of excitement in his voice.

 

“Well we got all sorts of food, canned mostly, but there are a few other things. I am at the Tractor Supply company, you need anything?” asked Alex.

 

“My garage back home looks like the inside of one of those already,” Red paused, seemingly choked by his words. “Well we got all sorts of food, canned mostly, but you never know what we may run into, maybe some chain, a come along or two, anything we can use to move these wrecks out of our way. I have a feeling we are going to hit far worse traffic jams in other places. You can never have to many tools.”

 

“OK then, I will get all I can get, this is on our way, I may just pack up another trailer and we can swing through and grab it tomorrow if ya want.” Offered Alex.

 

“That sounds great.” Red answered.

 

Alex went back to work, he filled the trailer he had picked for himself, then found another one of similar size. He filled each with nearly half the contents of the store. Afraid to miss anything, he took things he was almost sure he wouldn’t need, but just didn’t want to take the chance.

 

He finished at the store within the hour and headed back towards where he’d left his truck. As he pulled away from the Wal-Mart he thought he heard a dog growling, but after carefully scanning the parking lot and even circling around once, he was sure he had imagined it.

Eulogy Post IX

 

newskull

Jakobs 13

 

Jakobs was very sore and stiff when he woke, but he was already feeling better. He was still very dehydrated but alive, he still had a few leg spasms but none as bad as when he was confined in the back of the cruiser. He needed clothes. It had snowed during the night and was below freezing.

Wrapped in a blanket he went out and searched the cruiser. In the trunk he found a spare uniform and a pair of military style boots. They were a little loose but they fit.

He set out from the hotel in search of food and a vehicle more suited for the snow. When he had passed the small Sheriff’s department on his way to the hotel the day before he noticed the large four-wheel drive truck parked in front. He knew he’d have to be careful he didn’t want to stumble across any bodies trying to find the keys.

He opened the door slowly and waited for the stench of death to escape the small brick building. It did not come. Careful not to touch anything he made his way through the entrance. It seemed there hadn’t been anyone inside in months. He couldn’t imagine there being more than two or three people working in this cramped office. There were only two desks and hanging on a hook beside the larger of the two was what he was looking for.

There were five keys on the ring, several were locker keys and the keys to the Suburban parked outside. He knew being in there was risky but he needed supplies. He searched the building and found a case which held three shotguns two old revolvers and a hunting rifle. These he took as well as all the ammunition stored at the bottom.

In a locker in a small closet he found a store of HAZMAT suits. He took all of these; he knew he would need them to get to the prisoners out of death row. He loaded the Suburban and headed back in. There was a small vending machine which he emptied after bashing the glass out with his shotgun.

There was a water dispenser which was still half full, with great effort he removed the large bottle and took it as well. He drank greedily until he was almost sick then stopped. He ate three of the snacks from the vending machine. “Garbage food,” he called it. It would have to do for now. He had spent his entire life eating homegrown vegetables and either home raised meat or whatever he had killed hunting.

He waited a while to see if he would be sick, but he wasn’t. He was exhausted but knew he needed to get the other men from death row free or they would run the chance of getting sick. He knew they had probably fared better than he did. They had been nearly three days without food or water so they were living on borrowed time. It was the heat in the cruiser that nearly did him in. The guys on the row, as they called it, would have a much slower more painful death.

He didn’t care for any of the other killers he shared the wing with. He just liked the kid. He didn’t know or care why the rest were there. He would set them free anyway and they would owe him. He wanted them in case he ran into trouble. He had heard stories of the sick attacking the healthy just spreading the disease further. “Strength in numbers buddy,” he thought aloud.

He would just part company and head back into the hills where he had spent his entire life until the whore got caught. “Fucking assholes minding another man’s business,” he spat. He needed a new wife, he figured he was young enough to have a son of his own and raise him right the way he was raised. “This country needs real men, and God help the man who tries to make the first rule.”

He drove the large vehicle more surely than he had driven the police cruiser. He was feeling revived even energized. His ankles and wrists ached but he didn’t mind. He was alive and he took this as a sign he had been in the right all along. “I should be dead right along with everyone else in that prison but here I sit driving a police truck.” He laughed with a maniacal grin on his face. “Now I’m in charge!”

He arrived at the prison and drove back to the spot he had been held captive in the sweltering cruiser. He passed where the guard had been. He saw bones that were picked clean but barely enough for half a man. He could see where something had drug larger parts away.

At this, he wondered if the animals were immune. He knew he’d have to be on his guard. The sight of the molested remains did nothing to dispel his mood. He felt good and feeling vindicated by his survival he had no time for useless emotions.

He parked the truck careful not to do so much as walk where the fallen guard had tread. He donned a HAZMAT suit; this took quite a bit of time. He had never worn anything like this so he was clumsy with the donning. After twenty minutes he was sure he was properly suited up.

He carefully packed the remaining suits in a large police duffel bag he found in the truck. He walked up to where the guard had exited just a few days prior. The door was not shut. The power was still on at the prison and this he was glad of. Death row was almost fully lit by artificial means and a power outage would almost certainly mean stumbling around in the dark with a flash light. That could be dangerous when you don’t know where the dead lay.

He didn’t know what this disease had been but he knew it was as bad as the best imagination could produce. The stories people told were horrific. One caller cried for help saying he had kept his wife and children safe but when they tried leaving to find a better place to wait it out they were attacked.

The crazed sick man had knocked out a window and tried to grab one of his children and in the process infected the caller’s entire family. The caller said he kept begging them for the cure. By the time he made the call to the radio station he was almost as crazed as the man who accosted him and his family. He too began thinking there was a cure.

Jakobs had no way of knowing, but similar situations all across the world had taken place as he listened in the boiling cruiser. The sick were convinced that anyone well had the cure and began to attack in droves. The disease spread at first by those fleeing the threat of nuclear weapons and then spread by the diseased hunting those not yet infected in hopes of finding a cure. It was anarchy at its most primal level.

Jakobs had indeed dodged a certain death sentence, he thought. In his mind’s eye it was God sparing him. He was a cold callous killer. He had always been just on the verge of a psychotic rage at any time. Now for the first time in his life he felt a change inside. He now believed he was chosen and that he could do anything he saw fit. “God took the so called good, killed ‘em real damn good. Shows ya who the good ones are now don’t it?” He blurted inside the stuffy HAZMAT suit.

He made his way to the control room for death row. All the doors were open. The guard had stumbled all the way out not bothering to close a single door on the way. This was convenient but Jakobs could have still gotten to them even if they hadn’t. The power was on, and all the doors were electronically locked. The keys to the cruiser had the main guard’s room keys on it. He could have as easily opened all the cells from there.

He was glad they were open. He had peered into the different guard rooms between doors and saw many of the guards still sitting where they had been the morning they had taken him and put him in the cruiser.

He made it to the last guard room where they monitored the death row inmates. He opened the door and it was vacant as he had hoped. He didn’t know what had become of the guard who was supposed to be there. Perhaps he had somehow left while he was asleep the first day in the car. Even with the HAZMAT suit on Jakobs was careful of what he touched and how he did so. He found the intercom switch that would allow all the death row prisoners to hear him.

Just as he began speaking a roar came through the speaker on his end. All five prisoners began yelling and cursing. It took him a full minute of yelling for the men to quiet down.

His voice was muffled but the condemned men had little trouble understanding. “This is Jakobs from cell three; when I open the cells do not come out. There is some sort of virus and it killed everyone here. We are the only ones alive. I was in the town near here but I was hurt and had to find a way to get you out safely. If you exit your cells without a hazardous materials suit on you will die. I have one for each of you. Take your time they are hard to get on.”

Each man understood, they had some idea of what was going on, but not how bad it had really been. They had all stayed glued to their radios and televisions until the stations had stopped broadcasting.

Jakobs hit the switch that released the electronic locks on the men’s cells. None dared exit; they waited each in turn until Jakobs brought them a suit. It took the men far longer to equip the safety gear than Jakobs and he was growing impatient. It was getting late and he didn’t want to traverse the unplowed road from the prison to the town in the dark even with four-wheel drive.

Dispelling ceremony once all signaled they were ready Jakobs merely said, “Come on, it’s getting late.”

They silently followed Jakobs but he was certain he heard muffled laughter as they passed the dead guards in the booths they had manned.

Once they reached the requisitioned police truck Jakobs ordered them to leave the suits on. “We have no food or anything to drink. We need to go in some of the stores and get supplies. These suits are uncomfortable but it is keeping you alive right now, so heed my words. Do not take them off until I say.” He paused a moment then added, “you get yourself sick and you kill us all. This is worse than I thought and you will see for yourselves soon enough. Everyone in that town down there is dead. I saw not one living thing. Watch out for animals, I don’t know if they are immune but they are feeding on the dead.”

No one spoke, Jakobs concentrated on driving. His five passengers were silent the entire ride, seemingly all in shock. One minute they had been condemned and waiting for death, the next they were free and their detractors were the ones who were dead.

They arrived at the town and Jakobs drove to the local grocery store. “Get only cans and jars, we have to pour bleach all over this stuff and these suits so we can get them off without infecting ourselves. Get everything that can be bleached.”

The men didn’t argue they obediently did what they were told. After twenty minutes there was a large pile of canned foods and a large assortment of jars. He then directed the men to a small dollar store and instructed them to each fill a grocery cart with bleach.

They used the bleach to douse all the food they had acquired and once finished he had them pour bleach all over each other’s suits until they were completely soaked. Jakobs began pulling off his suit and then the revolver he had in his belt was visible. The other men seemed nervous by this.

“Just relax; this is more for me than you. If I get this disease I am not going to die like these poor fools.” He motioned towards the doctor’s office where so many had died looking for help. This resolution seemed to quell the uneasiness in the men.

They walked to the hotel and by Jakobs orders stayed fifty feet apart. Once they arrived at the hotel Jakobs retrieved the shotgun from his room and used it to open five more doors. “If any of us is sick we will know by morning. I know you’re all hungry and thirsty. I will bring you something in a short while. Do not come out of your room and don’t lock the doors. In the morning we will know if we got out of there safely or not.”

Jakobs knew he was fine but couldn’t be sure about the rest. He would kill anyone who was sick, he wouldn’t risk them coming after him consumed with fever and madness.

For the first time one of the men spoke, “if I’m sick in the morning with this, shoot me man. I don’t want to die like that. Don’t say nothing just do it.” It had been the kid. Jakobs liked him even more. He’s matter of fact and to the point. Jakobs would have said the same thing had he not been the one with the gun. The other men exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated grumbled agreement.

Jakobs brought each man a bag of snacks and a few bottled waters telling them each to drink and eat slowly. He spent the night in the cruiser watching the doors of the five men as they slept. At eight in the morning a full twelve hours after they had arrived at the hotel Jakobs standing beside the cruiser blared the horn three long blows. He heard the men begin to stir. He yelled, “Open your doors but do not come out.” Each did as they were told, but Jakobs noticed it took one man far longer to comply than the others.

It was the man from three cells down. Jakobs knew very little about this man. He was always quiet. The man wobbled on his feet in the doorway and Jakobs was hesitant to get near. One by one he told each man who seemed healthy to walk over and stand by the cruiser. Lastly he came to the sick man. He had the slime Jakobs had noticed on all the bodies he had passed in the last few days caked to his killer’s jumpsuit.

Jakobs said nothing he quickly pulled the revolver from his belt and unceremoniously shot the sick man in the head. A few of the men seemed shocked but none said a word. They were alive because of this man and they owed him their loyalty. He had the power, they accepted this.

They didn’t reenter the rooms they had spent the night in. The six were now five. They were all healthy except for the remnants of dehydration and hunger sickness. They needed clothing, more vehicles, and they all needed to eat. They just had to be careful. They spent the next two days carefully gathering supplies and they settled on three vehicles. Jakobs liked being alone and let the other four men pair off how they wanted.

Each truck a requisition from a state services store yard had a CB and they were all four wheel drive with snow plows on them. Jakobs didn’t know much more about what had happened than they did but they all asked him numerous questions. He liked that they looked to him for guidance. He spoke to the kid more than the others but even that he kept limited.

He got the feeling the kid wasn’t quite right in the head. Considering what he’d been through Jakobs kind of felt bad for him. The others unnerved him a bit, this he never let show. He knew to turn his back on them if they were angry could prove to be a lasting mistake.

Jakobs didn’t care what they did or how they acted as long as none of them risked doing something stupid and getting them all infected. He did not care how another man acted or what he did; it was their own business as long as it did not negatively affect Jakobs or his property. He needed a wife and that’s all he was after. Once he had what he wanted he was going to disappear and start a new life somewhere deep in the woods.

They left the small town once they were sure they had what they needed. They would have to resupply. They quickly found an easier safer way other than risk getting sick from contaminated stores.

Where they were going no one knew. Jakobs led and they followed. Jakobs didn’t have a destination in mind. He was looking for a woman to make his new bride so they rambled. Jakobs always had his CB scanning in the hopes others would be using this older yet reliable form of communication.

They found a group of survivors three days into their travels. There were two men and a woman. Jakobs halted his group when they saw the campfire in the distance. Unsure if they had been noticed Jakobs said, “Listen up, the woman is mine.” A few of his band of killers looked disappointed but did not argue. “Follow my lead.”

By this point all of Jakobs’ men were armed. He felt it better this way. You never knew what was going to happen. They drove to within 100 feet of the stranger’s camp and all piled out guns drawn. The startled couple and their lone traveling companion were shocked. They too were armed but had no chance of reacting. They didn’t want to greet the only other survivors they had found with weapons.

Jakobs looked at the woman, not as young as he’d hoped for and asked, “how old are you?”

“This is my wife,” the man sitting beside her began to rise as he spoke.

“Just sit down there fella until I tell you, you can get up.” Jakobs spat.

“What do you want?” Asked the other man who was sitting on the opposite side of the campfire.

Jakobs still wore the uniform of a law enforcement officer and decided to use it to his advantage. “Look I’m asking the questions and it would be best if you cooperate.”

“Yes sir,” answered the frightened woman’s husband.

“How old are you mam?” Jakobs asked again. This time when he asked he somehow sounded more sweet and menacing at the same time.

“I am twenty-eight,” she stammered.

“Have you had children?” Jakobs could see her confusion and sadness as he asked this.

“Yes but I fear our children are dead.” She began to weep.

“Can you have more?” Jakobs asked bluntly.

“Just wait a minute,” blurted her husband.

For this he got the barrel of a shotgun put in his face.

“No!” She cried I can’t, my tubes were tied after our second child was born. She burst into fresh tears openly sobbing.

“Well damn, what good are ya then?” Jakobs blurted.

“Load up their supplies we leave in the morning.” Jakobs barked at his band of merry murderers.

Jakobs heard the woman’s screams during the night, he didn’t care it wasn’t his business. There were shots fired soon after he retired to the bed of his truck. He didn’t care about that either. A man’s business is his own. The last shot he heard roused him from his sleep and gave the poor woman peace. He quickly dozed back off.

He knew that some of his men probably should have been left in their cells to rot but he needed them. So he had set loose into the world those who killed and murdered for pleasure, but who was he to judge? It was people like the three they had encountered that sent him to die with the animals he now traveled with. So as far as he was concerned they had it coming.

They encountered other travelers with similar results. All the women they found were either too old or too young. Jakobs didn’t care either way what happened to them. He knew that if those they accosted were dead he didn’t have to worry about someone trying to track them for revenge.

They had been traveling quite a while when Jakobs started hearing lots of CB chatter. He overheard where some of the travelers were heading so he set out in that direction. He learned over the next day or so it was a larger group than they had ever encountered before so he knew they would have to use different tactics.

As they slowly followed, gradually catching up with these travelers he began to get a feel for his quarry. There were two men he heard the most, a man named Red and one named Alex. They seemed level headed enough but he knew they weren’t going to part with their women very easily.

 

 

 

 

Mark/Anna 14

 

Anna’s health had been steadily improving, but despite her objections Mark didn’t want to take her on the road just yet. He had ventured out of the park to get a sense of what was going on. The radio stations were now nothing more than static, even the emergency service loop had stopped playing.

Anna finally convinced him she was ok to travel seven days after she had arrived. Unknowingly, their timing was perfect all the infected were now dead. When Mark agreed he said, “tomorrow then.” And he smiled.

 

[The man was starving and severely dehydrated, he knew he would die if he didn‘t get food and water soon. He had listened to all the news he could find, for as long as it had been on. He had ran out of food three days earlier. He heard claims from more than one reporter that the disease may have been in the water. So he had lived off what he had in his apartment. He had collected all the ice in his freezer and melted it to drink. That also had ran out. He was in poor shape, he had been drinking liquor, and that only made his dehydration worse. He climbed down his fire escape drunk.]

 

Mark had ventured out of the park a few times on foot to see how things looked. He had to talk Anna into staying put. He knew her feet still pained her and he wanted her well before they left. After a few of these outings he decided  it was safe to take the four wheeler out and had gotten a few more supplies.

 

He saw horrific things he had kept from Anna. He came upon what appeared to have been a suicide, he was careful to steer clear of any bodies he saw, but had the person who jumped twenty stories, not been infected he still did not want to go any closer.  He nearly threw up in his helmet, getting the strap undone and his head free just in time.

 

He had gone to a drug store, smashed out the front windows leaving his gloves and helmet on carefully checking each isle and behind all the counters making sure there were no dead inside. He wasn’t sure if direct contact were necessary or if it was airborne. He had heard that it was both, depending on which reporter you listened to. Anna and him both were at a loss for the lack of real information the reports had given. They had listened to them until they stopped.

 

Mark had always heeded his father’s advice, and to be prepared was a biggie. He relished all his father had ever said, and would have given anything to hear one more line, one more tiny piece of advice. A single tear ran down his helmeted cheek, making him smile. “I love you Dad.” He said to the empty isles.

 

He spent a great deal of time in there, he meticulously went from isle to isle gathering anything that he could possibly need. He had so much stuff he knew he’d need something big to carry it all in. He stacked everything neatly near the entrance packed in book bags, he had found in the school supplies isle. He knew that now there were probably thousands of stores just like this all across America, and the world for that matter just waiting to be pillaged. He just smiled and thought, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. He wondered who he had heard say that, as he continued gathering supplies towards the front of the store.

 

There was enough food to last him and Anna on a trip around the globe. It was mostly canned and dried stuff that would dull the palate after a while he knew. Then again he figured it would be a while before the Olive Garden would be open again. He worked steadily, his mind wandered from this subject to that, sometimes he would tear up sometimes he smiled, but he was happy in his work.

 

When he was finished he doubted if he’d be able to carry all these things without the use of a truck, or even a large trailer. He had gotten a phone book and found a local ATV dealer and decided that would be their first stop on the way out of town.

 

“You know how to ride one of these?” Asked Mark as she climbed on behind him.

 

“A little, I would just need to be shown again and have a few minutes practice to get reacquainted.” She answered. Then added with a smirk, “so what you don’t like the way I smell?”

 

“Na sweetie, it’s not that,” he stammered believing her to have been serious then looked back at her grin. “Na, just didn’t want ya back there sniffing me, makes me uncomfortable.”

 

“Ha-ha, burn, you got me.” Her smile widened.

 

“Well I think we are gonna need more storage space, we have a lot of stuff to pick up.” He told her.

 

Mark had thought Anna may have questioned him for wanting to carry so much stuff, but instead had only said, that’s a good idea. “You were lucky there were no bodies in there.” Was all she had said.

 

Mark had told her briefly about all the dead people he had seen, and how they almost didn’t seem real. They were still very creepy all the same. He didn’t want it to be a complete shock to her as it had been for him. It’s one thing to hear about it on the radio, but to actually see so much death is overwhelming.

 

[The man stumbled to the nearest store he knew of, he was quite drunk, he had found the liquor in his neighbors freezer and had graciously helped himself. He doubled over dry heaving, and what little fluid, alcohol mostly, he had in his stomach came up. His body was wracked with dehydration cramps and all he could do was writhe on the ground until they passed. He made it to his feet, he kicked the bottle away and more slowly than before began to walk on towards the store.

 

He got to the store, and to his surprise the door was unlocked. The smell hit him before he was even through the door. He said aloud, “hello, anyone here?” There was no reply.

 

“Damn milk cooler must have warmed up, damn this place reeks.” The only thing that stopped him from diving on the first thing he saw and eating it was the smell. He grabbed a cupcake and walked to the drink cooler, they had been without power for several days, he didn’t mind if the drinks were warm, wet was wet. He drank two sports drinks and a Pepsi before vomiting on his shirt, he took it off wiped his mouth and threw it on the floor.

 

The shirt landed on a shoed foot, the foot belonged to the former proprietor who had caught the virus the first morning on his way to work, and had dropped dead of a heart attack that same evening. He had been in that same spot for a week. During which the store had been robbed once, attempted robbed three more times, anyone who watched the tape would have found it quite amusing. One person after the next walking in seeing the dead man, and that was their cue to take what they wanted.

 

The third person who saw him actually called the police on their cell phone before looting twenty cartons of cigarettes, and checking the empty cash register. His call hadn’t gotten through, but the caller had been infected checking the man’s pulse. He took death home to his three brothers, both his sisters, his Mom and his grandmother.

 

The man sat on the floor for a solid twenty minutes forcing down cookies and various drinks. Before he rose, he decided he needed a smoke. He went behind the counter and saw the register standing open and most of the cigarettes gone. He didn’t find his brand. “Beggars can’t be choosers .” He said in a practiced manner that told you he must have begged for most of his cigarettes in the pre-virus world.

 

It was as he lit his smoke he turned around to see the dead man, with his shirt laying on his left leg. “Damn I better get out of here.” He slurred, he grabbed a bag of food and some drinks stepping over the body in the process. “Glad I didn’t touch that dude.” he said aloud as he walked out.]

 

They left the park and he felt her tighten her grip when they passed the first cars with bodies in them. She never made a sound and after a few miles her grip loosened. He asked her if she needed to stop, but she had assured him she was fine.

 

It took them nearly an hour to get to the ATV dealer and Anna was noticeably uncomfortable. “You ok?” He asked.

 

“Just a bit sore, it will be easier when I have my own I think.” She felt so much love for him, he never missed a beat. This one’s a keeper she heard her mom say in her head, she smiled.

 

Mark broke the door open with a concrete planter he found by a nearby store front. After five tries the door finally yielded. Mark made Anna stay outside while he donned surgical gloves and a mask like the doctors he saw on TV. He searched the store thoroughly before giving Anna the ok to come inside, just for precautions she wore a mask and gloves as well.

 

“I’m going to look for the keys, they are probably in that office back there,” he pointed towards the rear of the store.  “Pick a nice set.” he added.

 

“You’re not taking your dad’s with us?” She asked, wishing she hadn’t no sooner than the words escaped her lips.

 

He saw her discomfort and smiled, “He would understand, she is getting old now, I need something I know will last a while.” Mark, knew it would hurt. It was the only thing he had with him that was his fathers, then he thought, that’s not true, I’m his. Mark supposed this meant he was maturing.

 

He found the keys all locked in a cabinet he had to yank on several times to get open, he was grateful they weren’t locked in a safe. He took the whole box out and saw Anna was trying to connect a trailer to the hitch on the back of a big Honda that was blue trimmed in pink, he smiled. He walked over and helped her.

 

“There’s a bigger trailer over there, and there’s yours, unless ya want a different one.“ It was a similar model Honda but it was yellow trimmed in blue. She had made nice choices; they were two of the biggest in the show room. He handed her the keys and she  found the proper keys for each. He brought over his trailer and connected it. There was a gas can in the shop area of the building he split the fuel between the two new 4 wheelers.

 

They went through the store gathering clothes, tools, extra tires, anything that they may need, they even took a fire extinguisher. This store was not solely an ATV store, it had camping gear, which they were not in need of, but grabbed a few extra sleeping bags anyway, just in case.  The store sold hunting rifles, as well as fishing equipment and they had even seen boats outback.

 

“Now for some protection.” Mark told Anna, who just looked at the wall of guns, Mark wasn’t sure what she was thinking  then she pointed to a very nice 270 equipped with a scope. “Nice choice, you know how to use it?” He asked.

 

“Daddy taught me, he believed that if you taught children gun safety when they are young, there would be no accidental shootings. He had several in the house, said people may not agree with his philosophy, but it worked for him.” She said.

 

“Your dad sounds like a smart man.” He saw tears wanting to fall from her eyes, speaking of her dad as if he were still alive. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, I tear up a lot these days when I think of him, I lost him before all this, but all this seemed to refresh the pain. I will be fine.” She sniffed once then the tears vanished.

 

They left the store after Anna had a few test runs around the parking lot. She got the feel for the 4 wheeler pretty quick. They went to the drug store where Mark had already sorted and stacked all the things they would need. Took them a half an hour to load all the stuff into the trailers. Then they headed back to their camp As they were leaving the drugstore he could have sworn he saw movement down the block, he glanced back, but whatever he had seen was gone.

 

When they arrived back at camp Anna dismissed herself to go bathe in the nearby lake, and Mark promised to have a nice fire built before she got back. She kissed his cheek and left.

 

[The man was sick, at first he thought it was from the liquor, but he hadn’t had a drink in hours, and he had been drinking juice nonstop since he left the store. For a while he let himself believe the Twinkies and other cakes he had eaten must have been spoiled. They hadn’t tasted spoiled he was sure of that. When he started spitting up the phlegm, the same color he had seen the people on the TV spitting up, he knew better. How did he get sick, it’s not right he thought.

 

He was walking down the street smoking cigarette after cigarette, with no real idea as to where he was going. He knew he was going to die, but wasn’t sure as to where he wanted to spend his last days. Then he heard something up the street, people talking. And one of them was a chick. He snuck up the street using stalled cars as cover, he saw them loading stuff out of the pharmacy and onto little 4 wheeler trailers.

 

“Now what the fuck are they doing?” He asked the bumper of the Miata in front of him with two dead passengers inside. He thought the boy had seen him as they drove away, but  evidently not. “They must be sick to, he was sure, why else were they getting stuff from a pharmacy?” He asked himself aloud.

 

He found a car dealership and broke in grabbing the keys to a brand new behemoth of a truck, big 4×4 with huge knobby tires. “May as well have some fun before I die.” He said as he pulled away from the dealership. He made his way back towards the drug store and drove in the direction they had gone, he had acquired more liquor and had been drinking freely for nearly an hour searching for the kids.

 

He was getting angry, and had trouble organizing his thoughts. He’d be trying to remember what street he was on and start thinking about his Mother and how he used to take her to the grocery store every Thursday, using the city bus as transportation. How she hated that and made sure him and everyone in earshot knew her son was a deadbeat and allowed his poor mother who did nothing but love him suffer at every turn.

 

He had been clipping cars, there was barely any room for such a vehicle in many places. So he made room. He thought I’m gonna ram that whore just like I’m ramming this truck through these cars.“ He coughed and spewed slime all down his shirt. His whole body felt on fire from the inside out. He continued on madly searching, raving more and more as he continued downing liquor, as the virus rapidly liquefied his organs]

 

Anna was down at the lake for so long Mark yelled to make sure she was ok, she had taken a lantern and he could see her shape in the darkness, silhouetted by the lights glare. She was lovely, even with all the bruises. She had yelled back that she was fine. She was just enjoying her freezing bath. He reminded her about the dangers of hypothermia. To this she had giggled, and thought, he loves me to.

 

He built a raging fire, and had begun repacking everything they didn’t need for the night. He had to use ropes to keep stuff from falling out of Anna’s trailer. He made sure it was water proof so nothing would get ruined if it began to rain on them. He had packed nearly everything into hers, with the exception of the extra sleeping bags and some tarps. He intended to stop somewhere and find as many gas cans as he could and he was gonna fill his trailer with fuel. Again he was trying to make it so they did not have to make many stops on their long journey. To where he wasn’t quite sure, but anywhere was better than here.

 

She returned clean and beautiful, he had never thought she was ugly even battered and bruised, he couldn’t look at her long without feeling warm all over. He in turn went to the lake and bathed, he yelled out when he walked out in the water, Anna replied with gales of laughter.

 

He came back a while later shivering, she had him come sit at the fire beside her and she handed him a warm cup of soup. He noticed in the firelight how tired she looked, he didn’t raise the issue of waiting again knowing she would argue against it. The day’s activities had worn her out. He was impressed at how hard she worked when they had work to do. She was not a prissy girl by any means, and he was grateful.

 

They got the fire to an acceptable size and went to sleep. A few hours later Mark was jerked from sleep with Anna shaking his shoulder. “Someone is coming.”

 

Mark could barely see her soft features in the tent with only a feint glow from the fire pit, but he could see enough to know she was terrified. “Get out of the tent and hide in the woods.”

 

Mark could clearly hear the trucks engine now, still a little ways from them, but definitely in the park. It sounded to him whoever it was, was playing with whatever they were driving. Then clearly over the sound of the engine in the distance he heard a gunshot. He had exited the tent right after Anna, and watched as she waited for him. “Please go over there behind those trees.” She obliged hesitantly not wanting to leave him alone.

 

He had taken down his table top barrier leaving them exposed because the weather had been getting warmer the last few days, this he regretted now. Whoever this is running through the park like a maniac shooting at God only knows what, is going to see the fire. He didn’t have time to put it out, so he went to where Anna had hid.

 

They heard more shots as the truck came closer, they could see the headlights now. It was obvious whoever this was knew they were there, he drove straight for them. He slammed on the brakes and the big truck slid right in front of the little camp they had shared for a week in peace. The peace was now broken.

 

The man climbed down from the cab waving what Mark believed was a 357 magnum, It was huge and looked just like the gun his dad’s favorite tough guy actor Clint Eastwood had used in several of the movies he had seen. In his other hand was a brand new bottle of Jack Daniels the seal hadn‘t even been broken. “Come on out fore I start shooting!” He demanded in his best cowboy accent, thinking he must look like a real outlaw.

 

He was deteriorating fast, becoming delusional, he had kept forgetting about the girl, and somehow the thought would pop back in his head and he’d continued looking. He had been driving back and forth up and down the same streets for nearly six hours till he noticed the park entrance. He had given up on finding them by then, until he saw the fire.

 

He aimed the pistol and shot three times into the tent, Anna and Mark sat silently. Mark could see the man better as he approached the tent, he thought grimly the only difference between this man and all those corpses he had seen today was the fact he was still moving.

 

He stumbled over to the tent and knelt down, he began cursing,” Sneaky fuckers, I should have known you’d hear the truck coming. No matter, come on out or I’ll make you wish you had!”

 

Anna’s weight shifted and there was a small crack as her foot snapped a twig in half. In the night it seemed amplified far louder than it could have possibly been. The dying man shot in the direction of the noise, the first slug slammed into a tree just in front of them, the second went wide and Mark would swear later he felt it as it passed. The third impacted the tree in front of them just as the first had.

 

“We need to do something fast before he reloads,” whispered Mark to Anna.

 

“I told you fuckers to come out, now you kids better do what you’re told.” He spat.

 

“Fuck you!” Anna said defiantly.

 

He aimed and fired, but the big gun only clicked, he had reloaded before getting out, but hadn’t counted his bullets. He stumbled back towards the truck the door was still open, He needed his bullets.

 

Mark was first out he had a twelve gauge he had taken on their shopping spree of the previous day. “Stop right where you’re at!” He demanded.

 

The man turned and laughed, he sounded like an dying hyena. Mark stood his ground. “Kid I am gonna kill you if you don’t put that gun down, killing people ain’t as easy as ya think it is.” He continued again towards the truck.

 

“I said stop you son of a bitch, or I will kill you, your dead anyway, why are you messing with us?” Mark was getting the feeling he had when he realized Roger wasn’t going to stop that night, only a week past, but it seemed more like years.

 

“You’re gonna die to, all I want is to have a little fun with the little misses.” He grinned. He looked like a grotesque skeleton, green slime on his chin, the front of his chest was covered in the same. Mark couldn’t understand how he was still moving.

 

“I am sorry you’re sick but if you take one more step I am gonna blow you in half. You don’t have to believe I will, for it to happen.” Mark meant it, and had every intention.

 

“I stayed in my apartment for days, they said it was in the water, so I starved myself and had nothing to drink for days, That means if I’m sick you have to be sick to. Now boy I ain’t gonna tell ya again, I’m gonna have my way with that girl or you’re gonna die you hard headed fuck.” He smirked and turned to keep walking.

 

“Anna sweetie don’t look,” The man heard Mark say, and as he realized maybe this kid wasn’t bluffing, his face froze in fear. Mark fired both barrels; he nearly fell backwards from the duel kick of the massive gun.

 

The man’s body, minus the chest, slammed into the grill of the truck his Jack Daniels bottle bouncing out of his hand, it hit a rock and shattered splashing Marks hand and face.

 

“Oh shit I got his blood on me!” Mark screamed.

 

Anna was there beside him, and asked. “Where, oh no, where, I don’t see anything.”

 

“On my face and my hand,” he raised his hand, and she was examining his face. He couldn’t see anything on his hand.

 

Anna came close to him and sniffed, she smiled which almost made Mark scream at her. “Calm down, it’s just liquor. When the bottle broke it splashed you.” He smelled his own hand and sighed.

 

Anna looked at Mark and said, “I love you.“

 

Mark replied, “I love you to, I will never let anything happen to you I have the ability to stop.“ Then they kissed. They got on their 4 wheelers, and left everything that wasn’t already packed, their journey had begun.

Eulogy Post VIII

      blue skull

Anna/Mark 12

     The battered girl stumbled through the woods with tears in her eyes. She cried for the loss of her savior, she cried for the guilt she felt at being alive when so many others were dead. As far as she knew she was the only person to get out of the reformatory alive. She was right.

She didn’t even know the name of the man who had set her free. She was very confused, how long had she been in that cell? She couldn’t answer, she had nearly died there, The only human contact she had had for a month had been her captors and one other. The blurry image from her memories the one who had  fed her and tried to nurse her back to health. “But who were you?” She whispered.

All she knew was that she was supposed to be dead, but somehow she wasn’t.

She couldn’t gather her thoughts. She was starving, dehydrated, and freezing. She was nearly naked in the middle of the woods somewhere outside of Pittsburgh.  The last year was like a twisted nightmare.

“A disease,” she was barely audible to herself. The man who set her free had said there was a disease. Anna couldn’t be sure if he said that or if she had dreamt it.

“He said I’m alive for a reason,”  she told the silent trees. She was all but naked, save the tattered and torn gown. She had no socks, no shows, and no panties. In her mind she heard, “Whores don’t wear panties!” Who had said that she wondered, it was so hard to remember. She knew she had been raped, on numerous occasions, but couldn’t even remember who had done it. Why was it so hard to remember?

She continued on feverishly mumbling to herself, not knowing where she was or where she was going. She continued on until she heard the crackling of a fire. The terror of this unexpected noise brought her out of her daze.

She was almost relieved, they had found her, now they would kill her. She waited for what seemed like an eternity. She had no idea how long ago she had left that place, nor did she know how far she had walked. Her feet were numb stabbing at her ankles like dull razors. Her entire body ached, she prayed her misery soon would be over.

Still she heard the fire crackling and popping, the sound was so inviting. She decided to get a closer look. Nearly a hundred feet away she could just make out the little tent beside the dying fire. Needing the heat she crept closer.

“Hello,” in little more than a whisper she said as she approached the fire.

She saw movement from inside the tent. “Who’s out there?”

“I need help,” she wheezed.

“Are you a cop?” Asked the startled voice.

“No please help me.” The girl cried and fell to her knees.

Mark popped his head out of the tent, still wiping sleep from his eyes. He almost didn’t see the half-naked girl, “what, what happened to you?” Then he added, “you’re not infected are you?” Mark retreated back a little.

“No, I think I have a fever, I have been out here like this for nearly two days. I think I have anyway,I’m not real sure how long. “Please I am freezing.”

Mark snapped out of the trance he had fallen in, wondering would something like this have ever happened had it not been for the virus. “One second,” he said and crawled back into the tent. He exited a few minutes later, there was now light spilling out, he told her to go in and put on the clothes he had put out for her.

She did as she was told, it took her quite a while to get dressed, while she was inside Mark had built the fire up really high. She came out and sat by the fire, he brought her water from behind the tent, then went about making her some soup.

“Thank you,” she said then lost consciousness. Anna nearly fell forward into the fire. She would have had Mark not seen that it was about to happen. He grabbed her by the back of the coat he had given her and halted her forward momentum.  He carried her to the tent,  got her inside, and checked her pulse it was weak, but steady.

Mark spent the next two days feeding her broth, and aspirin, her fever finally broke the middle of the second day. He was glad to have someone with him, but the dreams she had made her scream, a blood curdling scream. Hearing it for the first time mark peed on himself just a little, he had been asleep at the time. He had to wake her to make her eat, she seemed to sleep almost endlessly. Mark thought that if he weren’t here to do this she would never wake up at all.

He got in the habit of building multiple fires and had scavenged up enough wood and branches, by destroying 10 picnic tables to build a windshield encircling the tent. He then built his fires inside this block he had built to keep her warm. He had barely slept since the night she had arrived. Afraid she would turn for the worse when he wasn’t watching, or possibly setting the tent on fire.

Two days after her fever broke she startled him by saying. “You look like you could use some sleep pal.”

“Oh geez you scared the hell out of me.” Answered mark startled.

“Sorry, that’s a hell of a way to treat my host.” She blushed, then added. “My name is Anna.”

“My name is Mark, pleased to meet ya, how are you feeling?” He asked as he stuck a thermometer in her mouth and grabbed her wrist to take her pulse.

“I’m a bit tired, feel like I have been laying down for months, my legs are sore as hell, I must have walked a hundred miles.” She answered, with the thermometer hanging out of her mouth.

She noticed her feet were bandaged, “they were a bit rough when you got here, I should have checked them first thing. Sorry.” Mark said shame faced.

“Don’t be sorry, you saved my life, I was on the verge of collapsing when I found your camp.” She told him sincerely.

Mark blushed at this.

“How long was I out for? Feels like I slept a whole day.” She inquired.

“Well you‘ve been out the better part of four days.” He stifled a yawn as he answered.

“Oh my god, so you’ve been taking care of me all this time?” She had tears in her eyes.

“I know this may not sound very brave, but I was scared to death for you. You were running a high fever for the first two days. I was waking you to feed you broth, and dissolving aspirin in water to break the fever. I’m afraid you are still terribly dehydrated and malnourished, here.” he handed her a Gatorade and two vitamins. “Take these.”

She looked at him in amazement, it made him feel a bit uncomfortable. “You’re my hero, thank you just doesn’t seem good enough, but it’s all I can do for now.”

“You are more than welcome,” he said, again stifling a big yawn.

She drank the Gatorade a bit too fast and had to run out of the tent to throw up. Mark ran out behind her scared she was not out of the woods yet. “It’s ok, I just drank it too fast, I am ok, just hungry.”

He walked behind the tent and to her surprise there was a second tent he had been using as a mini storage building. It was full of food and camping gear. He grabbed four kinds of soup, and a can of beef stew, crackers, bread.

“What you in the mood for?” He asked, he saw her smiling showing a brief glimpse of the girl she had once been. He returned his own battered smile in return.

“Beef stew please sir.” She giggled.

They were both still feeling the pain of what physically and mentally had been done to them, but they were both alive and that was what mattered. She helped with the fire despite Marks protests. She had a bit of trouble walking, but she felt better than she had in months. Just when she was sure she was dead the kindness of two complete strangers changed everything. She had a whole new perspective on life, and no matter what came her way she was going to enjoy it.

She ate more than Mark could have hoped for. He redressed her feet and they looked bad. Having her conscious he was as gentle as he could possibly be. He ate well himself and they took a long nap.

They spent the next five days telling each other their stories They shared each other’s pain and joy and fell fast and deeply in love. Theirs was a nonphysical relationship. Anna had never known the touch of a man in any other form than brutality.

They were joined together beyond any earthly bonds. He had saved her in the quite literal sense, but she had saved him as well from the loneliness he had felt since his father’s death. Mark felt she had done the greater deed.

Eulogy Post VII

newskull

Alex 11

 

Alex couldn’t bear staying the night at that store, so he packed his gear into the car that had belonged to the poor woman who had died so gruesomely at the hands of that vile man. He fueled it up and decided to drive it as far as he could go with it.

He had to leave the road more than once avoiding wrecks and nearly got it stuck more than a few times. He knew that in the event of rain he would be screwed. Using a map he took from Fred’s store he made his way to Burlington. He was not in much of a hurry, knowing to speed on roads where people had spontaneously died while driving would be a hazardous endeavor at best. He took many back roads hoping to avoid major traffic blockages. It began raining early the next day so he parked and slept in the car in a Glen Raven strip mall. The wind blew eerily, howling as it rocked the old Buick. It frightened him out of his sleep.

He had the rifle in his hands before his eyes were fully open. The rain was pounding the car in sheets. He had no choice but to just sit there. There was no hope in traveling in this, with the roads blocked as they were. He smoked cigarette after cigarette, trying to keep his nerves calm. He tried to ignore the memories from the previous day as best he could.

On any other day the rain would have calmed his nerves, but he could see out in the street the vague shapes in the rain, iron monoliths in an asphalt landscape, housing the bones of the dead. He felt pity, sorrow, guilt, shame, hate, fear, pain, and he felt responsible. Hadn’t he always known something like this would happen? How many times did visions of vast wastelands strewn with the bodies of the dead, enter his head as he watched the evening news.

Then it occurred to him that he was being foolish. Who would have listened to me? The wonder mental patient says the world’s gonna end if we don’t hear him out. He could imagine the padded room he’d be put in. Then another haunting thought entered his head. He saw himself disease riddled dead in that same padded cell. When they realize you’re right, you still have to die, they deny you exist, cover you up with dirt and move on to the next problem they need to bury.

He felt he would go mad if this rain didn’t end soon, he needed to be moving. It’s the only thing that helps him now, as long as he is moving he can believe he is getting away from this mad place the world has become. He started drinking beer after beer in the hopes that he could pass out and sleep straight through till the next day.

He was running through a field holding a rifle, he noticed it was a soldiers uniform he wore. How he had gotten here he did not know. There were other soldiers around him, he knew this, but they were to his left and right, just out of sight. He couldn’t even spare a glance at his brothers in arms, the goal was straight ahead.

The smells in this place were nauseating, but he was immune, he had been here a long time, he knew not why, but he had a job to do. Soldiers don’t question orders; they just obey. He then thought and then they die. He can hear the footfalls of his allies all around him growing fainter and fewer as he went. There was no sound in this place other than the footsteps. He saw silent explosions all around him, tracer bullets whipping by him in all directions, some from behind, some from ahead, and from both flanks.

“What kind of hell am I in?” He asked silently.

The explosions of light began to trickle to nothing, and he noticed he could no longer hear the footfalls of his comrades. His rifle was warm and heavy in his hands, his muscles were tense, he began firing at shapes in the distance, this was his target the time was at hand, even if all the rest of his platoon was dead or running away he had a job to do.

He shot till he saw no more enemies in the darkness, he approached slowly ready for a reprisal, but none came. It felt as if he walked for days just to cover this little battlefield. He thought the area was vaguely familiar, but just couldn’t place it. The time came and finally he was upon his prey.

He knelt down beside the first body he came to, the man was on his stomach, the back of his head gone, he appeared fake somehow, Alex rolled him over and  he screamed till he felt his throat would shred itself, but still it was silent in this place as he stared into his own dead eyes.

He heard footsteps approaching, from all around, he snapped out of his shock at seeing he had killed himself. He saw then these were not soldiers. They were just people, dead rotting people and they were all there for him. He saw himself brainless and dead rise from the ground and join the ranks of the undead encircling him. He no longer tried to scream, he had no strength left, they all moved as one to devour him.

He woke, a scream stuck in his throat, still drunk, he had not been asleep more than an hour. He was in a complete panic. The rain had not let up even a little in the hour, if anything it was coming down harder, he cranked the car sure the dead had followed him out of his dream. It was almost full dark now, visibility was no more than thirty feet. He came out of the parking lot sideways clipping a Pontiac that was stalled in the street, but he never slowed his pace. He was doing eighty when he went through the first intersection. Luckily it was not completely blocked. He threaded that needle with his twenty five hundred pound bullet like an old pro.

He made it three miles bouncing off cars, sometimes hitting the curbs to avoid pileups. The car was straining to keep up with his break neck pace through this rain soaked maze. Then finally he came upon a roadblock he just didn’t have room to navigate. He clipped the rear bumper of a large truck causing him to spin out of control. He slid sideways into a curb exploding both drivers side tires and causing him to smash the driver’s side window with his head, rendering him unconscious. The car did a complete 180 and struck the side of a building, where it came to an abrupt stop. He lay motionless mashed into the floor board. His blood flowed unchecked from a gash on his head.

He woke hours later, he couldn’t tell whether the pain in his head was from the wound, or if it was the beer he had drunk. His neck was stiff and he noticed he had broken three fingers on his left hand, these he taped together. He was afraid they may never work the same again without being properly set. He surveyed the wreck, astonished he himself wasn’t dead. The blood had clotted and although he lost a bit, he was fine, only mildly dizzy.

He was a tough man, and growing more so by the day. He left the car and all his things and began walking. It was dark, maybe three or four in the morning he wasn’t sure, he had lost his watch at some point. He found a used car dealership nearby broke the window to the office with a brick he found lining a little flower bed at the edge of the lot.

It took him a while to find the keys in the dark, the power was out here now, and would probably never be back on again he thought grimly. He took an old Ford Bronco, he knew that given the choice between it and one of those large full sized 4X4’s he’d always op for the Bronco.

A friend of his had one years ago, and had once told him they are hard to get stuck. So they got drunk and tried it. He wondered where his friends were and how they had died. He hoped that they had survived, but with each passing day his hope was fading and despair had set in. That feeling of despair was slowly changing into something else. He was beginning to fear loneliness as much as the thought of being attacked by an army of the dead.

“What’s happening to me?” He asked the darkness. “I executed a man yesterday, yeah he deserved it, but my God, who am I?” He added to his query.

He couldn’t understand how he couldn‘t feel the slightest bit remorseful for killing the old man. It bothered him so bad, because he was ok about it. He, who couldn’t even now, bring himself to litter. He thought of movies he had seen where someone with a random mental disorder was put in a crisis situation and ended up losing it and murdering people. He didn’t feel like a murderer. No, the man had been a murderer.

He remembered going to church as a child with his parents and learning the Ten Commandments. He had most definitely smashed one all to hell. He prayed aloud, “God please forgive me for what I did, but I don’t feel sorry.”

He went back to the crash, gathered his things from the battered vehicle and felt a lump rise in his chest when he saw the toys that had belonged to that beautiful little girl. What her name had been, he wondered. It suddenly became very important for him to know. He tore the car apart looking under the seats, several times hitting his injured hand, he ignored this. The pain seemed a faraway memory.

He had searched the car thoroughly but found only a piece of mail with what he assumed was the mother’s name. Sarah. He checked the trunk last and just when he was about to give up hope he found a children’s book. It was inside a little girls purse, the book appeared well read and worn. He opened it and inside it said:

     To Keira, our sweet little angel, on her second birthday. Love Mommy and Daddy.

He saw where she had colored on some of the pages, not random scribbles as he first thought. She had been trying to copy the words. As he progressed page by page the words she had written became more and more legible. He cried silently as he read on. He had never heard of the author, but it was a sweet book about sharing, told through the eyes of little Sugar Gliders, the illustrations were top rate. After finishing the book he tucked it away into his bag. “Well Keira sweetie I hope you don’t mind, but I want to hold onto this a while.”

He found a nice place to park in the front lawn of an enormous house, which seemed out of place in this little town. He pulled under a weeping willow tree and slept soundly for over ten hours. He ached when he woke, “Bronco’s may be wonderful off road vehicles, but they make crappy bedrooms.” He said.

He noticed almost at once how bad he had begun to smell, he relieved himself behind a bush in this nice big yard, he felt silly hiding. Who would see him? But yet he hid all the same. He had brought toiletries from his house, he used bottled water to brush his teeth, but was desperately in need of a shower.

He tried the outside faucets then remembered the power was out. Then he walked around the house and saw this house had a swimming pool, it was covered still for the winter, he pulled the cover back and saw it was still filled and relatively clean. He ran back to the bronco grabbed his soap and shampoo, he knew it was gonna be cold, but figured the chlorine would be good for cleaning the gash on his head, painful yes, but still helpful.

He cleaned the gash as best as he could without starting it bleeding again, he soaked it in the chlorinated water, it was cold and his head ached, but it felt wonderful, he thought it was the best bath he’d ever had in his life.

He bandaged his head using the first aid kit from John’s camping supplies. He was amazed at how good he felt, the world was dead and he felt great. The old feelings of guilt started creeping in, and aloud he admonished himself. “Fuck that, you dick you’re not gonna feel bad for being alive.” At his command the guilt faded.

He wandered around Burlington, still looking for survivors, but still as before, had no luck. He was looking around thinking of all the places he liked to go with his parents. He remembered the little air field used for RC planes that was beside where the old Lowes had been. Then it popped into his head, just down the street from there was an armory.

He turned around haphazardly, well not so much anymore when there are no other drivers on the road. As long as he didn’t hit any parked cars and the rain didn’t come back it would be smooth sailing.

He found the armory just as he had remembered it, a large fenced parking lot with a large decommissioned artillery cannon in the front. The building was plain and aside from the cannon had no other remarkable attributes. The fence was locked, he attached the Bronco’s wench to the chain and threw it in reverse, and he was stuck in a game of tug of war with this big fence. It finally gave, not the chain or the lock, but the gate hinges gave way with a loud crash.

There were eleven different military vehicles here and a few passenger cars. He prayed the owners were not inside rotting for him to stumble across. He looked over one of the largest vehicles he saw, it was a six wheeled drive vehicle he had heard referred to as a five ton. This was what he wanted. He looked at the little Bronco and said, “sorry old girl, you have been out classed.”

He walked towards the building surveying the doors, there was a steel door solidly locked. Even with all his strength he couldn’t make it budge. He went back to the bronco and found a crow bar. It was rough going trying to pry the door, with his injured hand. After a half hour of cursing and a few scraped knuckles, he opted to try the bay doors. They too were solidly built and he couldn’t budge them. He was growing increasingly aggravated, he didn’t know what he expected to be inside, but he felt the need to check. He emptied his gear from the Bronco and slowly backed up to the door at an angled, trying to force the door in with the rear bumper.

He felt the door begin to give. He stopped pulled forward and got out to check his progress, the door was not giving, but he saw the block around it was cracking. This time he put the Bronco in four wheeled drive and hit the door at maybe 5 miles an hour, the thud jolted his entire body rattling his teeth. The block cracked a bit more. He looked and saw blackness through the left side of the door way, just a bit more, one or two more thumps ought to do it he thought.

He got back in and repeated this several times, cursing the fact he couldn’t get the door open. He had in fact made a large enough hole to get the wench cable through, he tried winching the door back out, twice the cable came free flying at the Bronco one attempt had cost him a headlight, another had caused the heavy steel hook at the end to smash the windshield. His progress was slow and he was on the verge of giving up when he remembered the heavy equipment rental place about two miles away. He drove there smashed out the glass in the office door and found the keys to a Caterpillar bulldozer, he smiled. “This is going to be fun.” He spoke to the collection of oversized Tonka Toys.

It took him a while to get the monster started, even longer to figure out what all the controls were and how they worked. He had once driven a much smaller version of one of these, so it wasn’t too long before he was plowing down the street at a nerve wracking five miles an hour. He slowly made his way back towards the armory. He drive right up to one of the large bay doors, the bull dozer tore through the metal like a hot knife through butter. He reversed out and shut down the behemoth.

He grabbed a flashlight and crept slowly inside. He first felt relief because the air stale as it was did not have the smell of death in it. Had he smelled anything he would not be able to go in for fear of getting infected by a corps.

He immediately saw why he wasn’t able to get in, they had barricaded the doors. Upon realizing this he began jerking the flashlight around the room to see if he were about to be killed for breaking into a government building. In the corner he saw a man in a white hazmat suit. Assault rifle by his side, he did not move or even acknowledge he had been found.

“Hey buddy you ok?” Asked Alex thinking maybe he was just asleep. Then dismissing that thought, only a deaf man could sleep through all the noise he’d just made.

There was no answer, Alex came closer, and saw through the face mask this man had died like all the others. At some point he had donned this suit and barricaded this place believing it would save him.

“I guess any hope is better than no hope at all.” Alex said to the dead man.

He looked around and saw why he couldn’t get the doors open, the dead man had driven several jeeps inside and had parked one just inside each of the doors. Alex continued through the building careful as he entered rooms, and turned corners. The dead man was the only body he found.

In a large plain room with shiny concrete floors he found what he had hoped he would. There were guns, lots and lots of guns. There were hundreds of cases of ammunition, crates of grenades, all sorts of things he didn’t know anything about.  He spent the rest of the day loading one of the large trucks, with everything he could lift. He had enough to fight a small war if needed.  He found cases of MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) his buddies dad had bought these at the PX for camping trips when he was a kid, they weren’t gourmet, but they were actually pretty good. He made sure he got all of these, he wanted to be prepared.

He camped that night in the parking lot of the armory, built a nice fire and spent hours using the CB radio in the truck. Just before he logged off he was sure he heard a voice in the static, he was tired so he wasn’t sure if it were real or imagined. By the time sleep took him he was convinced he’d imagined it.

Eulogy Post VI

blue skull

Mark 9

Mark woke in an ambulance listening to all the commotion around him, he didn’t open his eyes. He was recounting the events of this evening. Had it all been a dream? He felt groggy and he hurt all over. The pain in his head had only increased. He saw that he was now shirtless, with a long bandage across his chest. His nose was a blazing inferno seemingly consuming the face around it.

“Did you hear that recording the kid made?” Asked one officer to another man, who must have been a detective judging by the suit he was wearing. The officer seemed agitated like he didn’t want to be there, and was just trying to make conversation to pass the time.

“No, what you got? I just arrived on scene, this place is a madhouse. I was in the area, and heard the call, I just stopped to see if I could be of some help.” The man answered.

“It seems the kid here caught his Mother and Stepfather planning to kill him on tape. The kicker is he got his mom to willingly confess, I dunno if that will be admissible, she is half unconscious on God knows how many pills. She also admitted to planning her late husband’s murder, but claimed that he died in an accident before they had the chance. Also some stuff about them embezzling money from her late husband’s company.” The officer paused trying to remember what else he had heard.

“What about the kid, does it look like self-defense?” The detective asked.

“Looks like it, but the kids in shock, he didn’t say much when the first officers on scene arrived, handed them the CD and passed out. He‘s been out about two hours.” He answered.

“Why in the hell is he still here and not at the hospital, he looks terrible?” The detective asked, as he turned to survey the boy in the ambulance with great curiosity.

“Look you didn’t hear this from me, there is some kind of outbreak at County, and the Regional Medical center is reporting cases now. Whole damn place is locked down. National Guard is on the way in.” Solemnly spoke the officer.

“What do you mean, what is it?” Asked the detective, Mark could hear a slight change in his voice, and it bothered him.

“They dunno, but the rumor is, it is something real bad, as in something they can’t fix.” The officer’s agitation was growing more obvious with every word. This troubled Mark.

Mark thought a moment, that’s not agitation, that’s fear. Mark knew fear.

The detective even seemed to be moved by the changes in the officer’s voice. “Hey Sal, I’ve known you lots of years and I haven’t ever seen you this shook before, your starting to worry me.”

“Ted this is between you and me, I could lose my pension over this. You know my sister in law, Eva, is dispatch supervisor, well she called me and told me maybe I should call off today. “He paused a moment gathering his thoughts.

“Yeah I know Eva, you know that, she and my wife are friends, you know that Sal.” The detective knew weather the rumors were true or not, Sal believed them to be.

“Yeah Ted, I dunno, my minds been running all over the place since I talked to her today.” He answered.

“Maybe you should take some time off, take a vacation.” The detective offered.

“That’s just it, from what Eva told me, we might all be taking a vacation, but not willingly.” He stammered.

“Come on now Sal, you’re starting to worry me man, it can’t be that bad, whatever it is the government will step in and fix it.” He was looking at his old friend with great concern.

“Eva said the day started out normal, but by 5pm the phones were ringing off the hook, they didn’t have enough drivers or EMT’s to handle the calls. Thing is all that aside, one of the EMT’s been working in this county twenty years, man named Gerald. He’s fifty seven, picture of health, this guy. Eva says he is in better shape than most of the twenty-something’s they got on the crews. Well he came on duty this morning, she saw him, and he was perfectly fine as always. He came by dispatch at lunchtime like he sometimes does, unless calls have him busy. Well Eva said he looked bad, like he had aged twenty years in four hours.

She said it is the first time in her fifteen years she ever heard him say he didn’t feel well. He tried eating his lunch, but he got sick. She advised him to take the rest of the day off, he refused, didn’t want to leave the rest of the guys in the lurch. Well she says his partner called in saying that he was gonna have to take Gerald to the hospital, he had collapsed on a call and he couldn’t get him revived.” He had to pause; the words seemed to be hurting him.

“Well Sal, they figure out what was wrong with him, he ok now?” The detective asked. He hadn’t so much as blinked while hearing this story.

“He was dead by 4pm, and he died from whatever it is they have the quarantine set up for.” He was shaking, speaking the truth and trying to deny the facts in his own head.

“My God man, why hasn’t there been an alert put out?” Ted demanded.

“That’s just it, a fed came to dispatch and ordered them to not breathe a word of what was going on to anyone, they said if the story leaked the person who did so would be charged with treason. They gave them a list of symptoms, and anyone calling with any of those symptoms were to be reported directly to them, and that was it, no more sending out ambulances.” The officer seemed to be on the verge of a panic attack.

“My God Sal, this is either a terrorist attack, or somebody was playing with the wrong test tube somewhere. Why in God’s name would they hide this from the public?” He demanded to no one but the early morning sky.

“I spoke with Eva an hour ago, she and everyone else who came in contact with Gerald are all sick.” The tears in his eyes seemed to be lost; they didn’t belong on this man’s face, a man who had seen so many years in the line of duty.

They didn’t notice when Mark slipped out the side door of the ambulance and into the darkness. He was already in the garage at the rear of the house before the alarm was raised. He was grateful for the police and although he came across as someone who disrespected authority, he truly didn’t. He verbally attacked anyone online he saw talking bad about cops. He would go on long rants about how if they had ever been beaten, raped, or robbed, they would change their tune, but this usually fell on deaf ears.

His true fear was of the government, his mother had seen him in terrorist chat rooms; she saw his fear as he watched the news. She’d laughed and said, “Your just paranoid, stuff like that doesn’t happen here, those bombings were a fluke, we are perfectly safe now.” How foolish she had been.

Mark had been an avid reader since his early child hood. He had read so many books but whenever something happened he could almost always relate it to a child’s story he had read at one time or another. This situation reminded him of the story about a grasshopper and an ant he had read so long ago he had forgotten the title; he pondered this as he grabbed his back pack he had stored in the garage and jumped on his father’s favorite 4 wheeler. How he had loved riding with him when he was small.

The grasshopper he saw as America, the ants were who ever had done this, “terrorists” if that’s what you want to call them, pretty general term to use he thought. The grasshopper spent all it’s time playing in the sun never concerned with the oncoming winter, he laughed at the poor ant who worked all day getting ready for what was to come. The grasshopper ate when he was hungry, he napped when he was sleepy, but all the while the diligent ant kept right on working.

Then the inevitable happened, winter came and the grasshopper was cold, hungry, and had no place to live that was safe. Luckily for the grasshopper in the story the ant was a nice guy; he gave him food and shelter.

He hit the button to open the garage door. The door was barely high enough to clear the handle bars when he shot out into the night. With a flash he was gone, they had no chance of catching him, he had been planning his escape route for over a year now, he knew that when he turned 18 he would have access to his trust fund and had been taking money slowly but surely from the safe in his dad’s office. He had just over five thousand dollars in his bag, and a few changes of clothing. They had never expected him. Roger would often be piss drunk when he’d take money out of the safe and he spent it like he was printing it. He never actually paid attention to how much was in there.

He knew the place like the back of his hand, there were large estates, he didn’t have to cross many streets, he was taking the extremely long way to avoid running into the police. It took him over two hours to reach the park he and his father had spent so many summer nights in camping, he choked up as he saw the place.

Dawn was quickly approaching and he had made it, he hid in the deepest part of the park he could find, covered the 4 wheeler with branches pulled his bedroll out of his back pack curled up and fell fast asleep. The only thought in his head before he fell asleep was, How nice are these ants gonna be?

He dreamt of his father, they were riding slowly around the back yard on his 4 wheeler, he saw himself laughing unabashedly, the way only a happy child can. He smiled in his sleep.

He woke around 11am that morning. He walked out of the park, it took him nearly an hour to get to a pay phone, where he called a taxi, then thinking of the ambulance driver called right back and cancelled it. He would have to walk, or find a bike. He walked nearly a mile and he saw sitting in someone’s yard a 10 speed, he wrote a note on a small slip of paper he had in his pocket. I needed your bike, was all it said, he folded two one hundred dollar bills into it and placed the note in the mailbox. He never knew, the note was never read, and the money was never spent.

He thought it odd that there was so little traffic, he guessed maybe there had been a warning at last, and people were staying home. The disease spread far faster than anyone could have guessed; Mark tried not to think of the repercussions. He just wanted to get some supplies and go back and wait till whatever this was blew over.

He had ridden six miles when he found the store his father used to bring him to for camping gear. He had been worried it wouldn’t be there or would be closed, Lucky for him it was, the owner lived upstairs. He went inside and began grabbing things he needed, he had nearly fifty lbs. of stuff before he was finished, insulated coveralls, long johns, several pairs of boots, 4 large packs of insulated socks, cooking utensils, a new larger pack, tent, sleeping bag, and a fishing pole and a small foldable fishing kit with lures, pliers, sinkers, flies, and hooks, pretty much a bit of everything.

The proprietor, an elderly gentleman said, “I remember you son, haven’t seen your or you dad in a long time. Over two years if it’s been a day.” He was smiling warmly at the pile of things Mark had assembled.

“Yes sir, my father died in a wreck a few weeks after we were last in here.” He was remembering as he spoke, tears stung his eyes thinking of their last camping trip.

“Well son I am sorry as I can be, your dad was a good boy,” said the old man sympathetically, Mark thought it funny how the old man had referred to his father as a ‘good boy’.

“Thank you, he loved this store.” Mark said politely.

“You know I guess your dad was about your age first time he came in here, he was buying a sleeping bag so he could go fool around with some young lady I imagine, but he kept coming back after.” The old man reminisced with a smile trying to cheer the boy.

Mark vaguely remembered his dad telling him about coming here since he was a boy, it never occurred to Mark the same man had ran it all these years. Mark started talking with the old man about their camping trips and things they had done. It felt good to talk about his dad with someone friendly. It lifted his spirits considerably.

The old man after a while looked at him more seriously, “now you don’t have to tell me son, but for your father’s sake I feel I need to ask, why you buying all this stuff, you running away, are you in some kind of trouble?”

Mark simply answered, “Yes sir.”

The old man, looked at him a moment then added, “Well I ain’t no rat, so I won’t be calling the law on ya.”

Mark liked the old man, and he needed to tell someone what happened, a kind ear to vent to, so he told him everything that had happened the day before. He had one of the CD’s still, but the old man didn’t have anything to listen to it on. It took him nearly thirty minutes to get it all out, at times he began to cry the old man gave him his dignity and found something interesting on his shoe to look at during these times.

The old man had listened to everything he had to say and decided the boy was not trying to pull his chain. He looked stricken when Mark had relayed the conversation that took place between the two police officers. “I thought something funny was going on, now mind you I don’t do much business during the week and all, but cars still drive up and down this street quite regular. Hasn’t been 10 cars passed this morning, half of which were police cars.

The old man came out from behind his counter and started grabbing things handing them to the boy, “take this stuff out to my truck parked just there.” he pointed to an old jeep pickup half rusted through parked on the curb just in front of the store.

The boy did as he was told. By the time he was through, the bed of the truck was nearly full. Finally he asked, “what’s all this for?”

“Son this is for you, can’t have you sitting out in the woods doing without, wouldn’t be Christian of me.

“I have money,” he tried to say.

“If it’s finally happened son, money isn’t gonna do nobody any good.” The old man gravely spoke. “Some of it’s for me, my boy’s in Iraq, and his wife and my grandbabies are all sitting alone in North Carolina, I’m heading that way after I drop you off.

They didn’t talk much, the old man drove right into the park and into the woods where Mark directed him to his little camp site. When all that he had given Mark was unloaded he said, “Listen son, you’re a smart feller, and I owe you a lot for telling me what ya have, It’s my own fault I got so tired of waiting on the news to tell me we were under attack I just stopped watching. Maybe I have enough time to get to them. Your Daddy would be proud of you boy, you keep that in mind. You stay right out here in these woods till that radio says it’s safe.”

“Thank you sir, I don’t know how I can repay you.” Mark returned.

“No need, you just stay safe, and if this mess is as contagious as that cop feller said, you need to steer clear of everything and everybody. “ He shook the boys hand, gave him a brief smile hopped in his truck and drove away.

Mark would often think if he’d known his grandfather, he would have been just like that old man, stern but fair, and very kind. Mark turned on the radio thinking he would have to hunt for the news, it was all that was on, every station.

“It is confirmed there is a viral outbreak, worldwide!” Came one reporter’s voice screaming over a huge crowd, “Shots have been fired by guardsmen.”

Reports like this were on every station, but although there were reporters everywhere telling what they saw, there were still no real explanations. There was just confusion and death. The reporters were nothing more than the crowds they were reporting, screaming crying, sick, and dying without a clue as to why or how.

Red 10

They convened at first light by Phil’s RV as planned.

“What shall we do?” Sherry asked.

“Well, first we need to find a working phone, maybe the land lines still work. Neither of our cell phones work out here, we can call the police and see if they can tell us what to do. For that matter we could probably just go to a store buy a paper and ask the people working what the hell is going on. It’s not like it’s the end of the world, damn stupid kid was playing a prank that’s all.” Phil chuckled with no humor, his words had given him and everyone else listening chills.

“If there was a virus they would have quarantined the sick, wouldn’t they?” Beth asked hopefully.

“I’m sure they did what they could,” reassured Sherry.

Red thought to himself, maybe the kids radio show was a prank, but the emergency services message was surely not a prank. The note on the managers door was no prank, and for damn sure the power being out is definitely not a prank. He then spoke after a brief silence, “well we’re sure not going to find out anything sitting here slapping our gums.” He smiled at Beth and Sherry.

Sandra seemed to be trying to block Phil from their view, hogging him all for herself. She did not speak, even after they had all piled into Red’s Jeep.

They slowly drove the fifteen miles to a small town nearby where Red and Sherry liked to go and eat breakfast sometimes when they were here. They had a small café that served giant fluffy pancakes with every-flavor syrup you could imagine. It was a quaint place that no matter where you were from, you felt at home.

They all noticed except for Sandra who was off in her own little world that they passed not a single car or saw a single soul the entire trip. When they entered the town they saw the gas station which had always been open at this hour before, was closed. Sherry quietly pointed this out to Red. A little further on at the town center was the town’s only stoplight. There had been a huge crash. There were cars in all four directions, seemingly waiting for the light to change.

Sherry, a nurse jumped out of the Jeep and headed for the crash, Red closely followed her. He glanced into the window of a nearby minivan and froze, “Sherry honey, stop.” He sounded nothing like himself, as quietly as he spoke Sherry heard and it chilled her.

She turned and asked, “what is it honey I’m just gonna see if I can help.”

“You can’t help them sweetie. They are all gone, each and every one of them are gone.” His tanned skin had gone very pale.

Sherry approached him, concerned. She then saw what had caused this sudden change in her husband.

Red as many people who lived a while, had seen dead people, now even children had seen pictures of war victims dead in the street of foreign countries. He had never seen anything like what he was looking at now. The couple appeared to be in their late seventies, they looked as if they had died in great agony. Had Red known these two were both in their early twenties, he would have been shocked him even further.

They had died on their way to pick up their baby from daycare, they got stuck behind the crash and died waiting for the rescue workers they and everyone else had taken for granted for so many years.

The virus had hit so fast that most never even knew what it was; only the healthiest made it to the final stages. Most died, or went into comas long before they even realized it was the cause of a terrorist attack. The lines of communication fell quickly, watching the news only confused people. No one knew what was happening. By the time the first outbreak warnings went out, it was too late, the damage had been done. As the millions of Americans fled the cities they carried with them this disease, contaminating every store, every gas station, and every rest stop along the way.

No one would ever know the truth about those who had planned this mass annihilation of the human race. Their plan had worked so well in fact, that it even wiped out villages in third world countries that had no access roads. This to, no one would ever read about, or have a vigil for. There would be no more concerts to feed the starving, there would be no more earth day, and the earth was already healing from centuries of pollution and the carelessness of mankind.

As Red walked back to his Jeep he glanced back one last time at the van, on the bumper was a sticker that read, in bold green letters: Save The World, Kill Yourself!

The others had been watching Red and Sherry raptly, Phil spoke first. “What did you see?”

“They are all dead, everyone. I’m afraid our worst fears have been realized. This may not be the definitive end of the world, but it most surely is the end of the world as we know it.” Red had an unusually serious edge to his voice.

“How could this be?” Sandra screamed. “It’s not possible.”

“Look we have to face facts, as hard as they are to deal with, we must. We are in the middle of nowhere. This is a real small town so we are surely going to find this same sort of thing in the bigger cities.

We should search for other survivors, but keep in mind we are dealing with an extremely deadly and contagious disease. “Red reached out and took Sherry’s hand.

They drove around for four hours looking for someone alive, but their search was fruitless, as they neared the highway they saw long lines of stalled cars filled with bodies and their things. It put Red in the mind of the Pharos; they were entombed with all their most valuable worldly possessions and their families.

Red noticed after passing several grocery stores that troubled him, they were empty; the stores looked like they had been closed and cleaned out of all their wares. Finding food somewhere that hasn’t been contaminated will be a chore he thought as they drove. He decided now wasn’t the time to raise any more bad news.

Beth had silently cried when she heard the news that what the kid on the radio had said was true, and remained silent the entire day, only answering yes and no when spoken to. Sandra was a blubbering mess, it seemed she had reverted to some lower form of functioning, Phil tried to talk to her but all she was capable of were grunts and squeals. Thankfully she was quiet for the most part. Red caught a glimpse of Phil feeding her some sort of pills. They had not noticed him watching.

They returned to the campsite, and at Reds urging all decided to leave together, “strength in numbers.” he had said.

Beth rode with Sherry and Red, and to their dismay Sandra and Phil had to join them only an hour into the trip. The roads were impassible for Phil’s RV. Sandra had fought like a tiger to not leave the comfort of her rolling sanctuary. Phil fed her more pills Red was sure, because in a very short span of time she went from a hellion to a zombie like state.

With all his experience Red wash almost positive Sandra was schizophrenic. It was hard to tell because Phil kept her full of pills. Red wondered how she would be once the pills ran out.

They camped on the side of the interstate that night. Red took Sherry and Beth with him and set out to find a second vehicle, claiming they needed more storage space. This was only kind of true. What they truly needed was more space between them and Sandra. Phil had agreed it was a good idea; he didn’t care what the vehicle was, as long as he could navigate this strange, new age graveyard they had been driving through.

They spent the next few days driving from town to town Red, Sherry, and Beth riding in red’s old jeep. Phil and Sandra followed close behind in the SUV Red had found for them, it was all they could find, it came off a used car lot, and it was the only thing with four wheel drive.

They drove through numerous small towns and back roads always sticking close to the interstate. After two days of this they decided to just keep heading west and hoped anyone else alive would see them on the interstate.

On the third night they were still well east of Raleigh when Red’s CB stopped scanning and for a brief second he thought he heard a voice. He listened intently as they crawled at no more than fifteen or twenty miles an hour, He assumed most of these people had been heading to the bigger hospitals in cities like Durham and Raleigh, and even further west to Burlington and Chapel Hill.

He began to think the voice was a product of his imagination, and his so desperately wanting to meet other people. This would prove that they were not a fluke that his few travelers were alive. He knew that if they were alive there must be others somewhere, but he had to see for himself.

Red had noticed something peculiar happening to himself, the shock of seeing all those dead people passing thousands a day now, was fading away. He had read of such things happening to people in war torn countries, and to soldiers. How sad it must be to see senseless death and feel nothing.

Lost in his thoughts, Sherry was fast asleep beside him and Beth had dozed off in the back seat, he swerved involuntarily when a muffled voice came through on the CB. “Hello, anybody there?”

He picked up the receiver and answered, “Hello, I hear you, can you hear me?”

Sherry and Beth had both been startled awake, then saw Red with the CB, and remained quiet.

They all waited in silence then five minutes later they heard. “Hello, my name is Alex, is there anybody out there. I am in Burlington at the National Guard Armory. Please respond if you can hear me”

“Yes we hear you, we are east of Raleigh, we are headed in your direction,” Red yelled into the handset.

They waited, and again five minutes later they heard the same message. “He can’t hear us Red said aloud, he must have a much higher powered CB transmitter than mine.”

They left it on and listened to this man’s message repeating every five minutes or so, sometimes the same sometimes a bit different, when finally about an hour later after hearing virtually the same message he came through with an entirely different message.

“My name is Alex; I grew up in Yanceyville, North Carolina. I have been alone for over a week, I am not infected. I had been searching for survivors, out in the country near where I grew up. I got lost and saw a store and stopped to see if I could find a map. I was sitting in the parking lot when a man began shooting at me.

He said things that made no sense. Talking like he was in a war, at first I thought he was crazy or sick. I was hiding behind my truck on the ground that’s when I saw that this man had murdered a young woman and had also shot her six year old daughter. I could see that the girl was still alive.

I was forced to wound him, so I could get to the girl. I disarmed him and just as I reached the girl she died right in front of me. There was nothing I could do. I then discovered he had shot another kid maybe about thirteen or fourteen years old, in the back as he ran away. He had set up an ambush, and had six guns loaded and waiting for anyone unlucky enough to pass by.

None of the three people he shot and killed were sick. I did not know what to do with him. I questioned him and he confessed that he was not crazy. He admitted to only killing them because it was his store, and that was his stuff, and they weren’t gonna get him sick.

I shot him with the same gun he had shot those people with. I am not sorry I did this. Criminals are sorry when they kill people. I am not a criminal. I buried the mother and child together and I gave the boy his own grave. I left the murdering son of a bitch to rot there in his parking lot. I don’t know why I am saying this, pretty stupid eh? I feel it’s only right to let anyone coming my way know what I have done.

“I don’t know if anyone can hear me, I am signing off, I will be checking this channel regularly tomorrow. Goodnight.”

Red, Sherry, and Beth all sat in silence. They found a relatively empty section of road and stopped to camp. No one spoke about what they heard, nor did they tell Phil or Sandra. None of them had even heard Sandra talk since the day in that small town. When Sherry had asked Phil how she was, he rudely brushed her off, saying. “I can take care of her!” Sherry let it go without another word.

Eulogy Post V

newskull

Alex 7

 

Before leaving town, he drove from street to street beeping the horn blasting the stereo in the hopes someone would hear and come out. He didn’t care who may hear, as long as they were healthy. It was not to be, he was alone, painfully alone. This he couldn’t help feeling ashamed of. He had been diagnosed with agoraphobia ten years earlier. He thought, yeah bro the perfect world for me, but it’s not.

He drove past the courthouse and jail, oh yes he had spent a bit of time in there long ago. “I was a stupid kid.” Self-medicating himself for his depression and other problems hadn’t worked well for him.

He pulled around back of the gym at his old high school, he had other friends back then, but his agoraphobia and trouble with the law caused him to lose touch with all but a few over the years. He felt the guilt for things he should have done, and worse yet for things he did. The weight he felt on his heart was crushing. Had anyone passed by at that moment watching this guy crying like a baby staring at a block wall would have thought him mad.

This was the spot some of his favorite times had happened, he could see them all super imposed on the wall from his memories. All his friends, nothing more than children, shivering in the cold morning air, smoking their cigarettes to fast, causing them to heat up and burn their lips.

He figured letting it all out was the best thing, here was as good a place as an. He felt he would need his wits about him. He wiped the tears from his cheeks, cleared his throat and said aloud. “I will never forget any of you; I will avenge you all if I am able.”

As he pulled out onto HWY 62 leaving Yanceyville, he yelled at the sky, “Why spare me?”

The truck had a full tank, and he had no idea where he was going, he just wanted to find people. So he drove. He took every road he came to until he was totally lost, this didn’t seem to be getting him anywhere so he decided to stop and find a map. He found a small gas station, an old country store type you’re prone to see older farmers hanging out at in the summer evenings having a beer, always discreetly tucked in a little brown bag.

This is his home, this little area of the country, he is here still, yet misses it already.  He thinks to himself, the world will never be the same again. This makes him think of all the things he will miss. He was never much of a couch potato, but he had liked some of the series that came on weeknights. He loved Pizza Hut, Subway, Olive Garden, Pepsi and Coke. He used to joke when people asked why he had both in the fridge; he’d smile and say, “I failed the Pepsi challenge.” He thought about how eventually all the cigarettes would go bad.

He knew from the news that people had come out in droves to buy up anything and everything they could get their hands on. How they wasted their last days hoarding supplies, the dead don’t eat. He wondered how many healthy people had gone out to buy food only to come home covered in death. They unwittingly carried out plans made years ago by people they’d never met. People they had never wronged, but nonetheless they died all the same.

He found himself yelling to the steering wheel, “You selfish, greedy, fucks killed yourselves. All they had to do was put out the roach poison. You merrily stomped through it like nothing had changed.”

His thoughts raced, he couldn’t calm himself, and he pounded his fists on the dashboard cracking the vinyl. Just as his fist was coming down the passenger side window exploded, glass flew into his face the bullet went into his headrest merely inches from his neck.

“What the fuck!” He screamed, he jerked the door handle up and fell out of the truck.

“You’re not poisoning me, you just try, and I’ll kill all you filthy gook bastards!” The voice chilled Alex to the core; he went from a complete manic state to that of pure terror.

“Stop shooting, I’m not trying to do anything to you man!” Alex’s plea was greeted with two more shots, one hit the front quarter panel of John’s pickup, and the other ricocheted off the front passenger side rim.

“I stopped the last three ya sent after me, I know your tricks from the Nam. You think I had forgotten eh?” This man was in another place and time seeing things Alex could only imagine.

Alex was hunkered down using the truck for cover, he was pulled in at an angle to the store front, he hadn’t pulled in front of the door because there was a car there, and it had appeared to be empty. He knew if this man came out he would die, his guns were in the truck.

He slid sideways careful not to raise his head to high, he still wasn’t exactly sure where the man was shooting from. Two more shots rang out both impacting the passenger’s side door one went clean through and into the seat. Alex lunged into the cab careful staying as low as possible, he got his fingers on the strap of the rifle he’d only shot once, but that shot would stick with him for the rest of his life.

He chambered a bullet and made sure the safety was off and got down on the ground. He was attempting to see where this guy was hiding. He saw now attempting to drive off would surely have been suicide. The man was in front of the door to the store hiding behind the car parked there. Jesus Christ he’s set up an ambush, he thought. The man had four rifles leaned against the front of the store, probably more Alex couldn’t tell he was on his belly so visibility was very limited.

“Look man I am not here to hurt you. I am out looking for other survivors.” Alex pleaded.

“Lies, the last ambush said they were here just for food, I know your tricks, that kid had bombs strapped to her. I will kill you all!” More shots struck the truck.

“What the hell are you talking about man, last ambush?” I just got here, I been alone for nearly a week.

“I found the guns, so I know, if I hadn’t killed that gook bitch and her demon spawn I’d of been blown to hell.” Not me, I did my time in the Nam; I’m not just some stupid old hick.” Bellowed the man and he began firing more rapidly.

Alex was desperately looking for a way out of this, all the while trying to keep tabs on this man, who was obviously ill. He was scanning the parking lot and slid towards the rear of the truck, that’s when he saw the woman and child. His heart sank, they were mother and daughter no doubt about it. It was the most horrific scene he had ever witnessed. The mother was lying there with her head half gone. She was maybe twenty eight, no more, the little girl was probably six, they had the same hair, same skin tone, and the same eyes and they both appeared to be looking at him.

Then the little girl blinked, had she really blinked, was it a hallucination. Dear God he prayed in his mind please let her be ok. For all the blood on them they appeared to have been perfectly healthy until stumbling across this madman, probably in search of food or gas. Just as he was convinced he’d imagined the girl blinking she blinked again. She was horribly pale, but thank God she was still alive.

The mother’s body obscured his view of the child, but she was bloody, he had to do something fast. He didn’t want to kill this man, but he would if he had to.

“Listen to me, I don’t want to hurt you but as God as my witness I will if you don’t put down your guns and come out into the open this instant. You killed a women and a little girl, this is not the fucking Nam this is Caswell County, and you’re in North Carolina God damn it!” Alex yelled.

The man started screaming obscenities and began firing again, Alex yelled. “You asked for this mother fucker” he took aim and shot the man just where the ankle and foot meet. He screamed and fell down dropping his weapon grabbing his ankle. Alex did not hesitate, he broke cover and ran around the other car and approached the man from the direction of his head. He got to the man before he realized what was happening. The man reached for another gun leaning nearby and Alex kicked him hard in the face. The man rendered unconscious was no longer a threat. Alex moved all the weapons out of his reach, he glanced into the car, and realized the weapons the crazed man had seen were children’s toys.

Alex then ran to the girl and her mother, the child’s entire right leg was gone, she saw him coming, and in a weak attempt tried to raise her hand to him. She died during the attempt. Alex could see now that neither she nor her mother had been infected. He felt what sanity he had left slipping out of reach. He needed to cry but found he was unable. The pain he had felt so deeply earlier was replaced with rage.

He walked to the side of the building where there was a faucet and turned on the water, he got on his hands and knees putting his head under the full force of the spray. He was going to kill this man, he was sure of it, “and God help me, I’m gonna enjoy it.” Alex spoke coldly. He turned off the faucet and as he was rising to his feet he saw a shoe around the corner of the store, he walked closer gun raised, round chambered, he froze, it was a boy not far beyond puberty. He had been coming to get gas and had gotten shot in the back with a twelve gauge for his trouble. Yes he was going to enjoy this.

He filled a bucket with water from the faucet and poured it on the man’s head, he wanted him awake, he wanted him to understand he was going to die, and why.

“What are you doing, dear God my foot, please help me.” The old man cried.

“What’s your name?” Alex asked passively.

“My names Fred, someone’s shot me good, please help me.” He was a creepy man, the kind of person you pass on the street and instantly feel the need to shower. The kind of figure you see in your mind when you hear someone speaking of child molesters and perverts. Alex didn’t know what all this man’s sins were; he just knew of three.

“Well Fred do you know where you are and what has happened here?” Asked Alex in a tone he himself had never heard issue from his own mouth.

“This is my store, been here twenty two years, my God the pain, who shot me?” He was bleeding quite a lot, to this Alex felt indifferently.

“I shot you, now shut up so we can get on with this.” His voice was calm and steady. “The news said that the death toll could be anywhere from ninety to ninety nine percent in heavily populated areas, and you Fred, at your store you‘ve had for twenty two years, just murdered three people who were not infected, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“I am not well, oh God, it’s not my fault, I am out of my meds, God It hurts, please,” He begged.

Alex turned his back to the man writhing in pain and surveyed the mother and child as they lay with their life’s blood congealing on the cracked asphalt. “Fred the way I see it, whether you are sick or healthy, I would trade ten of you for each of these three people you killed. It would seem you have incurred a debt you are not able to pay.”

“Please forgive me, I need help, I am gonna bleed to death.” The man was growing paler by the minute.

“Fred, tell me, do you know a way I can kill you thirty different times?” Alex thought a moment as the horror stricken man stared, his destroyed ankle forgotten for the moment. “Maybe I could drown you and revive you thirty times?” He asked with a smirk.

“That’s murder, you can’t kill a sick man, I didn’t know what I was doing. Please God.” Tears flowed freely.

“Fred you must see this from my perspective, if I kill you, then I never have to worry about you murdering someone else, because you’re out of meds. All the people who made them are dead friend. So aside from keeping you like a pet in a cage for the rest of your life, what do you have in mind?”

“I won’t do it again I swear, they were gonna get me sick, I know it, I had to shoot them.” The old man had shown his hand, and Alex caught it.

“Fred, all that gook shit was an act wasn’t it? Telling lies on your death bed has to be a sin.” Alex grinned, a menacing grin the old man began screaming and begging more fervently.

“Yes he cried, this is my store, my stuff, they were gonna steal it, and get me sick. Can’t you see I had to kill them?” He was blubbering.

Alex had met only one other person like this in his entire life, it was in jail and he couldn’t stand even thinking about the man, he was later executed in another state for things he had done to female runaways in the seventies. This guy and Fred could have been brothers.

“The old world is dead old man, you should have been willing to die for a chance to save those people, you have lived your life, you’ve had your adventures, and to kill those people in cold blood. Do you believe in God Fred?”

“Oh God No, please no,” He pleaded.

“Have some dignity. I will give you a chance to pray.” Alex saw with great pleasure Fred had wet himself. “Hush up that, now you’ve done what you’ve done, now it’s time be a man.”

“What gives you the right,” screamed Fred, “on what authority are you here to punish me.”

“Please Fred, authority was a concept stolen from God and used by man to their own ends. It was people in authority that caused all this, someone in charge decided to ignore our borders, while someone else in authority, somewhere else, decided to use our lack of security against us. It’s all a big circle you see. I am gonna kill you simply because it is the right thing to do, somehow you survived the virus, and I am positive you were meant to die. God doesn‘t make mistakes Fred. The virus missed you so he put you in my path.”

Resigned to his fate Fred whimpered, “You’re gonna let me pray?”

“Make it a good one Fred.” Alex answered.

“Our Father, who art…” Alex pulled the trigger on both barrels of the double barreled twelve-gauge Fred had used to murder these three innocent people.

He walked back around to the faucet; he washed the Fred off his face and threw his shirt on the ground. He found a shovel around back and dug two graves for the mother, child, and the boy he had found in back. It took him the rest of the day to get all three buried. He found some wood out back of the store and made three crosses, on each he wrote innocent, and rest in peace on each.

He drug Fred around to the side of the store and on the wall painted the words:

This man was a murderer, he killed three uninfected people on March 14th, (he guessed at the date) He attempted to kill me also, and you can see where he shot up my truck. One little girl about 6 and her mother about 28 years old, the boy was about 13. I gave them a Christian burial and prayed over them as good as I knew how. If you see these, pray over them also, in case I got it wrong.     -Alex

He was crying again, all the coldness had left him as he dug; burying these people finally drove home what he knew but had not yet accepted. They are all dead, and still dying, this isn’t like the terrorists attacks we had before. People healed then, buildings were rebuilt, memorial services held. There is no one left to remember. “Dear God please help me.”

 

Jakobs 8

 

Despite the soundness of his sleep Jakobs woke in terrible agony. He could barely move. The first thing he noticed was how cool that car had gotten and realized it had finally run out of gas. Although he was no longer dealing with the intense heat he was sick with dehydration and suffering continuous spasms. The pain was nearly more than he could stand he tried to scream but his mouth was dry and his tongue had begun to swell.

He twisted and moaned but could not ease the spasms. He knew he would die if he couldn’t escape this heated tomb. Willing his convulsing muscles to obey he forced himself sideways on the rear seat. Through searing pain he began kicking the glass of the driver’s side rear door as hard as he were able. The shackles dug at his wrists and ankles. With every effort they dug deeper ripping his flesh.

He battled unconsciousness and nausea as he worked. How many times he had kicked it he did not know. He knew stopping wasn’t an option. He was losing blood and to quit would surely be the end. The muscles limbered as he mustered all the force he could into the tempered glass of the cruiser. After an arduous fifteen minute struggle, two sprained and bleeding ankles, two bloody wrists and a half dozen cuts on his feet the window gave.

The smashing glass echoed but was heard by no one but Jakobs and the buzzards which had discovered the unwatched body of the prison guard. The large carrion feeders did not fly they just kept on enjoying their grotesque banquet. Jakobs nearly lost consciousness as the cool air rushed into the cruiser; he choked on the coldness of it. He was briefly energized and remembered his bleeding hands and feet. With great effort he managed to climb out through the broken window. He fell hard on the broken glass cutting him many times and driving glass into his shoulder and thigh.

He got to his knees and pulled the driver’s side door open and removed the keys from the ignition. He removed the shackles which he had been wearing now for over twenty-four hours. It was morning again and cold, but after wrapping his feet and ankles with pieces ripped from his undershirt he collapsed and slept well into the afternoon on the snow covered asphalt of the prisoner loading dock.

Jakobs woke with a blinding headache. He hurt everywhere and was chilled to the bone. He tried using the cruiser to get himself up but was far too weak to stand. He slowly climbed into the driver’s seat. He looked around and shoved under the passenger seat was a lunch box. He snatched it open to find a warm coke and a spoiled two day old sandwich. He had to strain just to open the cap. Jakobs wondered if this was what being old was like. Everything taking more effort than it should. He slowly sipped the warm drink and cherished every drop.

Jakobs was in bad shape and he knew it. He leaned the seat back and tried to rest a bit longer unsure of his ability to drive. He dozed fitfully, every so often waking for a moment drinking more coke then immediately falling asleep.

He was fully awake three hours later. He needed to eat and find water. He noticed the dull throbbing of his wrists and ankles and decided to drive into the nearby town and find a place to dress his wounds and rest.

There was a gas pump there in the dock for refueling the vans and buses they normally entered and exited all hours of the day and night. With great effort he managed to roll the cruiser in neutral close enough to refuel it.

The cruiser no longer his prison was his way out. He slowly drove up the incline past the dead guard. The birds were still there but most of the guard wasn’t. Jakobs could not avert his eyes from the grizzly scene. He whispered aloud. “Whole new world buddy, it’s a whole new world.”

Jakobs noticed that the guard’s parking lot was just as full of cars as on any normal day. He had seen it on his trips to court and the day he had initially arrived. He had always viewed it as a testament to how corrupt the government was. “Look at all these fucking lazy bastards stealing my tax money.” He knew now that the former occupants of these vehicles were no longer stealing from him. They were now forever entombed inside the monolithic prison snuggled high in the hills out of sight from the public. He felt a chill as he had this thought.

The prison was on his left as he slowly rolled past. He could see where the death row inmates were housed segregated from the rest of the population. He saw a flash in one of the tiny windows. “I guess someone did survive.” He grinned. He knew the death row inmates received special treatment. They had televisions, computers, and books. Their rooms were more like college dorm rooms than housing for murderers. The only difference was the tiny window and steel door with a tiny slot for food. He had always thought this to be funny; the worst offenders were treated the best. “They also have a separate HVAC system.”

He counted the windows right to left and he knew who’s cell the flash had come from. It was the kid; he was sentenced to death by lethal injection for killing his entire family. Jakobs liked him, the kid had told him through the food slot why he had done it. Jakobs thought his thinking was sound. He had been sexually abused by someone in his family his whole life. Jakobs couldn’t remember who. Everyone knew and no one tried to help him.

Jakobs thought this was another testament to how wrecked the judicial system was. A child molester walks free after a handful of years; he had seen this quite a few times on the news. Many times they go on and do it again. If you kill them like the kid did, you get put to death? At this thought he blurted, “Fucking idiots.”

With this exertion he felt stabbing pain in his throat. His tongue was still swollen and when he spoke it was with a slight lisp. He needed rest and water. He knew he had to properly dress his wounds or risk infection. “No doctors he mumbled.”

By now he noticed the flash was repetitive. Then he saw similar flashes in other windows. “I can’t help ya just yet.” He croaked.

He continued on towards the small town. The road was long and winding and getting very slippery. He had seen the plow trucks from his window as they made regular trips up the old road to the prison when it snowed. The trucks had stopped right along with everything else it seemed. He was weak and took the drive very slow.

After a few slight skids and forty-five minutes he could see the edge of the small town through the trees. There were no lights in any of the houses he passed. Now that he saw the stores were equally dark he knew that the power was out. He needed to wash his wounds and find bandages. From his time listening to the news on the radio he knew to try and enter a store would surely be his undoing. He needed unspoiled supplies.

As the town grew closer he saw the first of the stalled cars. It wasn’t until he was right beside it did he realize the driver was still inside and would be forever. This was the first victim he had seen up close. The guard was a gruesome sight having been picked apart by scavengers, but this was somehow worse. “Somebody really screwed up this time.” He groaned.

He began passing more stalled cars as he neared the doctor’s office which he noticed was very much like the one where he had gotten the DNA test done. He didn’t feel remorse for the dead he saw. Some had just gotten out of their cars and had lain down as if to take a nap right on the sidewalk. “Them people aren’t sleeping buddy,” he mused as the chill renewed in him. This made him involuntarily shiver. It was like everyone in town tried to go to the doctor at once. It took him a while to navigate the main street which now resembled a parking lot.

There was a rundown hotel on the edge of town. It almost never had any occupants when he had passed it on the way to the interstate on his trips to court. This he deduced from the lack of cars in the parking lot. He hoped the water would work at least long enough for him to get cleaned up.

He pulled in close to the hotel. He removed the shotgun from the front and used it as a crutch to exit the cruiser. He slowly hobbled to the nearest room. He steadied himself raised the barrel and blew the lock off the door. He had been using guns his entire life but could never remember a shot being this loud before. The eeriness of the situation was not lost on him. He knew if anyone were alive they would have heard that at a great distance.

He lowered the shotgun again using it as a crutch. He stood a while listening for he knew not what. The chill was on him again. He ached from head to toe and was in bad shape, but he knew he’d be ok in a day or two. “Better than being dead,” he rasped.

With that he entered the vacant room using a flashlight he’d found in the cruiser to see. He went in the bathroom put the stopper in the tub and turned the faucet on. He was pleased when the water flowed heavy at first then slowly tapered off. He had enough as he had hoped.

Jakobs undressed and lowered himself slowly into the frigid water. He cleaned his wounds with the cheap hotel soap. He actually felt better when he exited the old porcelain basin. He thought this must have been a really nice place when it was new.

He figured the builder had been a fool thinking this town would sprout up and go somewhere. It was a town where the two major sources of income were welfare or a prison guard’s salary. The mine had shut down many years ago.

Even as these thoughts passed through his mind he still felt no remorse for all the dead guards. He felt they got better than they deserve. “God damn thieves,” he croaked, sending fresh waves of pain through his parched throat.

He filled two full styrofoam cups with water and one half full before the sink had given all it held. The water was a little brown but he didn’t care. He would have drank from the toilet had he no other option. He used ripped up sheets from the bed to dress his wounds. He didn’t put the prison jumpsuit back on he just crawled in the bed and wrapped himself tightly in the cheap blankets. He sipped water for the next two hours until he drank his store. Then he slept well into the next afternoon.

Eulogy Post IV

blue skull

Mark 5

 

The boy lay sleeping, restlessly in his bed as the man staggered into his room. Had he been awake he could have tried to protect his face. He stirred just as the large fist struck his face. Rudely awakened from dreams of a better life, He tried to cry out for help but the hands were around his neck. He opened his eyes but could only see a bright flash from the blow to his nose, which had been broken as easily as a twig.

He was a little small for the age of 15, he wasn’t athletic at all. He had wanted many times to play sports, but was never allowed. He lived in a world of fantasy he created for himself. The boy, like many abused children, the lucky ones anyway, had come to realize that being an “adult,” or a “parent.” didn’t automatically make you right, and all knowing. He knew without a shadow of doubt that wisdom did not come with age.

For weeks he had been trying to find a way out of this hell he was stuck in. He finally had what he needed, proof that he is being beaten. He called the child abuse hotline and had been instructed that he and his mother would be protected from his stepfather. Now was the time to act, if he lived through this attack.

His mother comes in from the hallway screaming. “Stop you’re going to kill him!”

She had never stepped in before, claiming she was scared of him, and that trying to stop him would only make matters worse. Mark had believed her, she had told him after a big fight six months earlier that she’d leave him and he had threatened to kill them both. Mark was under the impression she only stayed with this man to protect her son.

The man turned his attention to the boy’s mother, throwing her into a large armoire, shattering its mirrored door. Blood began to pour from her shoulder. Her light blue silk blouse was quickly becoming a bright scarlet.

“Oh god I’m sorry honey, I didn’t mean to hurt you!” He once again turned to the boy gasping for air crumpled on his bed and screamed. “You’re gonna pay for this, this is all your fault!”

The boy could only look on terrified of what he was seeing, paralyzed partially from lack of oxygen and partially from terror.

“I’m gonna kill you!” Screamed the crazed man his mother had married just 3 months after his father’s death. That was two years ago, and his life has been one beating after another since.

“No if you kill him we won’t get any more money.” Quietly spoke his mother.

His stepfather had been a former business partner of his father. His father had ended this business relationship and left this crazed man penniless because of unexplained large sums of money disappearing from the company bank account. This nearly crippled the company, but the boy’s father had been a very wise investor and was able to cover the losses until the business bounced back.

The boy’s father felt no guilt for leaving his partner broke, he could have had him arrested and put in prison, that he felt, was as far as his generosity needed to go. It was his company he had built it from the ground up, with no help, so why should he do more. This fact guaranteed the boy a miserable existence. The stepfather put all his blame for his financial straits on the boy, who had no more to do with it than the man on the moon.

The stepfather had planned on murdering his former partner so he could just step in and take the company by forging some documents, it would have been easy, because he had inside help. He never got the chance; the boy’s father died in a terrible accident, a truck driver fell asleep and ran over him. He was driving a tiny sports car, which ironically had been a gift for his wife. His death had been very hard for Mark.

Marks mother on the other hand had faired very well from his demise. With the large life insurance policy and a sizable settlement from the trucking company, she was doing ok. For a brief period things were even ok for Mark, but all that changed when the money started to run out.

Marks father had it in his will that in the event of an untimely death, his business, properties, and various investments were to all be liquidated and put into a trust fund for his son. His wife was to receive only 10%, but with that, the insurance, and the settlement she had well over three million dollars. That would have been plenty enough for any normal person to live lavishly all the rest of their days, but not her.

Mark’s new stepfather was not as wise with investing as mark’s father had been. He lost over two million in the first six months. He drank morning, noon, and night. He never made a business deal sober.

The boy struggled to get out of the way of the fist aimed at his nose, this time he was hit squarely in the ear. He was now partially blinded, and couldn’t hear anything but ringing in his left ear.

The boy’s mother just as calm as before asked, “what’s wrong Roger, what is it, what’s happened?” Realizing this had to be more than just punishment for his enemies son. She didn’t mind Roger beating her kid. Sometimes she enjoyed listening to the screams.

“He has to die, we have no choice. I’ve gotten in some trouble with some serious people who don’t accept failure or excuses.” Roger blurted.

”Sweetie let’s get a drink and talk about this. OK?” She asked sweetly.

The boy sat stunned trying to figure out why his mother was talking so sweetly and calmly to the man trying to kill her son.  He then thought she is just trying to calm him down and get him away from me. He then felt so much undeserved love for his mother, still not aware of her true deception.

His mother had never wanted him; she had never wanted children at all. She had consented only because it was what Mark’s father had wanted. Just another part of the job she had taken, she was not going to be poor all her life. She loved that his father had worked so much. She had all the free time in the world to take lovers as she desired, she got to live in a beautiful luxurious home, and drive expensive cars. All these things she felt she deserved for giving this man his “perfect” son, and in doing so wrecking her perfect body. How selfish she thought him to be.

She never loved the man she was married to for fifteen years; she had begun cheating only after three months of marriage. When she became pregnant she wasn’t even sure who the father was until after the boy was born. He was a tiny reflection of his father.

After a few minutes Mark regained his bearings and remembered he had put a small listening device in the living room. Something he had bought with money he had taken from the safe in his dad’s office. He had the receiver plugged into his computer. He put on his headphones and waited, the audio was clear as promised on the package. He had waited by the mailbox everyday till it came and was nearly caught the day it arrived. He had thrown it in a hedge and had to sneak out in the middle of the night to retrieve it.

“Listen Theresa we need that money, these guys know where we live, they were describing the lawn to me on the phone. They must have followed me. I know you hate the kid as much as I do. If you want after we get the trust fund we can split 50/50 and go our separate ways, it doesn’t matter to me.”

Mark waited, expecting his mom to start screaming and crying, but soon found he was waiting in vain.

“We’ll never get away with it now; you’ve beaten him to a pulp. There will be too many questions about where all those bruises came from. Come on Roger we have to plan this carefully, we will have to keep him locked up until the wounds heal, then maybe use one of those damned 4  wheelers in the garage. We can make it look like an accident.” A single tear left Mark’s eye as he heard his mother saying this, but only one.

He decided that he would get them before they got him. He wouldn’t kill his own mother, but Roger was a dead man. He just wanted to talk to his mother, so he kept recording and listening.

“Look I am going out for a while, get him calmed down. I think I know someone who can handle this professionally.” Said Roger as he rose and headed for the door.

“Ok then, I will go calm the bastard son, be careful.” Mark had never heard such hate in his mom’s voice; it chilled him, and only fueled his anger.

After 20 minutes his mother walked in, riding high on her prescription cocktail. He noticed she had changed blouses and bandaged her shoulder. “Mom how’s your shoulder?”

“I’m ok sweetheart, are you ok?” Asked Theresa with all the fake sincerity she could muster.

“Well, I’m covered in blood, I can’t hear out of my left ear, that will probably be permanent. How the fuck do you think I’m doing mom?”  He screamed at her.

“How dare you talk”, she began.

He cut her off, “I just want to know did you two kill my father?”

She was scrambling for answers, she was lost, and she couldn’t get her thoughts together. Wait, how dare this little ungrateful fucker talk to me this way? Besides, he doesn’t know shit, and if he does no matter he will be dead soon anyways. Then he can join his blessed father in hell.

She back handed him leaving a long gash across his cheek from the huge diamond ring she was wearing. “How dare you, you little fuck!”

He was in excruciating pain and could barely see. Even from his mother’s feeble blow new shockwaves of pain seared his face. His nose was in need of surgery, he could see the shape of her through the tears and blinding brightness only someone who has had their nose shattered has seen.

He rolled back on his bed bent his legs and before she could comprehend what he was doing, he kicked her with both feet square in the face as hard as he was able, forever disfiguring her beautiful features. What she hadn’t noticed was that although he was still in his night clothes he had put his hiking boots on.

The force of the blow threw her backwards into the same armoire she had collided with earlier. She slumped and fell to the floor in a heap, as much a bloody pulp as he himself was. He lifted her and put her in a chair and tied her in tight.

Before using the smelling salts from the first aid kit to revive her he made sure his microphone was turned on and his computer was recording.

“Mom wake up.” she pulled away from the smelling salt and realizing she was tied up, began to panic.

“You’re going to reform school if you don’t untie me this instant.” She demanded.

“Mom did you murder my father?” He asked, not moved by her demands, then added, “We are all alone till dick gets back.”

She just looked at him through her smashed face, too doped up to feel the pain, defiantly.      “Please tell me, I deserve to know,” he was becoming hysterical, she was going to tell him the truth or she would pay.

“You don’t deserve shit you little bastard. You’ve done nothing but be in my way since the day you were born. So don’t tell me what you deserve!” She screamed.

“Maybe you’d like to hear something I recorded earlier.” He was trying to calm down, but having trouble keeping his hysterics at bay.

She listened to herself planning his murder and broke down into her own hysterical crying fit, barely audible, “please you don’t understand, he will kill me, it’s all him.”

“Listen carefully mother, I am recording this conversation, is that OK mother? It may help you not get in so much trouble. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Yes, that’s a good idea, you are such a clever boy, yes record what I say, you must believe me I would never hurt you, I swear to God.” She pleaded.

“Mother, did you or Roger murder my father?”

“Roger was going to, he even went so far as to try and hire someone, but had no luck finding someone to do it. So he decided to do it himself, he was building a bomb but never got the chance to use it because of the accident.”

“How long had you been seeing Roger before my father died?” Asked Mark, he was fully in control and planned on making the best of this situation.

“Ten, no, eleven years, but your father was so cold to me, he didn’t love me.” She cried.

“So you knew Roger before he became my father’s business partner then?” He asked solemnly. Mark had heard bits and pieces of conversations over the years, now they were finally making sense.

“It was all Roger’s idea, I introduced them, saying Roger was a friend from college.” She stuttered, trying to understand why he wanted this information.

“So you knew, participated in, and planned the stealing of the money from dad’s company?” He asked sternly.

“NO!!!” She exclaimed.

“Mom telling a lie isn’t going to help you at all, being honest is the best thing you can do.” He said earnestly. Mark was attempting to emulate authority, as he had seen on so many cop shows.

“Ok I helped get the money, but Roger said it was temporary and that he would put it back. He had an investment opportunity.” She squeaked.

“Mom didn’t you and my father have a prenuptial agreement?” That question was not planned it just popped out, yet another hold over in his mind from a TV court room drama.

“Yes, but what does that matter.” she trailed off, her son was far more clever than she had known, she just admitted to eleven years’ worth of infidelity. Which although they hadn’t divorced, there could still be repercussions and she was entitled to nothing. She would lose her house, and probably be ordered to pay back all that she had received in the first place.

He broke through her thoughts, it was easy to manipulate her, and she had been eating pills nonstop for years now, not even hiding the fact after Marks father had died. “This is my last question, and I promise I will never talk to you ever again as long as I live. Are you planning on killing me to get my trust fund, and is not my stepfather out right now attempting to find someone to pay to kill me?” He had silent tears in his eyes when he asked this, but turned his head so that she couldn’t see.

“God forgive me, yes we are going to kill you Mark, but I don’t want to.” She cried in relief, but it troubled him how she answered, yes we are going to kill you Mark, like nothing had changed in the plan.

He switched off the microphone and made 20 copies of the audio he had just recorded, he wrote on the CD sleeves that it was the confession of a murder attempt, put his address on them all and walked through his neighborhood putting them in people’s mailboxes. He knew what was coming next may not work and he wanted a backup plan to make sure his mother and Roger were made to pay.

It was almost two am, he only had until three to prepare. He knew Roger never missed last call, so he rushed back home showered and bandaged his face as best he could.  He went down in the basement and switched off the breaker to the front of the house, he needed it to be dark when Roger returned. He climbed the stairs in the foyer and waited.

Anna

The girl was lying face down on the cold concrete floor of the isolation cell deep inside the girl’s reformatory. She was very frail; she had many visible bruises, and was completely naked from the waist down.

The worst of the bruises were on her face and thighs. The man looking through the glass stared bewildered at what he had just discovered. They had given him a map of the cavernous prison so he would not get lost as he worked.

He had been a prison inspector for nine years and knew how to read a map. This map was an exception. He was walking down hallways that should not exist in an underground wing of the prison that was never built. They labeled it a girl’s reformatory but it was no different than any prison he had inspected before. He was certain there were no doors leading to this place, nor were there any steps leading down.

Before he had found the girl he had retraced his steps and found no exit from where he stood other than the crawl spaces built in for electrical and plumbing. That’s how he found this undocumented labyrinth.

He wasn’t sure what he had stumbled into but was becoming very nervous. It was obvious the girl had been savagely raped and beaten. Who did this he wondered. He had keys so he slowly opened the door to her cell.

The girl heard him enter and tried in vain to crawl away from the noise. She was very weak and struggled with the effort. Buddy had never seen someone in such a condition. He saw she had a few gashes on her arms and they began to bleed as she attempted to crawl away from him.

“Dear God.” stammered the frightened inspector. He knew that if he were caught before he could alert the authorities this could end badly for him and this poor child both.

He could not avert his gaze and then realized she was indeed naked and this embarrassed him. He tried looking away as the girl slowly lifted her damage face towards him.

“No more please.” She whimpered at the startled man.

“I don’t understand sweetheart, what happened to you? Why are you here? Where are we?” he was at a loss for words, all he could do was stutter questions at this poor creature.

The girl realizing he was not one of her tormentors quietly begged, “Please help me.”

“I will get you help. Who did this? I have to find my way back out and call someone before whoever did this finds out I found you.”

“Please don’t leave me.” The battered girl begged.

“I will get help and come back please believe me.” He was scared and knew if he were discovered before he could find help he could be locked in one of these nonexistent cells himself.

She was too weak to argue. She lowered her head as he quietly locked the door. She slept for how long she did not know. She dreamt of what had been done to her. She dreamt of her father and mother before the accident. She also dreamt of the accident and this startled her from her sleep.

She was in severe pain and needed help. Had she dreamt of the man or was it real? She did not know. She pulled herself up to the small metal sink and slowly began to wash herself. She let the bloody water fall to the cell floor. She wanted to be clean. She didn’t want to be seen in such a state if indeed the man had been real.

She had been putt in this reformatory for repeatedly running away from her foster home. They didn’t believe her when she told them how the foster dad liked to touch her and the other girl staying there. The problem had been when her foster sister got on the stand she denied everything. She liked it when he touched her. Anna could hear her in the night moaning and giggling, always begging for more.

So after her fifth attempt at running away they had sent her here. This hell she had not deserved. She lost her parents to a drunk driver only eleven months earlier and she was still being punished.

She had heard the men talking before they began raping her. “Yeah she is a prime candidate, no folks, and a record of running away. No one will miss this one.” The man who spoke was large and had a southern drawl she never saw his face. He was speaking to a much smaller man almost weasel like in the dim room. They wore masks to hide their identity.

From what they had said she knew she would be killed after they were finished. They had her sitting on a bed in a larger room in a part of the prison she did not recognize. They had taken her through some sort of crawl space to get to this place.

The lights of the cameras burned her eyes when they were switched on. She was more terrified than she had ever been in her life. They did not speak to her or each other again.

They started beating her first; they then ripped off all her clothes except for the shirt she was wearing. They each in turn raped her in every horrible fashion she could imagine. She was a virgin but knew about sex. These men did things that she had never heard of. After an hour or so she went numb and really couldn’t remember anything else until she woke in the cell the man had found her in. That is if he were real.

She continued to wash herself as best she could. The water was frigid but after enduring the previous night’s abuse the cold was a welcome sensation. She remembered they had not used protection and she wondered would she be pregnant or sick from these deranged men’s pleasure.

She was going to die she knew, unless the man had been real. “Please be real.” She whispered aloud. She rested against the wall, the effort of cleaning herself had taken a great deal of her strength but she felt revitalized having their filth washed off of her.

She drank from the copper flavored water as best she could. She did not know what was to be next. How long had it been since the man was there? Was he there? She began to believe he was real convincing herself that had he been imagined he would have been someone she knew.

She dozed off leaning against the cold wall. There was no way to tell the time in this place but when she woke she was sure it had been many hours since the man was there.

The man slowly staggered down the hall. He knew he didn’t have much time before he was dead like so many others before him. He had to set her free if it was all he could do, she was hurt but he believed she would heal and go on to survive.

He had tried to get help as he had promised but the world was a madhouse and a lone girl in a prison cell was of little importance to anyone but him it seemed.

He had been wandering the corridors for over an hour trying to find the girl a safe passage out and he had finally been successful. He had found an old door barely visible in the dim corridor and after a great struggle managed to pry it open with a fire axe he had found. It led out into the woods behind the girl’s reformatory that was quickly becoming a tomb. He was wearing a fireman’s suit he had taken from the maintenance room. He didn’t want to get her sick as well.

She heard him opening the cell and grew terribly afraid. She did not know who or what was going to come through the door. More masked figures to end her suffering? Or was it the man keeping his promise?

No one entered once the door was open, then after a few tense moments she heard the man’s voice. Choked and muffled. “Come to the door sweetie.”

She slowly rose and made her way to the doorway. She walked unsure on her sore legs and nearly fell more than once. Out in the hallway she saw him, even though he wore a mask she could tell something was seriously wrong with him.

“What is going on?” she quietly asked.

“Sick, they are all sick. It’s why I couldn’t get help. Everyone in this place is dying. I found a door, follow that hallway take the first right then the next left and you are free. Listen stay away from people everyone is sick. There is a plague. I don’t know what it is but I have it too.” He began to vomit inside the mask. The few words he had said overexerted him and he could not breathe. The frightened girl watched as her savior choked to death merely 20 feet away.

She made her way down the hall slowly. She was barefoot and naked from the waist down. She was in shock but walked on anyway. She stumbled out into the morning light and was blinded by the sun. The air was fresh and cold. She collapsed right outside the door and slept until that night. Had anyone noticed the open door she would have been caught, but there was no one looking for her. The only three people who knew where she was were all dead now. Anna battered, bruised, and scarred for life, was now free.

Mark 6

When he saw Roger’s headlights approaching he dialed, “911 emergency, what’s your emergency?” He heard from the receiver.

“My stepfather is trying to kill me.” he gave the address and hung up, he didn’t have much time to waste, he then threw his mother’s cell phone shattering it on the foyer tile.

Roger was in a bad mood he had tried to reach a guy named Tony, a name Mark had heard a few times in passing, to see if he could find someone to kill the kid. What he heard when he got through was far more disturbing.

“Hey Tony this is Roger, I have a problem I need taken care of, then I can settle up with you and your boss. Can we talk safely on this phone?”

“Roger I have bad news bud.” Roger thought Tony’s voice sounded different like he was deliberately changing his accent to sound southern.

“Look Tony I can get the money I swear. Let me explain.” He was starting to panic a bit thinking these guys weren’t going stand for any bullshit excuses.

Tony began to laugh, “You have got to be the dumbest person I have ever met.”

“What are you talking about?” Roger asked dumbfounded.

Roger still didn’t get it. Had he been sober at least one of the times he had talked to Tony or met with the other guy, he would have realized something wasn’t right. Tony and his brother Jeremy had been in jail with Roger years earlier. Roger had always been spouting off about how connected he was, and how much money he had, and could make.

The brothers began to jokingly stroke his ego asking him to tell them stories. Roger, to foolish to realize it was just their way of passing the time ate it up. One brother was in the same cell block as him, and the other was a trustee, able to move around the jail. So one would tell him he had heard about him from someone in another cellblock and made up a name. He did this several times but to both their surprise, Roger always seemed to know the fictitious person in question.

It was nothing more than a game and Roger never caught on. Once they were out of jail they had forgotten him altogether. Roger was nobody special, and he so desperately wanted to be somebody. Then one day three weeks ago they were out at a rundown strip club when in stumbles Roger.

It was too good to be true, they were bored and the girls were overly skanky, but the drinks were strong and cheap. Tony approached Roger, who didn’t know him from Adam, until he started talking about the time they did. Roger started talking loudly, proud of his incarceration and greeted Tony like a dear old friend.

Tony told him he was there on business, but his contact hadn’t shown up yet. Roger nearly pissed himself with anticipation, thinking this could be his chance at something big. Tony saw the gleam in his eye and knew all too well Roger was ripe for the picking.

At this point the brothers had planned nothing more than a joke. Tony gave Roger details of a transaction of information that was supposed to go down, but he had to catch a flight out of town. He said someone owed his boss lots of cash and he was on his way to collect. He told Roger how to recognize the man he was waiting for. Tony even gave him a code word to say. It was all Tony could do to keep a straight face.

He motioned for his brother to leave and he left Roger with dollar signs in his eyes. They went home, Jeremy dressed to fit his brother’s description that had been given to Roger and they returned to the club, this time Tony waited outside.

Roger had been casing the door, every time the wind blew outside he would jump. He was on Jeremy even before he could reach the bar. “Silver Fish,” he blurted anxiously.

Jeremy playing his part told him, “The time is no good just now. I will get back in touch with you in a few weeks.” Roger was terribly disappointed, but willingly gave his cell and home phone numbers to this complete stranger, he had seen on a daily basis for three months only a few years earlier.

That set the plan in action, Tony and Jeremy got many laughs out of thinking of what to tell Roger they wanted him to do, completely convinced he was full of shit. They were only partly right. One day after watching the business news and seeing a company that had been outsourced to China and was shutting its doors very soon, Jeremy called Roger.

“I got that tip, sorry for the delay, this one is free because of the inconvenience.” Hearing Jeremy’s lie, Roger nearly began drooling.

He told him about the company and that it was all a ploy to drop prices so that certain interested parties could buy in, then after it was made public they were not closing; the stock prices would shoot through the roof.

Immediately after getting off the phone Roger had called Tony to share this tip, in the hopes of gaining status with Tony’s “boss”. Tony was very gracious and told Roger that if he were to tell his boss this and the deal fell through, Roger would be responsible for his losses plus twenty percent. Roger half drunk at the time swore on his own grave that it was fool proof and that there was no way they could lose.

Tony jokingly said “funny you should say your own grave as opposed to someone who is already dead, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”

That would haunt Roger’s every waking moment for the next two weeks. On that Friday, as anyone who had done the minimal research would have known the company closed.

Tony called Roger within minutes of the closing, “what the hell is going on Roger, my boss is very unhappy, but not to unhappy, at least you guaranteed the success of this deal.”

Roger was barely audible, he choked out the words, “I don’t know what could have went wrong, I was assured it was a sure thing. How much did he invest?”

“Good thing you‘re a rich man Roger, he only put in one million, such a small amount because it is the first time dealing with you. You’ll get it back in no time, you’re a smart guy. And by the way the boss expects ten percent in five days and then ten percent every week after until you are squared away.” Tony said cheerily.

Roger thought he was going to pass out, “please”, was all he could get out.

Then more sternly Tony said, “There isn’t going to be a problem is there, the boss doesn’t like late payments. He really loved your beautiful home by the way, he told me to tell you, especially the way the ripples in the pool reflect off the back patio glass. The guys had followed him home the night after the strip club just to see how Roger really lived. Tony had bet trailer park, Jeremy had bet duplex, they both lost.

“No he stammered,” I’m going to get killed over this, Roger thought.

“Great, we’ll see you in five days bud, better luck next time.” Tony hung up and he and his brother who had been listening on a different line laughed until they both had tears in their eyes.

The guys had no idea what had really happened, only one exchange of the failing companies stock had been made that week, some poor fool had bought four-hundred thousand dollars’ worth of useless stock. Roger had spent all that was left of his wife’s money.

On Wednesday Tony called Roger again, just after he and his brother had smoked a large joint. They figured this would be the last call, and they would let Roger off after screwing with him a bit more.

“Roger, you got the boss’s money?” Tony asked, already fighting the giggles.

“Yes, but it’s not all in cash, I have fifty thousand in cash and one hundred fifty in bearer bonds.” Hearing Roger say this Jeremy fell backwards out of the kitchen chair he was leaning in. There was a loud crash.

“Fuck, dropped the phone,” Tony yelled to cover his brothers accident.

“Ok go to Kinko’s on 5th street. Drop the money behind the dumpster at 11:15 pm tonight, and leave immediately, someone will be watching, better be no cops or any other funny business. It‘s smart what you’re doing, paying twenty percent of the principle up front, the boss will take that as a sign of good faith.” Tony then hung up.

The brothers didn’t know what to think, they had imagined he would start whining and crying like a baby, begging for more time, but to be told yes he had it surprised them. They sat in silence for a long time that day.

They were sitting in an adjacent parking lot when they saw the new Jaguar pull up beside the dumpster, they thought it funny how Roger was all dressed in black cloak and dagger style, and he even had black gloves on. He stepped out of the car reached in the back seat grabbed a dark duffle bag and dropped it behind the dumpster as instructed, then left.

Tony ran and grabbed the bag once he was out of sight, as he reentered the car Jeremy said, “I’ll shit myself if there is a hundred bucks in there.”

“Better start shitting now because there is a lot more than that in here.” Tony’s eyes were the size of dinner plates.

“Well buddy, you were the victim of a prank by two good ole boys from Tennessee, there is no boss, and your contact was my brother you dumbass. This all started out as a joke for us in jail, something to pass the time, we both knew you were full of shit with all your gangster stories, we just went along to see how big your lies would get.” Tony chuckled into his cell phone.

“I’ll kill you both, I have your numbers I know people.”  Roger barked frothing at the mouth into his own cell.

“These are disposable cell phones, prepaid type you can buy anywhere, and no you don’t have people, weren’t you just calling me because you have a problem?” Tony retorted.

Jeremy took the phone from Tony and said, “you know this all started out as a joke as my brother said, we were calling to screw with you the other day, and we were going to tell you it was a joke and leave you alone, but you made it so easy. As the old proverb goes, A fool and his money are soon parted.” at this he stuck the cell phone to the door speaker and cranked an old song called ‘send me your money’.

They could hear Roger screaming his head off as Tony threw the cell phone out onto the side of the highway.

The boy waited breathlessly at the top of the stairs, every sound was magnified in the darkness, Mark heard the car door open then close, he heard Roger as he dropped the keys and began to curse. He heard as Roger tried the key in the door, in the dark it took him three tries to get the door unlocked. He stumbled into the foyer still cursing. He tried the lights, but they did not come on.

To say he was in a bad mood was a bit of an understatement. Roger was completely out of his mind, he had decided on the drive home the kid had to die tonight. He would crack his skull then take the boy out back and make it look as if he crashed his 4 wheeler. But he was going to make him suffer first, yes he deserved it, all this was his and his dead fathers doing. That will is what caused all this, and if he couldn’t punish the father, then the son would have to pay.

“What’s wrong with the fucking lights, Theresa you worthless bitch where are you?” He bellowed through the silent house.

“She’s up here with me Roger, why don’t you come join us, were telling family secrets. Will you share with me Rog?” That was all Mark had to say to start Roger rampaging up the stairs.

“Rog, I’ll kill you for calling me that!!!” Mark waited crouched ready to attack.

Roger fell twice before he was halfway up the stairs. Again he screamed, “Where are you Theresa?”

“Well Rog she told me all her secrets and then I killed her, I made it look as if you did it of course. Luckily I got all her secrets on tape first, and she said you did it all. I enjoyed the part of how together you planned to rob my father’s company, and planned his murder. The best part is that she admitted to you two planning to murder me. I have made twenty copies and placed them in mailboxes all over the neighborhood.” Mark knew this would put him into a blind rage, it wasn’t hard, because Roger was more than predictable.

Roger had stopped to listen to what the kid had said, it unnerved him a bit, and then he thought, he’s bluffing, so what if he did kill the bitch, he didn’t have anything on tape. This would just save him the trouble of killing her later for her half of the trust fund.

Roger then blurted. “You’re going to die, it’s gonna look like you killed her and tried to kill me. Who would know any better, you see it all the time on the news, teenagers losing it killing people. But first you’re gonna suffer.” Roger bumped the table on the midway point of the stairs; there was a small landing with an armchair, table, and a reading lamp.

Roger picked up the lamp pulled the chord free from the socket and began to slowly climb the stairs. He had it raised like some sort of deformed crystal baseball bat over his left shoulder.

Mark was wondering how long it had been since he had called the cops, maybe just a few minutes, but it seemed like so much longer. He heard Roger as he reached the third step from the top, then the second, and finally the top step. He was terrified, but at this point it was either him or Roger, and he wanted to live. Roger had ruined his life.

The anger swelled inside him and just as Roger made his move Mark exploded, he swung the bat. The bat had been a gift from his dad for his tenth birthday. It had been signed by all the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the last second Roger attempted to use the crystal lamp as a shield, the bat drove shards of crystal deep into his face while simultaneously destroying his nose.

Roger fell backwards against the railing, seemingly unconscious, Mark had believed attacking him would have made him feel joy, relief, anything, but what he felt. All he felt was pity, his adrenaline was pumping, his head thumped with it. He was going to kill Roger, but when he had him in his grasp helpless he just couldn’t bring himself to do it.

“I’m better than you,” he said to Roger who was still motionless. It was still dark and he didn’t see as Rogers eyelids began to flutter, as he turned towards his bedroom to get some rope to tie him up as he’d done his mother Roger leapt at his legs.

“Better than me?” He snarled. Mark fell flat on his face smashing his shattered nose, still clutching his bat.

Mark rolled to his back as Roger was trying to hold him and gain his feet at the same time, Mark began kicking wildly and one kick landed perfectly into Rogers’s throat, he heard a loud gasp. He used this brief pause on Roger’s part to gain his feet. Roger was half crouched against the railing gasping for breath, after a few seconds he straightened just as the sounds of sirens became audible in the distance.

Mark could not see Roger clearly, but the image, what he could make out, through the darkness and his diminished eyesight, due to such trauma to the nose was that of a monster. The crystal shards sticking out of his face made the effect far worse, and even more demonic. At this moment in time Mark was more scared than he’d ever been in his entire life. Frozen with fear, a crazy thought entered his mind, maybe he really is a demon. Mark began to shake.

Then as if in answer, he heard his father’s voice, warm and loving, telling him, “There are no such things as monster son, just monstrous people.” That was all Mark needed, he found his will, the terror passed, his hands steadied on the Louisville Slugger.

Roger not seeming to notice the sirens lunged forward again, this time he had found a piece of the lamp and was trying to use it as a weapon, “I’m going cut you into pieces you little prick.”

Mark swung and missed, Roger did not. Roger slashed across Mark’s chest leaving a long gash in his shirt. Mark could feel the blood start to flow down his stomach. He swung the bat again left handed this time connecting with Roger’s right elbow, there was a loud crack and Roger cried out.

Mark thought for sure with his arm broken, nose smashed, and face all cut up he would stop, but still he came. Mark swung the bat one last time; he connected the sweet spot perfectly with Roger’s teeth. Roger stumbled backwards; he was trying to curse through splintered teeth and a shattered jaw, all Mark heard was a sickening gurgling sound. He watched soundlessly as Roger’s lower back struck the railing, he didn’t move when he saw Roger’s feet leave the ground, he did nothing but wait. He heard the crash when Roger landed, then he ran down stairs and cut the breakers back on.

He came into the foyer walked over to where Roger’s corpse lay shattered and broken, the cops were in the neighborhood, they must have had a bit of trouble finding the place, because he thought they should have been here by now, it seemed Roger had been home hours, but he would never know. Time has an endless feel in the dark.

He examined Roger’s corpse for a moment, the feeling of pity had left replaced by relief. He almost laughed when a cartoon popped into his head he had watch long ago as a young child, where a cow had tried diving into a glass vase and its head had squished in to the shape of the vase with the body hanging out. Roger had found the real world did not work that way. The ceramic vase he landed heads first in nearly decapitated him.

He was sitting at the top of the stairs bleeding on his mother’s precious Ivory carpet when the cops sprang through the door. He had not even noticed he was covered in blood, the cut on his chest was bad, but not life threatening, but his nose was gushing blood.

“Son are you ok?” asked the first officer to reach him.

In a monotone Mark answered, “Its ok he’s dead now and she’s tied up, they can’t hurt anyone else ever again.” He handed the officer a CD case with bloody fingerprints on it, then passed out.

Eulogy Post III

newskull

Red 4

 

“What does this mean?” The woman was very pale, so much so, that she almost seemed to glow. Sandra was a peculiar sight, wearing a dark navy blue jogging suit. In the darkness all that was visible was her face, which made Red take a second look before approaching.

“I have no idea,” answered an equally pale gentleman. He was dressed in what appeared to be the exact same outfit. Something about these people was off; Red thought he should be cautious.

“Where is the manager,” asked Red as he came closer. Red was in his late fifties, but looked more like a healthy forty, with snow white hair, and a broad smile. “Why’s the power out?”

Startled at the new arrival, the pale woman bluntly replied, “Read the note.”

“Now Sandra let’s not be rude, we don’t know why the power’s out, but there is a note here.” The pale gentleman spoke kindly.

Red with a gleam in his eye, extended his hand, “I’m sorry, where are my manners, my name is Red.”

“I’m Phil and this is my wife Sandra,” hesitantly, he took Reds hand and gave it a feeble shake. Sandra just sneered.

Red then took the note and read it slowly.

 

     I apologize for the inconvenience, but due to the national crisis, I have gone home to be with my family.                                               

                                                                                        The Management

 

“Well that’s odd; wonder what he could have been talking about?” Red inquired.

“I don’t know.” Phil replied.

“My wife and I have been here nearly a week, and I haven’t seen a single newspaper, or watched a single news broadcast in all that time.” Red spoke, puzzled.

The campsite they were in was privately owned and the owners were real careful of who they rented to. They liked regular customers and cared little for profit. Their only concern was that the place stays nice. Red loved it; it didn’t have all the partiers to deal with like many of the other sites. He and his wife came down twice a year, once before spring and once at the end of summer. “All our other vacations are for spoiling our grandchildren,” Red liked to joke.

Red’s thoughts were interrupted when Phil offered, “Let’s check the radio in my RV, to hear the news.”

As they made their way to Phil’s RV they saw approaching headlights. The car slowed as it neared, then stopped, “Hey,” came the voice of a girl not more than 18 or 19 years old. “What’s happened, why are the lights off?” It was a dark moonless night and she was wary of coming any closer to these strangers in the dark.

“That’s what we are trying to find out,” replied Red.

“Did you see the note on the manager’s door?” snapped Sandra, apparently irritated at the girl’s arrival. Red thought again, something isn’t right with this woman.

“No, I’m not sure where the office is, I been here with my boyfriend.” sounding a little shocked by the woman’s tone.

Red interjected, “something’s happened, no need in going to the office, there is no one there to talk to. We are heading to this gentlemen’s RV to try and get the news on the radio.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“We don’t know yet.” answered Phil sweetly trying to make up for his wife’s rudeness.

“The note said there is a national crisis, but didn’t explain any further than that.” said Red.

“A national crisis,” the girl repeated, aloud. She then leaned back in her car and started scanning the stations, the auto scan cycled all the way through twice with nothing. She was starting to worry.

Red noting the girls looks of worry, offered, “You should go get your boyfriend and meet us back here so we can find out what is going on.”

“He’s gone,” she answered, and Red thought she was beginning to tear up.

The girl climbed into her car and began scanning the stations one at a time, after passing five stations she knew should have been there the radio locked onto one.

“This is a message from the emergency broadcast system, be advised all American citizens are to cease all movement. Say again, all American citizens are to cease all movement by order of The President of the United States of America. This is the only way to prevent the spread of the virus.” This message continued to loop playing over and over again chilling all four of them.

“Phil I’m going to get my wife and check the other camp sites to see if anyone else is here. I will meet you at your RV in 15 minutes.” Red said with the slightest hint of distress entering his voice.

The girl, disillusioned by what she had just heard quietly said, “He left,” as tears filled her eyes, “he went back to school last night.”

“What’s that?” Sandra snapped.

Red cut over Sandra’s unprovoked hostility towards the girl and asked, “Phil? Well is it ok if we meet at your RV?”

“Yeah sure,” answered Phil quietly dazed. He like the other three was trying to make sense of what he had just heard.

Red couldn’t help thinking that Sandra could care less if the whole world fell down so long as it didn’t affect her. She was mean, and although Red could get along with anyone on his worst day, he had an ominous feeling that this woman would be trouble, given the slightest opening.

“Sweetie my name’s Red, do you want to walk with me to get my wife?” Red wasn’t about to leave this vulnerable child with the closest real world example of the wicked witch he’d ever met.

From behind blurry tear streaked cheeks the girl answered, “Sure a walk would be nice, I need some air.” She wasn’t dressed nearly warm enough for the chill in the air, but seemed not to notice.

“My name’s Beth,” she sniffled trying to hold back the tears.

“Bethany or Elizabeth?” Asked Red knowing this would distract her momentarily from what was upsetting her. Red had been a psychologist for over thirty years, the last twenty of which had been devoted to children with severe emotional disorders. A simple case of heartache was not hard for him to spot.

“Bethany and I hate it.” She turned up her nose as if it left a bad taste in her mouth to say it.

“Well I think it is a beautiful name, it’s a shame you don’t go buy it. Where do you go to school?”

“UNC Wilmington, I’m a, well I am going to school to be a marine biologist.”

“Impressive, all my sons wanted at your age was to race cars.”

“How old are they?” She asked.

“I have two, one is twenty-seven, and the other is thirty-two.” Proudly he added, “I am a grandfather three times over.”

“I’ll be 20 in May. I can’t imagine having kids. You have to get married first. Well you don’t have to be, but my parents would kill me if that happened. I can’t even keep a boyfriend; much less find someone who’ll marry me.” She had started crying again as she finished telling him this.

“You know I really hope you don’t believe that. You seem like a perfectly normal girl to me, not to mention, but I will anyway, how beautiful you are. I know tons of guys who’d be proud to call you their own.”  Red answered emphatically.

Red had not exaggerated; Beth was a classic beauty, long perfect jet black hair, petite 5’1” maybe 105 lbs., big green eyes, and dimples to boot. She came across as a passionate person, the type when they enter a room; all around suddenly feel more alive.

“You really think so?” She asked, looking at Red for the first time since the beginning of the conversation.

“I most certainly do darling.” These words from Red brought the faintest hint of a smile to her face.

“This is it sweetie,” He then yelled at the darkened camper, “Sherry you in there?”

“Yeah sug, I’m here, haven’t left you yet. Did you bring home company?” Beth could see by the lantern light that this woman nearly in her sixties was both beautiful and kind like her husband. She had a reassuring smile that seemed to light up the abysmal night more than the lantern she carried.

“Hi I’m Beth, nice to meet you.” She shook Sherry’s hand.

“Looks like I should be more worried about you leaving me than me leaving you. My you sure are a pretty thing.” Even in the dim light Sherry could see the puffiness around the girl’s eyes. Like Red, Sherry would do anything for a smile.

Blushing, a bright crimson on her olive toned cheeks Beth said, “thank you.”

Red brought Sherry up to speed on what they had heard and Sherry and Beth went to meet at Phil’s.

Red set out to check the other camp sites. His search was fruitless as he had known it would be, considering the time of year. He and his wife always took an early vacation just before it really warmed up and one at the end of the summer when the weather begins to cool. He often told his friends it was the secret to their marriage. They’d been coming to this same campsite for over thirty years. Unbeknownst to them, being there is why they were still alive.

“The entire place is deserted, it is March after all.” Red said as he approached the lantern light outside Phil’s RV.

“We can’t get anything but that damn emergency services message.” Spouted Sandra irritated as if all this was their doing. The irritation in her voice was being replaced by panic.

“I’m going to try the radio in my car again,” said Beth. She too was beginning to feel panicked. Even Red seemed to become tenser.

“I’ll join you if that’s ok?” Sherry asked.

Beth didn’t answer, only nodded, fearing she would begin crying again. It was not heart break that threatened to renew her tears, and she was heartbroken. The kind words that had been spoken to her by Red had been like putting a large bandage on the pain. She was terrified, imagining the worst. She had never heard an EMS message that wasn’t just a drill before.

Beth and Sherry walked to where Beth had left her car, when they were inside Beth lit a cigarette and offered one to Sherry who accepted with a smile. “Red knows I smoke, usually only two or three a day. I haven’t had one since we’ve been here. He wouldn’t complain if I did smoke around him, but I don’t because I know it bothers him.”

“You two have the perfect marriage,” Beth was awestruck at how two people could be so sensitive to each other’s wants and needs.

Sherry laughed, “We’re not perfect honey. But we love each other and that is what matters. We each have our own quirks and we both work too much. That’s why we take these vacations. We take two each year to be alone together, and we use the holidays to see our children and grandbabies.”

“Still I envy you two,” she then thought of her own parents and the constant bickering and arguing.

“I know young people hate to hear stuff like this, but I am old enough to say it anyway. Your still a baby, Red and I didn’t even know each other when I was your age. You’ll find him one day when you least expect it. Sweetie, trust me.” Sherry squeezed Beth’s shoulder and gave a reassuring smile.

Beth cranked the car and slowly began to drive towards where she and Sherry had left Red talking with Phil and his wife. As she drove she scanned stations, and just as they arrived, the radio stopped on a low FM station. She had to back up and pull forward a few times, but finally got the station in good enough to understand it. It was still muffled with static.

“Hey guys come over here we got a station playing music, maybe there will be some news.” Beth tried to get the station in even better, but settled afraid anymore attempts may cause them to lose the station altogether.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, it’s the end of the world as we know it,” came Michael Stipe’s voice through the crackling speakers. Everyone was gathered impatiently waiting for the song to end.

The song ended and the static seemed amplified for a brief moment which hurt their ears, but no one made a move to turn down the volume. “This is K-D-E-D radio for the dead and dying.” The voice was haggard and had a menacing quality. They all exchanged uneasy glances as they listened.

“This has got to be some sick fucking joke!” Screamed Sandra, her eyes had become animal like in the darkness, as if she were ready to attack at any moment. She was hushed by all even her husband.

Then they heard through the static the obvious sounds of retching and someone gagging. Then after about thirty seconds of static only, “considering that everyone is dead I guess I’ll do the weather. Well the five day forecast is as follows, Monday 99% chance of death, Tuesday 99% chance of death, well fuck seems like 99% chance of death all week. Is there no one listening?” The voice pleaded to them through the speakers.

“I would say call in if you were listening, but the phones are out. The powers out too, all up and down the east coast.” He began to choke and vomit once again.

After a brief silence, “To recap ladies and gentlemen, thirty US cities have been nuked and everyone has a mutated form of what appears to be the Ebola Virus. At least that is what the news said. I am dying, can anyone hear me?”

The voice sounded desperate and delirious and the signal was weakening. “I don’t know if anyone can hear me but my generator is dying so signing off for this life. This is K-D-E-D radio for the dead and dying.” They heard crying and more choking. Then nothing but static blared at them through the speakers.