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August 23, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Suicide Prep

[Posted by Ted H]

Obviously, my updates are gonna get longer. The whole 1st act is written for this story and I want it all up before NaNoWriMo...


[Race for Safe Haven - Suicide Prep]

            Williams prepared the shots while Mike, Rhett, Matt, Steve and Tara stood before him. "You'll feel lightheaded and a little nauseous, all perfectly expected," he said as he inserted the first needle into Mike's arm "In about an hour you should be good to go." He pushed the liquid into Mike, who tensed up and hissed at the feeling.
            "This didn't exist beforehand?" Mike asked "So how did you come up with it so quickly?" Williams avoided eye contact as he withdrew the needle and moved on. "You should rest for now," he said as he grabbed another vial. Mike shook his head as he walked away. Williams finished injecting everyone and set himself up to look out a window, alone.
            Rhett and Tara made their way over to him later. "You worked in those labs, right?" Rhett asked. Williams nodded. "Looking for a cure," he said "Any way we could."
            "Did you know all the scientists there?" Rhett asked.
            "We became...familiar with each other, yes."
            "Was there a guy there named Luke Harris?"
            Williams stopped and looked at Rhett quizzically "Not on the team, but there was a Harris there. Why? Did you know him?"
            "Did?" Rhett asked "You mean he's dead?"
            "I'm afraid everyone from there is dead, save for myself and Brandon."
            "Did his family make it?"
            "I don't know. I was a little preoccupied. I didn't care much for the living at the time. Maybe Brandon would know."
            "Where is he?"
            "Downstairs, preparing for the trip."
            "He's coming with us?"
            "I'm not making the trip, and you sure as shit won't make it without one of us helping."
            Rhett nodded as Tara sat down next to Williams. "So it's obvious you were bit," she said "How long ago?"
            "Last night," Williams said "We thought we were in a safe place for the night, but those things still got in."
            "You look good for about 12 hours infected," Rhett said.
            "The inoculation," Williams said "It's how I truly know it won't stop infection spreading through bites."
            "Slows it down?" Tara asked.
            "Something like that," Williams said "Makes it work harder to kill you. Waterhouse-Friderichsen is manageable, but this's something else. It's different. Something else in there is making it unstoppable and more powerful. I wish I had the time left to find out what."
            "How long do you have?"
            "That's the beauty of my situation. I have no idea. The only test to run for my interest at this point is to see how much time the inoculation can buy someone bitten afterwards."
            "At least you're looking at the bright side," Tara said.
            "There is no bright side," Williams said "Your friend will be dead within a day. Before the world fell, she would've had more time. With an inoculation, she would have had more time."
            "Then why didn't we give her a shot?" Tara said "You just said we could find more! We could have afforded one of these five shot to her. It would have bought her time."
            "Time to what? Die?" Williams said with a condescending look "To struggle around for a few more days as a burden? There might be a hundred more shots waiting at the lab and I still wouldn't have bothered wasting one on a dying girl. There are people out there who need it. There will always be people out there who need it more than someone who is pretty much already dead."
            "You're an ass," Tara said "A heartless, evil ass."
            "You have no idea the things done that ensured the creation of the inoculants," Williams said "Of what we did to ensure that humanity might survive this plague. And the last thing we want is for any of our effort to be wasted on the dying, not while there are living people out there who could benefit from this. If it were up to me, only four of the injections I had with me would have been used."
            "Had plans for that last vial?" Rhett asked.
            "You two, Mike and Steve all seem like strong people. The scrawny guys and the fat girl, I guarantee you they won't make it to Safe Haven. I believe we should only vaccinate the strong with our limited supplies. But since my opinion will no longer be relevant after about a week or two, then it doesn't matter who gets saved for the short term."
            "Brandon disagree with you?" Rhett asked.
            "He thinks our supplies are infinite," Williams responded "That making more is as simple as finding water at a lake. He's a smart kid, he just thinks he knows better than everyone else. It'll get him killed. Hopefully, it'll be just him who dies for it."
            Tara huffed and stood up, finally sick of Williams' attitude. Rhett walked with her. "Where are you going now?" he asked. "I dunno," she said "Help Brandon I guess. I know Mike went down to help earlier." Rhett looked off in the direction of the room Jenny was in. "Ya know," he said "Williams said Jenny probably won't last the night, and I don't know how long this trip we're planning is going to take..."
            "Get to the point," Tara demanded.
            "You don't want to say goodbye?"
            Tara stared at Rhett a moment. "...No," she finally said "It won't change anything."
            "Why? After all that stuff you said last night about not being able to say goodbye to Danielle-"
            "And she isn't Danielle!"
            "You're right, she's Jenny. And at one point, all Jenny had was you and vice versa."
            "It would mean something to her."
            "Look, I know this won't make you get over missing your wife's death, ultimately I don't think that's something anyone could get over. But intentionally tuning out the people you care about in similar moments isn't the answer. You're not protecting yourself from more hurt, you're just inviting another ghost to feel guilty about and follow you. I've seen what the guilt over your wife is doing to you, and I don't want to see you get any worse."
            "What do you care for?" Tara asked.
            "Asshole or not, some of us want you around," Rhett said as he walked away, leaving Tara alone to walk to Jenny. Rhett watched her disappear into Jenny's room and shut the door before he turned on his flashlight and went down the dark staircase. By time he reached the bottom step, he could hear Mike calling out orders.
            As Rhett walked over, he saw Mike, Steve and Matt emptying out the station wagon. "We taking that car?" Rhett asked. "It's more narrow than your car," Mike said "And Brandon said there's a gap in the fence we can squeeze through with this car. It's the best way in."
            "Okay," Rhett said slowly "And where is Brandon?" Mike pointed with his flashlight to the front. Rhett walked over to where they came in and heard a noise. Following it, he saw daylight and found Brandon peeking through a door to the outside. "What are you doing?" Rhett asked. Brandon checked behind himself and saw it was only Rhett. "Just checking out there," Brandon said "Mike having you check up on me?"
            "," Rhett said "Problem?"
            "Guy's an asshole."
            "Not gonna argue with you on that."
            "You know he wanted me to help in whatever the hell those guys are doing out there? He tried ordering me around."
            "And...I give up. Why is he an asshole for that?"
            "This whole operation hinges on my being able to correctly lead you to the lab. I'm in charge. Just do what I say and we all make it back on one piece."
            "...Right. Mike is in charge of the car though."
            "So he can pick the radio station. I call the shots here."
            "Whatever," Rhett found himself saying "I dunno why I'm even defending him. Once this thing is over, he's sending me away."
            "For what?"
            "I apparently don't mesh well with the entire group."
            "Fuck that. I saw you shooting the deadheads while rescuing us. If Mike wants to dump you from the group, he's a fucking idiot."
            "No argument here."
            "Does everyone hate you?"
            "Nah. Tara's been cool so far. That's the only person who seems to have my back all the time."
            "You're not doing her, are you?"
            Rhett paused a moment. "No," he said "Why?"
            "Just asking," Brandon said in defense "Just saying. I wouldn't get too attached to any pussy out here. Once we get to Safe Haven, there'll be hotter selection."
            "So it's just her? Everyone else hates your guts?"
            "A bunch of the others are touch and go. Laura's a cunt."
            "Oh my Gooooood," Brandon said with a smile "I wanna slap the fat off her face!"
            As both men laughed, Mike approached and shined his flashlight at them. "Are we ready?" he asked, annoyed at having to track them down. "Yeah, we're ready," Rhett said as he and Brandon followed Mike back to the cars. Steve and Matt were waiting as Tara and Jason emerged from the stairwell.
            "So how are we doing this?" Rhett asked. "Brandon and I up front," Mike said "The rest of you situate yourselves in the back. "The back seat could only fit three," Steve said "Someone's going to have to lay in the trunk space. He, Rhett and Tara quickly said "Not it!" in unison, leaving Matt to give a shocked expression before he dropped his shoulders and resigned to his fate in the back of the car.

August 17, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - No Cure

[Posted by Ted H]

About 2 and a half months to go before NaNoWriMo and I've no idea what to write. Either continue "Race for Safe Haven" or write a new "James Blake" novel...choices, choices, choices...

Either way, I have enough RfSH updates to cover the gap between now and November.
10 more Sundays. Include my MLB awards joke and a Halloween special, that's 8 more Safe Haven updates.


[Race for Safe Haven - No Cure]

            "Almost there," Tara said as she helped Jenny to the stairwell through the dark "You can rest at the stairs." Jenny struggled to talk clearly and Tara couldn't understand it, but Jenny made no effort to stop her journey. "This place is safe," Rhett said as he walked over, slinging his shotgun around his back "Need help?"
            "I got it," Tara said. They reached the stairwell and Tara dropped Jenny onto the bottom step. Jenny put her head low and tried to rest. "Most of the group is keeping their distance," Rhett said "You're not afraid of getting sick?"
            "If I did, I'd deserve it," Tara said as she shined her flashlight up the stairs to see what she and Jenny had left to traverse. "You can't keep beating yourself up," Rhett said, but Tara ignored him. "C'mon," she said to Jenny "The sooner we do this, the sooner you can rest." She reached for Jenny's arm and helped her lift to her feet. "I can get Steve," Rhett said "Probably go a lot easier." Again, Tara ignored him. Rhett followed them up the stairs and onto the second floor, where everyone was standing around moping.
            "Problem?" Rhett asked.
            "The Guard outpost over here was overrun," Matt said.
            "How do you know?"
            "Because these two are all that's left of it."
            Rhett looked over to Mike who seemed disheartened by the news. Tara moved with Jenny further in, looking for a soft spot to drop Jenny off. "What's wrong with her?" Brandon asked, noticing Jenny's sick look. "Infected," Mike said without looking up. "Was she bit?" Brandon asked, looking Jenny over and not seeing any blood. "No," Mike said "Why does it matter? She's dead anyway."
            "She wasn't bit!" Brandon shouted to Williams "Where's your bag? Maybe it's not too late!" Williams hobbled over to Jenny and motioned Tara to follow him. He led her to a desk where Jenny could lie down. Brandon followed with the messenger bag, but Williams motioned for him to hold on. He checked Jenny's pulse, felt her head for her fever and looked at her eyes with a flashlight.
            "What do you mean by it's not too late?" Matt asked Brandon.
            "There's a cure," Brandon said with a smile.
            "It's not a cure!" Williams quickly corrected him "It's an inoculation. It prevents you from getting sick by most means, maybe even reverse the disease in its early stages."
            "Wait," Tara said, a troubled look on her face "There was an inoculation? Why the fuck is this just now being made?"
            "It didn't exist when this all started," Brandon explained "The best scientists DC had to offer made it. They released the recipe to all the shelters so they could make their own. The plan was to vaccinate everyone before we sent them to Safe Haven."
            "Were you one of those scientists?" Laura asked Williams.
            "I wish," Williams said "I'm not nearly smart enough for that. But I was smart enough to follow directions, and replicate properly."
            "So that prevents people from getting infected?" Jason asked.
            "Yes and no," Williams said "Airborne infections as well as minute doses acquired from insects and similar sources are no longer a problem. Now simply being in a room with an infected is no longer a major risk. You can still get sick though. There's no defense against bites unfortunately, or any large amount of infection getting into your bloodstream. And open sores are still a potential death sentence."
            "What about Jenny?" Tara asked.
            Williams took another moment longer to look her over before stepping away. "I'm afraid her infection has progressed too far," he said "I'm sorry. Giving her an inoculation would only be a waste of a dose at this point, and we have far too few to spare."
            "We might as well use what we have left if these people are susceptible still," Brandon said. Williams nodded and Brandon opened the bag and pulled out a metal case. "How many do we even have left?" Williams asked as Brandon pulled out all the full vials and counted. "Five," he said "That's all we have left."
            Silence filled the room as the seven healthy people all eyed each other. Rhett watched Mike look at each and every person in the group, struggling to make a decision in his head. "How hard is it to make more?" Jason asked. "Without a working lab?" Williams said "Not happening. With a working lab? Not enough time to synthesize if you're already infected."
            "So what you're saying is two of us are going to die," Mike said as Williams nodded.
            "I don't wanna die!" Laura exclaimed as she stuck her arm out to reach for a vial from Brandon.
            "No way," Jason stepped in "What good are you lately? The ones to get it should be the most likely to survive out there."
            "Then that rules you both out," Steve said.
            "Guys!" Matt cried out while stepping between everyone and Brandon "Let's try to figure this out without fighting like animals!" Everyone settled down for a moment while Matt continued "There's no easy way to do this. Unless we get volunteers, then we need to convince two of us to pretty much wait to die."
            "Well, actually just one of us will have to die," Laura said as she pointed to Rhett "Why is he still here?"
            "Excuse me?" Rhett said.
            "We're in Albany. That was the deal; Get to Albany, then we cut you loose. Well, we're in Albany. Goodbye."
            "Fuck. You," Rhett said "If you think for a minute that I'm leaving here without a vial, just because you don't like me..."
            "What are you gonna do about it?" Laura asked as she stepped closer to Rhett "Shoot me like Eric?"
            "Shoot who?" Williams asked.
            "I'm not committing suicide just so your fat ass can continue to leech off the apocalypse," Rhett said.
            "You don't have a choice," Laura said with a grin "We got you to Albany, now git!"
            "If you think I'm above going through you to survive this shit..."
            Laura scrunched her face up and slowly pulled her knife out from behind her back. "No fucking way!" Tara said as she got in Laura's face "You are not escalating this. He will fucking kill you, and have every right to. Just like he had every right to kill Eric. You want to act like the right choices are easy to make in all this? Here's an easy choice; none of us should live through this!"
            "There might be more!" Brandon yelled. "What?" Mike asked as Brandon nodded towards Williams. Williams sighed as he looked to Tara before looking Mike in the eyes. "Possibly," he said "The lab at the shelter, they may have been able to put aside a quantity of inoculate before things deteriorated. If I'm wrong though, then I'm sending you into the heart of zombie-central with no real prospects."
            Everyone looked to Mike as he weighed the options. "We don't survive without these shots," he said "I'm going for it. I can't make anyone go with me though."
            "Then we inoculate you first," Williams said "The labs are so inundated with infection that the only way you survive entering is if you get the shot. Anyone going with you gets a shot as well."
            "So taking the suicide mission is the only way to get the shot?" Laura asked, her arms in the air "That's not fair!"
            "It's not your call to make," Rhett said as he stepped forward "I'm in." Matt quickly volunteered as well as Steve. Laura stayed back with her arms folded. Jason was reluctant  to join, prompting Tara to instead join. "What a waste of a anti-virus," Laura said as she walked away in a mood.

August 9, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Albany

[Posted by Ted H]

I don't know who I think I am, but I actually busted out a nice short story ahead of time for my Halloween post this year...Gives me extra time to prepare for NaNoWriMo this year...go figure...


[Race for Safe Haven - Albany]

            The next morning the group assembled in the living room. Steve easily carried Jenny in his arms. "I'm not riding in the infected mobile," Laura demanded. "But what if you're infected already from being in the car all day with her?" Jason said "You're asking someone else get infected? You were right next to her. Either you can't get infected so easily, or you're already sick and should just suck it up."
            "People!" Mike called with his arms raised "Jenny's going back into the station wagon and I'm still there too. "I'll drive it this time," Steve announced "Everyone else can ride in with Rhett for now." Mike nodded as he opened the door and checked. "Clear," he said as he moved forward. Rhett, Matt and Jason trailed with the bags and loaded up the cars while Steve laid Jenny into the backseats of the station wagon.
            "Shotgun!" Laura called. "No," Rhett said as he blocked her and let Tara walk freely to the front seat. "Why not?" Laura protested. "Because I don't need you eating next to me," Rhett said as he walked to the other side and got in. "Asshole," Laura said as she got into the back with Matt and Jason.
            With a little struggling, Steve was able to drive the station wagon off of the grass and back onto the road with Rhett easy following in his SUV. The final leg of the trip to Albany was underway. There were no more games nor much happening in the way of conversations. Every plan, major or minor, hinged on what happened when they arrived at Albany, and whether or not anyone living were there for them.
            As they neared the capital, more and more abandoned cars began to accumulate on the sides of the road, at first leading towards Albany, but they noticed there were now abandoned cars heading away as well. "No help coming," was written on one car headed away from the city, giving Rhett an uneasy feeling about the city.
            "We should go now," Matt said in the back "While we still can.
            "And go where?" Jason asked.
            "We could try Buffalo," Rhett said, keeping an eye on the abandoned cars that were now sitting in the middle of the road. The density in the streets was growing.
            "No," Matt said "We head to Atlanta."
            "After we pick someone up," Rhett said.
            "I thought we were just gonna head for Safe Haven?" Laura asked.
            "Nah," Tara said "First Rhett has to get his BFF."
            "Who cares about that," Laura said "We're in Albany. Mike says this is where we cut the psycho loose."
            "Let's find the National Guard first," Jason said, irritated at Laura.
            They passed a sign welcoming them to Albany. All eyes not concentrated on driving were immediately looking off in every direction, seeking any sign of refuge or indication of where to go. All anyone could see were blood and dead bodies. "What happened here?" Tara asked as Rhett drove around the piles of dead. "Looks like a battle," Jason said, noting the bullet casings and empty guns on the ground.
            "Mike knows where to go, right?" Rhett asked as Tara shrugged. "I suppose," she said as Matt sat forward. "He's got it marked on a map," he said as everyone flinched at the sound of a gunshot. "What was that?" Jason asked. "I don't know," Rhett said. "Where did it come from?" Tara asked. "I don't know," Rhett said. "Is it coming? Are we safe here?" Laura asked. "I. Don't. Know," Rhett shouted as he drove up and pulled even with the station wagon ahead and rolled down his window.
            "Was that your National Guard?" Rhett called out.
            "I don't know," Mike responded "But it might be worth checking out."
            They sat in the middle of the street and listened for another gunshot. When it sounded, it was followed with several more shots. "Follow me!" Rhett yelled and without waiting, he drove off in the direction of the shots. A few blocks later, Rhett didn't need to listen anymore as several zombie were now zeroing in on the direction as well.
            Around the next corner, they noticed a large gathering of zombies chasing two people running together. One man was shouldering the other as they stumbled frantically down the street. "We gotta do something," Tara said. Rhett looked at the mass of zombies and tried to figure a plan to get in and out of there with the survivors.
            "Tara, drive," Rhett said as he exited the car.
            "Where the fuck are you going?" Tara shouted as Rhett ran to the rear of the car and opened the window to the trunk. Next he opened the trunk door and climbed in before closing the trunk. He readied his shotgun and held it out the back window as he turned to look for Tara who was finishing her climb into the driver's seat.
            "Get ahead of them, then stop," he yelled "We're no good to them from behind." Tara nodded and hit the gas just as Steve driving the station wagon caught up. Rhett motioned for him to keep up as they drove away. Tara honked on the horn as she drove, getting the attention of as many zombies as possible as the group slowly began to cut the distance between the two running men.
            "Keep it steady!" Rhett shouted as he one handed a handgun and began firing into the crowd as he passed. He noticed the puzzled looks on the two men's faces as he went passed and Tara stopped the car. "Move it!" he yelled as he dropped the handgun and aimed the shotgun. Rhett waved Steve to drive passed the SUV, allowing him clear aim to cover the two men. "They're coming from the front, too!" Tara yelled but Rhett ignored her as he waved for the men to come in through the back.
            The one man getting shouldered reached the trunk and handed Rhett a heavy messenger bag. He then tried jumping in beside Rhett through the opening but only got halfway. The other man, shouldering an assault rifle, rushed to the passenger side door and got in while Rhett fired off a few rounds into the hoard to keep them at bay. With one arm he pulled the man hanging out before shouting "Go!"
            Tara floored the gas pedal to catch up to Steve, who was slowly making his way up the street to avoid the zombies making their way over from the opposite direction. The man in the back with Rhett laid on some supply bags while he repeated "Holy shit," and tried to catch his breath. "Williams!" the man in the front with Tara shouted "You still with me, Williams?"
            "Yeah," Williams said between gasps of breaths "I am." He then searched around momentarily with his eyes until he saw his messenger bag and threw his arms around it. "Are you hurt?" Rhett asked, eyeing the wet bloodstains on the man's clothing. "Just...Just give us a moment," he said. "We get to the safe spot first," the man up front said. "Do you know the way?" Tara asked as the man nodded and said "First we just need to lose the deadheads." Tara drove passed the station wagon as Rhett motioned for Steve to follow.
            Some time later, no longer trailed by the dead, the group drove up to the rear of a warehouse. The man climbed out of the front of Rhett's car and ran over to the shipping entrance with a set of keys and unlocked the padlock and chain. He threw open the door and allowed both cars to drive in before entering and pulling the door closed behind him. Using flashlights and car lights, the group lit up the dark room and grabbed as much equipment as they could before heading for a stairwell and headed up a floor to where there were windows and natural light.
            "No one else is here," the one man said. "The last I saw Kristie, she was bit and heading towards a dead end with a dozen of those things tailing," Williams said "There's no way she'd make it. Maybe Clyde made it. You said you gave him a key?" The man shook his head. "We went in the entirely wrong direction at first," he said "If Clyde was still alive..."
            "Uh," Mike interrupted "Hi?" The two men looked at Mike, with Steve, Jason, Laura and Matt behind him. Rhett was still downstairs with a flashlight making sure the warehouse perimeter was safe while Tara was with Jenny, trying to at least get her out of the station wagon. Williams waved to everyone in front of him. "You have my sincerest thanks," he said "I'm Dr. Erik Williams. This is Brandon. Thank you for saving us."
            Williams was dressed in a dark gray t-shirt with the left sleeve ripped off to accommodate some bandages. He had bandaging around his right forearm and wrist, but it didn't seem as bad as the bandaging on his left shoulder that had blood leaking through and oozing into his shirt. The fact that he couldn't easily walk on his right foot raised a few eyebrows as well. He wore thin, round glasses on his face and his light brown hair was messy and had a patch clumpy with blood.
            Brandon stood nearby him in a white jacket stained all over with blood, none of it seemed to be his own. He wore black cargo pants that were filled to capacity with various ammo clips. Under his jacket he wore a holster with a revolver inside and single bullets strapped. Around his body he wore an assault rifle that he kept his hands on at all times, just in case.
            Mike walked over and shook Williams' hand. After introducing everyone, Mike asked "How big was your group? Maybe those people are still out there. It wouldn't be too much trouble to help try and find them." Williams put his hand up with a warm smile. "Appreciated," he said "But not necessary. The fact that Brandon and myself remain is quite the miracle.
            Mike nodded along, only half caring about the answers coming from Williams. It wasn't that he wasn't interested, but rather he was looking for an easy segway. There was only one reason anyone would still be in Albany, and Mike was itching to get to the important information, maybe even add the two of them to his group, which would make survival all the more likely. "Where you heading for the National Guard outpost as well?" Mike asked, already envisioning how useful a doctor and a guy with an assault rifle could be.
            "The outpost to Safe Haven?" Williams asked, elating Mike. "Yes!" he said enthusiastically "The lot of us have each come a long ass way, believe me. We can help you get there as well. There's more than enough room." Brandon and Williams exchanged looks before Williams looked back to Mike. "Uh oh," Matt said "Should we be sitting down for this?"

August 2, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Sleepover

Short story in the works*.....and if my habits are any indication, that means NaNoWriMo is coming...coming soon...

*more info as it develops...

[Race for Safe Haven - Sleepover]

            There were three bedrooms in the house. Jason and Laura split sides on the king size bed in the master bedroom while Mike and Matt each took the remaining beds. Jenny was eventually moved to a small couch in an add on room in the back and after tossing and turning in pain for a comfortable position, she was finally asleep. The only room in the house with light was the kitchen where Matt was trying to scratch something together in candlelight. In the front of the house, Tara sat in a chair on lookout, watching the rain fall outside while wiping away the occasional tear, an empty vodka bottle from the house's liquor cabinet lying nearby.
            Rhett was in the back of the room, looking down on his phone. On the screen was a message from Jake; "Are U dead yet?" Rhett smiled to himself as he texted his friend back. He informed Jake that he would be in Albany tomorrow and would know then what the situation would be. Jake meanwhile was nowhere near Buffalo yet, but he insisted he was making progress. Content, Rhett put his phone away and focused on the scene Tara was providing.
            "You're taking this pretty hard for someone who didn't know her before all this went down," Rhett said as he walked over, beer in hand, and leaned next to the window. "I should have known," Tara said while not breaking her gaze from the window. "I'm more hung up about how we're probably all infected and just aren't showing it yet," Rhett said as he took a drink "Like one by one we're all gonna start dying. By time we get to Safe Haven it won't even matter."
            Tara shrugged. "It might be better that way," she said as she leaned back and played with something at the end of her necklace. "Alright," Rhett said "I'll bite. What's really going on?" Tara looked up at Rhett as he noticed it was a wedding ring she was playing with. "I was married," she said. "Rhett waited silently for her to continue.
            "Her name was Danielle," she said. "I'm not gay," she quickly added "She was though, I was bi. We were in love though, so we were going to make it work. We were happy..." she trailed off, Rhett unsure if she was trying to convince herself of that last sentence. "There was this guy, AJ, I used to see," she continued "In and out of jail, always lying, we always fought. I was bad for him and he was terrible for me, but we always found a way back to each other. I met Danielle during one of our "breaks" and we fell in love.
            "AJ didn't like it. He would try to muscle back into my life but Danielle would help me reject him. I loved them both, and it was Danielle I wanted to be with, but I still found my way back to AJ from time to time. One time she found out I was seeing him and threatened to leave. She didn't, and I cut AJ back out of my life. This time though..." she stopped to compose herself as she tried to avoid crying "AJ came back and I...I don't know what I was thinking. I just wanted to get with him one more time.
            "One more time. I always told myself that. One more time and he's gone forever. One more time, then I'd tell him to leave. One more time and then Danielle and I can finally move on. Well, this one more time, Danielle caught us again and she flipped. I didn't even know it until I came home to find her gone, a note left on the kitchen counter.
            "She said she needed to get away from me. She was going to her sisters until she figured out what she wanted to do next. She left the ring. Of course the first thing my dumb ass does is run to AJ about it. Even with her gone and AJ going on about how the two of us can now live the life he imagined, all I could think of was her. Still, it took me two weeks to work up the balls to go to her sisters."
            Tara stopped and closed her eyes, like she was struggling with a painful memory she was uncovering. "What happened then?" Rhett asked after a moment, snapping Tara back to the present. "She wasn't there," Tara said "She was in the hospital. Her and her sister were both sick with the epidemic and were taken away. The neighbors didn't know which hospital and I wasn't able to figure out the right one until the world was already in chaos. I needed help to get there, to find Danielle, but everyone I knew was gone or heading for the shelters. AJ refused to help and left on his own, abandoning me after I lost everyone else in my life because I refused to abandon him first.
            "I don't know how she got infected. Maybe her sister was sick first, and Danielle was able to catch it because I drove her away, pretty much to her death. Or maybe she was always sick, and her sister got the infection that was meant for me. Neither one is a very comforting thought. But the worst feeling of all is the fact that I wasn't there for Danielle at the end. She died all alone and I never got to say goodbye."
            Tara bowed her head down for a moment, streams of tears beginning to cascade down her face. "I ran into Jenny not long after, and she seemed so much like Danielle it was eerie. I thought this was a chance to be there for Danielle when I should have been. And now she's dead too and there is nothing I can do about it."
            "What could you have done?" Rhett asked "It could have happened to anyone."
            "But it happened to her," Tara said "She was my redemption for Danielle and the universe is snatching her away and taking another shit on me."
            "You're not mad because she got sick," Rhett said "You're mad because she died without you having a chance to atone. If she really loved you, I don't think she would have cared at the end."
            "If I really loved her," Tara said "She wouldn't have felt the need to leave." Tara dropped her head back and closed her eyes. Rhett tried to talk to her some more before he realized she was passed out. "We're all terrible people," he said to the sleeping girl "Doesn't mean we can't redeem ourselves, even if the people we're redeeming ourselves for are gone." Rhett looked about in the darkness for the liquor cabinet and rummaged through it to find something harder to drink. Whiskey in hand, he made his way to the kitchen and found Matt sitting at the table with a bowl.
            "How's Tara?" Matt asked as Rhett looked for a glass and went to sit down across the table. "Sleeping," Rhett said as he poured.
            "Who's on lookout then?" Matt asked.
            "We're locked in a house out in the sticks, we're fine tonight."
            "Mike won't like it."
            "Mike is asleep. I'll wake Steve up in a bit if you're so worried."
            "I think someone should play lookout with Jenny."
            "Where's she going?"
            "Well when she does die..."
            "Damn," Rhett said as he sipped his drink "How long you think she has?"
            "She doesn't look too good," Matt said "Anything she eats, comes right back up. We have no ice or anything cold to help with the fever. I'd say maybe a couple of days. As long as she doesn't start coughing up blood, she'll last the night."
            "That's pretty informed."
            "Jenny taught me the signs. I think she used to be a nurse or something."
            "It just seems one day is too fast to deteriorate."
            "We've been scraping by on uncooked food and anything in a can. Not to mention us always being on the move. Jenny was a little bit of a thing, malnourished to begin with. I wouldn't be surprised if we all got sick by this time next week."
            "The dead are carriers, and they're everywhere now. More than one way to kill us."
            "We don't last long enough to get to Safe Haven unless we fly," Matt said "Like you said, the infected are everywhere which means this infection is everywhere. Even if we're perfectly healthy and 100%, we'd be guaranteed to get sick long before we get to California. We just can't last long under constant exposure."
            "So what if Albany is a bust?" Rhett asked.
            "I've been thinking about it. If Albany fails, we should head for Georgia. The CDC is right outside of Atlanta. If anyone has a cure, the CDC would know. They were working on one before all this happened."
            "What makes you think we can make that trip?"
            "It just seems like a better idea than trying to get somewhere twice as far away."
            "I was thinking that if everyone's dead, maybe there's an unused helicopter we can borrow."
            "Can you fly one?"
            "No. Can you?"
            " How hard could it be to learn?"
            "You want to try and learn on the fly?" Both men laughed.
            "I got it," Rhett said "Make you a deal. I fly the chopper, you figure out how to navigate to Atlanta."
            "What about Mike?"
            "We can let him lead his road trip to California."

July 19, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Sick

[Posted by Ted H]

This post is brought to you by: Ted remembering he can schedule posts in advance. In reality, I'm either working an inventory on no sleep, done with the inventory and sleeping...or dead. All 3 are viable options at this point...


[Race for Safe Haven - Sick]

            The trip back west didn't last long before they were driving into a crowd of zombies that were trailing them. Up ahead, Matt was nimbly trying to drive around the dead, darting from one end of the road to another in attempt to keep the zombies off of him. Rhett mean while hung back for a moment, allowing the station wagon to get some distance away from him.
            "Somebody keep score for me," Rhett said as he lit up a new cigarette. "Score for what?" Tara asked as Rhett hit the gas and drove into the closest zombie. "That's one!" Rhett announced as he swerved to sideswipe the next zombie in his path. Instead of trying to avoid the dead, Rhett was trying to hit as many as he could, while cutting down the distance to the station wagon. Tara and Jason were excitedly announcing ascending numbers as Rhett drove all over the place and Steve fumbled his seat belt into position.
            One zombie smacked into Jason's side so hard that it cracked the window, eliciting cheers from everyone in the car. "Ugh," Rhett said, realizing he just damaged his car "That's gonna be a bitch to fix." The final zombie was dead ahead, and Rhett floored the gas pedal and plowed right into it, sending it up and over the car, crashing fatally on its head behind them. A tremendous roar sounded as the car practically shook from all the celebrating.
            The group grew quiet as the trip now became zombie free. Mike eventually found his detour and the group soon found themselves traveling east again. At some point towards the evening, Rhett looked to a road sign the signified the capital was close, but defiantly not reachable before dark as it started to lightly rain. Eventually, in a sparse residential area, Mike stuck his hand out the window as they drove and indicated they were going to pull over just as the rain was beginning to pick up.
            The chosen house was a sizable two story place with a front porch and yellow paint job. There were no cars in the driveway and it didn't look like anyone had made any attempt to barricade themselves inside. There was no driveway, so they parked on the front lawn right in front of the porch. They backed in so they could immediately drive out if need be. Rhett easily parked into position, while Matt struggled to drive the old station wagon through the muddy grass.
            "Is this rain just passing through, or is it going to get worse?" Jason asked as he got out and looked up to the falling rain. "I dunno," Rhett said "I forgot to check the one month apocalypse forecast."  Tara stood in the rain and smiled. Mike checked the street before nodding back to the others. "Let's get inside," he said.
            "I got this," Tara announced as she ran up to the front door with her crowbar. She was about to ram the crowbar into the door when Rhett grabbed her arm and stopped her. He reached with his other hand and tried the doorknob, opening it easily. "Upstate people," Rhett said with a smile "They don't lock their doors too often." Tara made a face as she lowered the crowbar.
            Mike and Matt moved passed and entered the house, guns drawn. "Rhett, keep an eye out," Mike said as he disappeared inside. Rhett held his shotgun while he leaned against the house and watched the others. Steve and Jason were rummaging through the trunks and pulling out bags to take inside with them. They tossed bags to Laura and Tara nearby. "Rhett, you wanna help?" Laura asked, trying to keep her balance under a pile of bags. Rhett ignored her as he looked to the station wagon.
            Jenny was still in her car. The rain came down harder as everyone else hustled themselves and the bags under the cover of the porch. "Ya know, Jenny might be more comfortable inside," Rhett said as he watched her stir, but not make any motion to leave the station wagon. "I'll get her," Jason said as he walked back into the rain, Rhett and Tara right behind him.
            "Jenny?" Tara asked as Jason opened her door. Jenny had been leaning against it, and made no effort to save herself as she fell out of the car and to the ground. "Oh my God," Tara said as she and Jason tried helping her up. Rhett looked at her as she was raised. She was pale and her eyes had a distant look in them. After moving a few feel, she stopped and dropped herself to the ground so she could vomit up what little contents her stomach contained.
            "What's wrong with her?" Laura called out from the porch "Is she sick?" Jenny tried to catch her breath and almost fell over if not for Tara and Jason. She groaned from pain as she was lifted back up and carried to the porch, Rhett chaperoning the way. "I..." Jenny tried talking, but stopped to dry heave at the steps. Steve stepped towards her and put his hand to her forehead. He then took a big step back from her as a worried look washed over his face.
            "What's going on?" Mike asked as he stepped out from the house. Steve turned to look at him and shook his head. "Jenny..." he started as he turned to look at her, more to try to convince himself he was wrong with what he was about to say "She's infected."
            "What?" Mike said in disbelief.
            "She wasn't bitten by anyone," Laura said.
            "Are you sure?" Mike asked.
            "I've seen this before," Steve said "She's got the virus."
            Everyone grew silent as Jenny tried to look up around her. Jason and Tara still had her in their arms, but Jason grew nervous and was looking for an out. "House is clear," Matt said as he stepped outside. He looked about at everyone quizzically based on the tense mood. Looking to every face and finally on the scene of Jenny told him everything he needed to know.
            "Inside," Mike said, motioning everyone to go. Tara and Jason led the way with Jenny and everyone followed next. They found a living room immediately and placed her down on a couch. "I need a shower or something," Jason said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable in his own skin after having so much close proximity with Jenny. "Me first," Laura said "I sat next to her all damn day."
            "Guys," Mike said, watching Jenny lie uncomfortably on the couch "Do not do that here." Laura and Jason began making their way for the stairs, still arguing over who would get to shower first. "Matt, can you stay here with Jenny?" he asked "Everyone else, we need to talk." Mike led Steve, Tara and Rhett into the kitchen on the other side of the house. Mike turned to face everyone and leaned on a counter while the other three stood in a semicircle around him.
            "When did she get bit?" Mike asked.
            "She wasn't," Tara said.
            "Obviously, she was. Was it in the club?"
            "I think Eric would have done something about her then," Rhett said.
            "Maybe he didn't know," Mike quickly said "Maybe she hid it."
            "She wouldn't hide it," Tara said "Not from me."
            "What about when the three of you went off alone yesterday?" Mike asked to Rhett and Tara.
            "We didn't run into anything," Rhett said.
            "Are you sure?" Mike asked, annoying Rhett.
            "Unless she picked up a dead zombies head and forced it to bite her, then yes, I'm sure we didn't run into any problems yesterday," Rhett said "You wanna check her for bites? Otherwise stop saying this is anyone's fault."
            "Then how else did she get sick?" Mike asked.
            "She's infected because she just got infected, Mike," Steve butted in "This thing spread so fast, long before the dead were rising. Bites aren't the only way this thing spreads."
            "All the dead are carriers," Tara said "We could all be infected and just not showing the symptoms."
            "That's comforting," Rhett said as he wandered away.
            "Then how come she's so sick while the rest of us are fine?" Mike asked.
            "She's not eating," Tara said "None of us are eating all that well, but she's only eating things we scavenge. She's weak and she got infected easily for it."
            "Half the group could be infected now," Mike said as he looked down and slacked his shoulders.
            "No way," Rhett said "I was with an infected guy for a long while early on, and I'm still healthy."
            "Were you in a car with him in close proximity?"
            "All day?"
            "Long enough."
            "We need to isolate her," Mike said to himself as he walked away "Clear out one of these back rooms for her to sleep in."
            "And then what?" Rhett asked "We're not equipped to deal with this. We have no medical supplies or any idea of how to fight this."
            "Keep her hydrated," Steve said "We can search this house for things like antibiotics. It won't save her, but it'll buy time."
            "Time for what?" Tara asked.
            "I dunno!" Steve said with his hands raised "Get her to Albany or Safe Haven. Maybe there's a cure, maybe there isn't. We have to do something though!"
            "Then we keep going now," Mike announced "Let's get back to the cars and keep driving. If we don't hit anymore obstacles, we'll be to the capital by dawn."
            "Matt and Rhett can't do any more driving," Tara argued "And you need to read the maps."
            "Someone else drives then."
            "Everyone's exhausted."
            "From what? Sitting on your ass all day?"
            "Mike, we've been on a frantic run through the state for the last week! We can't just keep doing this. Jenny's sick because this whole trip has taken a toll on her ability to fight off the virus. We keep this up, we'll all end up infected."
            "Albany is right there!" Mike yelled, motioning as if it were around the next corner "We get there and it's over!"
            "And what if it's dead?" Matt said as he entered the kitchen "What if we get there and it's no better than literally every place we've been to? Will we finally take a rest then or will you immediately start us on a sprint for the next "safe" location?"
            "What do you want from me?" Mike asked with raised arms "Jenny is dying! Sitting around isn't going to save her."
            "Getting her somewhere quiet and soft isn't going to stop her from dying, but it's worlds better than stuffed into a car," Steve said "Having a bed to sleep in tonight wouldn't hurt the rest of us either."
            Mike sighed and looked at everyone. "Fine," he said "But we leave at the crack of dawn and we don't stop until Albany." He marched through and headed for the front door. "Where are you going?" Tara asked as she followed. "Filling the gas tanks," Mike replied and disappeared out the front door. After Mike closed the door behind him, Tara focused her attention to the nearby couch where her friend was lying on, dying.
            "Hey," she said as she walked over and sat down in front of the couch, facing Jenny "How are you feeling now?" Jenny adjusted her head so she could talk clearly while still keeping her head down. "Better," she said "So long as I don't try to swallow...or move...or breathe."
            "You'll get through this," Tara found herself saying. She was surprised at her own feeble attempt to sound reassuring, but Jenny didn't seem to mind. "I'm going to get you water," she said. "No thanks," Jenny said "It's just going to make me sick."
            "You need something in you," Tara said as she rose "You puked everything up. You're only going to get worse if you don't eat." Either by conceding defeat in the argument, or simply being too weak to fight Tara over it, Jenny said nothing as Tara went to leave. Jenny closed her eyes and groaned softly as a new wave of pain washed over her. Tara rushed to the kitchen, not wanting to hear any of it.

July 12, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Spot-a-zombie

[Posted by Ted H]

So a store inventory is upcoming. The night before is prep for the grand event, lasting until 11pm....the inventory starts the next morning at 6am. That's 7 hours between events, not counting if the prep goes beyond 11, and not counting any driving to and from home, and also assuming I can fall right to sleep and wake up and go without fail....OR I can go to a strip club and grab a bite at Dennys before going right into the event without sleep.......I think we all know what my choice will be...

So what I'm trying to say is, next weeks update is dubious at best what with the work I'm doing this next weekend...


[Race for Safe Haven - Spot-a-zombie]

            "34," Jason said while looking out his window. "Steve?" Tara called out. "Confirmed," Steve replied. "Fuck," Tara said as he focused on looking out her own window. "Tell me again what the prize is?" Rhett asked. "Winners choice," Tara said. "35," Jason said with a chuckle. "No fucking way," Tara said. "Sorry, Tara. Confirmed," Steve said. "Fuck!" Tara said louder.
            Boredom had overtaken the group in Rhett's car. Tara and Jason had devised a little game of spotting zombies from each side of the road they were facing. The game was simple: you see it, call it and hope your score was higher than the other players score. It had started off smoothly enough, until both sides accused the other of cheating. They were on the verge of blows until Steve mediated.
            Now, every called zombie had to be confirmed by Steve because neither Tara nor Jason wanted to look away from their side to check to see if the zombie call by the other was legitimate. Scores were reset of course, to much complaining from Tara who had been winning to that point. Jason had now taken a sizable lead.
            "19!" Tara called.
            "I don't see it," Steve said "Sorry."
            "Are you fucking kidding me? It was right there!" Tara protested.
            "Should I turn around and go back for it?" Rhett asked as Jason laughed.
            "No," Tara said "Because then it'll be on Jason's side and he'll get the point."
            "Yeah, Rhett, turn around!" Jason said "Oh, and 36."
            "Fuck you!" Tara yelled "Jason's got a wide open field and I have to pick my zombies out of the woods!"
            "You wouldn't be saying that if you were winning," Jason said.
            "There! 19!" Tara called, ignoring Jason's point."
            "Confirmed," Steve said dejectedly, apparently looking forward to rejecting Tara's attempt at a point.
            "I'll come back, just you wait! See? Two more! 20 and 21!"
            "No way," Jason said.
            "Mmm," Steve mumbled as he looked to where Tara pointed "I'll give you one on that. I'm pretty sure the other was a tree."
            "Fuck you, a tree? Seriously?" Tara protested "I think you're cheating for him."
            "Don't start this again," Jason complained.
            "There is no way I should be losing all of a sudden!"
            "Calm down, Jesus," Rhett yelled.
            "37!" Jason yelled.
            "Rhett, you need to confirm for me from now on," Tara said.
            "Rhett's driving," Steve reasoned.
            "I can do both," Rhett said.
            "21," Tara yelled, Desperation setting in "I'll punch your head if you reject that."
            "Um..." Steve said as he looked "Yeah, I'll give you that."
            "Don't let her threaten you," Jason said "Call 'em as you see 'em."
            "No, it was there," Steve decided.
            "Fuck yeah," Tara said, celebrating the fact that she wasn't losing as bad as she was a few seconds ago.
            "You're getting a little intense there, Tara," Rhett said with a smile.
            "I am not losing this game," Tara said, more to pump herself up rather than talking to Rhett. "23, 24, 25!" she yelled, almost jumping out of her seat as she pounded at the window. "No way," Jason said. "Wow," Steve said "No, she's right."
            "I'm catching you, mother fucker!" Tara declared.
            "You're still a dozen behind me," Jason said, relaxing in his seat "You'll never catch up."
            "26!" Tara called before kicking Steve's seat as she yelled "And 2 two more for 28!"
            "No way," Jason said as he actually turned away from his window to look at Steve. "Damn," Steve said "That's a lot of them." Everyone looked out the side to see a numerous amount of zombie crawling and shuffling their way out of the woods and into the street after the cars. Rhett had long driven passed by that time.
            "Look at them all!" Jason exclaimed "There's gotta be a dozen more at least."
            "And they're all mine!" Tara said proudly. "No way," Jason said "You never called any of them. It's still 37-28."
            "No!" Tara yelled "I'm calling them right now then!"
            "Can't call the ones already passed," Steve said as he braced for a round of kicks to the back of his seat. "Fuck. You. Mother. Fucker," Tara shouted, kicking the seat with each pause.
            "I changed my mind," Rhett said "Can we not play this game all the way to Albany?" There was silence for a moment in the car, leading Rhett to believe that everyone actually heeded his request. He was wrong.
            The drive continued with the game unhindered. Eventually the score would change to 43-31, still in Jason's favor when Rhett noticed the station wagon up ahead had slowed down. "Put the game on pause," Rhett said as he drove up to the now stationary vehicle ahead. He pulled up alongside the car and rolled his window down as Mike did the same on his end.
            "What's wrong?" he asked.
            "Bridge up ahead is blocked," Mike said as he held up his binoculars.
            "Really?" Rhett asked as he strained his vision to see up ahead. The bridge up ahead was in view and he saw signs posted near it. He could see something in the way on the bridge, and assumed that was blocking passage."
            "We're going to fuel up then try to backtrack," Mike said as Matt got out of the station wagon. "Here?" Rhett asked as he looked back down the road they had come down. There was nothing coming, but he knew that would change sooner rather than later. "We drew a bit of a crowd back there," Rhett said as Mike exited. "Then we fuel fast and get this done sooner," Mike said "How's your gas tank?"
            Rhett checked his gauge. "Half a tank," he said "I'm good for now."
            "No reason to wait," Mike said.
            "Ugh," Rhett said as he switched off his engine and climbed out with the others. "Good to at least stretch your legs," Steve said as he reached out as far as his arms could managed and stretched. "Whatever," Rhett said as he went over and opened his trunk to retrieve a gas can. Mike was looking back while smoking a cigarette and peering with his binoculars.
            "See them coming yet?" Rhett asked as Mike shook his head. "They'll never catch us," he said as he dropped his binoculars, letting them fall harmlessly against his chest tethered to the strap around his neck. Rhett lit up his own cigarette as he pointed to the bridge. "Anything coming from that side?" he asked. Mike shook his head again. "Dead," he said "And even if there were things on there, we're too far back to notice or even reach by time we gas up. Relax."
            "Not the world's most fuel efficient vehicle, is it?" Matt asked as Mike walked by. Rhett went to fill his own gas tank while Tara walked over and grabbed the cigarette out of his mouth. "That's dangerous," she said with a smile as she put it in her mouth and walked away to the station wagon. "Is Jenny okay?" she asked as she looked inside to see the woman crumpled up in the seat. "She's sleeping," Laura said "She's been in a mood all morning."
            "Jenny?" Jason said as he looked at her through the window. She finally peeked her head through the towel and looked out. "You wanna come out for a minute?" he asked, Jenny shook her head. He ran back to Rhett's car and retrieved his bag. He came back with an aspirin and a bottle of water. He opened the other side door and climbed in next to Jenny.
            "He's so sweet sometimes," Tara said as Rhett walked over and plucked his cigarette back from her mouth. "My heart is melting," Rhett said as he looked over to Mike. "I'm full, are we ready?" he asked. Mike shrugged and motioned to Matt, still filling the station wagon. Rhett walked over to see Matt looking up while he filled.
            "What are you looking at?" he asked.
            "I'm looking for helicopters," Matt said.
            "Okay," Rhett said slowly "...Why?"
            "Not just those. Anything in the air really." The gas tank overfilled and started to spill gas along the side of the car. Matt withdrew, but kept looking up as he worked. Rhett looked at him, looked towards Mike with his binoculars, then to Jenny in the car and finally Laura nearby, munching on a bag of junk food she took from the gas station.
            "Do you guys have drugs or something in there I don't know about?" Rhett asked "Because that's just rude not to share." Matt finally looked back at Rhett and shook his head. "I'm not sure Albany is the best course of action anymore," he said. "What makes you think that?" Rhett asked. Matt looked over to Mike to make sure he wasn't looking.
            "I just think that of we're trying to get to Safe Haven, we should just go," Matt said "We should stop wasting time with the pursuit of an out we don't have."
            "What's to say Safe Haven is any different?" Rhett asked.
            "That's an uncomfortable thought," Matt said.
            "Still a possibility."
            "It just seems a place like that, hyped the way it's been, it's just too big to fail."
            "Let's go!" Mike called "I need a change of scenery. Rhett and Matt returned to their respective cars and the group was on the road again. Mike had apparently found a point a ways back to turn and get around the bridge issue. All Rhett knew was it was going to cost them time.
            "How's Jenny?" Rhett asked Jason, who was sitting contently in the back. Jason shrugged. "Okay I guess," he said "She isn't feeling well, I think it's her diet. None of us have been eating all that well." Tara huffed. "Maybe if she was willing to eat real food from abandoned houses, she'd feel better," she said. Steve and Jason laughed. "I don't get it," Rhett said "What's so funny?"
            "You missed it," Steve said.
            "Shut up," Tara said.
            "Tara conceded defeat," Jason said "No way she was going to catch up to me."
            "So?" Rhett asked.
            "I got to name my prize."
            "What did you request?"
            Steve laughed again as Tara folded her arms with an annoyed look. "She flashed us," Jason said with a sly grin.
            "Us?" Rhett asked "What us? You and Steve? What the hell? Where was I?"
            "You were with Mike or Matt," Jason said.
            "I have an adult conversation," Rhett complained "And I miss out on tits for it?"
            "Fuck you both," Tara said as she kicked Steve's seat.
            "You didn't actually have to agree to it," Rhett said.
            "I have no problem with it," Tara said "It's just that I found out afterwards that these two fuck nuggets were in cahoots."
            "Seriously?" Rhett asked "You've compromised the integrity of spot-a-zombie. The game is forever tarnished."
             "Like I said before," Steve said "Borrowed time. I gotta make the most of it."
            "Oh shut up," Tara said "You and your fat pessimism."
            "Yeah Steve," Jason "You're gonna be around forever."
            "Nah, we're all dead," Steve said "Doesn't mean we can't enjoy the trip."

July 5, 2015

Race for Safe Haven - Road Trip

[Posted by Ted H]

I have vacation time I should be using...


[Race for Safe Haven - Road Trip]

            The next morning the journey to Albany was underway. Matt drove the station wagon in front with Mike and his map in the passenger seat while Jenny and Laura sat in back. Trailing was Rhett driving his car with Steve, Tara and Jason. "How long are these back roads suppose to take us to navigate?" Rhett asked. "Well, it depends," Steve said next to him "I-90 is not an option. Most state routes are clogged. Mike assumed it'll take us about 12 hours if we never have to backtrack."
            "Figures," Rhett said "I couldn't get on to a highway to save my life before. Why is that?"
            "The same reasons why all the non-major cities are ghost towns," Steve said "If it's the end of the world and you need to get to a shelter, everyone is gonna take the easiest route there."
            "A lot of good it did them, and us now."
            "Yeah. And people started abandoning their cars once they grew tired of waiting, making it impossible for the congestion to clear up. From there chaos was easy when zombies started making their way through."
            "That's crazy," Jason said "I heard all the traffic had made it nearly impossible for the National Guard to move in and help, which is ironic."
            "What's ironic?" Tara asked.
            "Well highways and interstate roadways were designed to give people like the national guard easy ways to travel between states."
            "That, can't be accurate," Rhett said.
            "Who taught you that?" Tara asked.
            "My history teacher in 12th grade. Well, not so much as taught it as he mentioned it in a lesson."
            "And you were going to college?" Steve said.
            "You guys don't know what you're talking about," Jason said.
            "It wasn't set up just for the sake of the military!" Steve exclaimed.
            "So Rhett, you from around here?" Jason asked after some awkward silence, changing the subject.
            "Yeah. Something like that," Rhett responded.
            "Did you know Laura? She's from around here as well."
            "Uh, no. Safe to say she did not get to grace my life until recently."
            "Must suck to see your hometown like this though."
            "Yeah, well, I always wanted to take a road trip."
            "That's a positive way to look at it."
            "Where you from, Jason?"
            "Ithaca. Lived my whole life there. Even thought about applying to the college."
            "Christ, how old are you?"
            "I'm seventeen. I turn eighteen in a few months."
            "Fuck. I had you pegged for a malnourished adult. Didn't think you were still a kid."
            "Hah, yeah."
            "Jason's the little baby of the group," Tara said while mockingly going to pinch his cheek.
            "How old are you, Rhett?" Jason asked.
            "27. "
            "Wow. I had you much younger than that."
            "I'll grow a beard so I'll look older to you."
            "You're not quite grandpa status yet, old man," Tara said "Mike's middle aged. Though, we might have to consider that an old man age now. Not like many 70 year olds are able to survive nowadays."
            "That would put Rhett at middle age then, right?" Jason said "Anything over 30 is now a retirement age."
            "Hey," Steve said as he turned around and pointed at Jason. After everyone looked at him for a moment, he slowly lowered his finger. "31," he said and turned back around.
            "Wow," Tara said while laughing "Sorry, Steve."
            "You know, when I turned 30, I was all depressed about it," Steve said "My dad tried to cheer me up by saying I had another ten years before I should really get depressed. But you know what he said to me after that? He said to keep my head up, because it's not like turning 30 is the end of the world."
            "Turning 30 isn't the end of the world," Jason said "But 31 on the other hand..."

            "Are you okay, Jenny?" Laura ask while Jenny sat in the fetal position in the back with a towel draped over her head. "I'm tired, and my head hurts," Jenny said while peeking out from under her cover. "You want an aspirin?" Laura asked. "Just, quiet," Jenny said. "Leave her alone," Mike said from the front. "I'll try to avoid the potholes," Matt said, trying to sound reassuring.
            Mike checked his map and nodded at the notion that Matt didn't need to turn for quite a few miles. He relaxed in his seat and went in his pockets for his pack of cigarettes. "Essential supplies only, eh?" Matt said as Mike lit up and took a drag. "I can't find a decent cup of coffee anymore, so I refuse to kick this habit," Mike said as he cracked his window and blew out.
            "I saw you look at Rhett's cigarettes when we pulled him into that bar," Matt said "We were checking him for weapons after we cuffed him. You took a long look at those smokes he had." Mike smiled. "I'll take a man's guns, I'll handcuff him to a radiator without a second thought, but I'll never steal his cigarettes," Mike said as he happily took another drag "I came close, but I won't do it."
            "Good thing you didn't," Laura said "He might've killed you for it."
            "Alright," Mike said, turning back to regard Laura "Enough."
            "What?" Laura asked looking shocked "He's a psycho and we're abandoning him. I wish you found another car so we wouldn't need his."
            "Would you be so ready to leave Eric behind?" Mike asked.
            "Why not? He shot Rhett. He killed Sarah. You're so quick to avenge Eric, don't forget Sarah was with us, too."
            Laura folded her arms and pouted. "Would we be abandoning Eric?" she asked.
            "Yeah," Mike said without hesitation "We'd leave him at the gas station though because he doesn't have a car."
            "Why didn't we just take Rhett's car and leave him?"
            "We weren't going to do that."
            "Why not?"
            "Because he helped us, he helped you!" Mike yelled, surprised that Laura even expected such behavior "And we're not bad people."
            "Some of this group is bad," Laura said as she turned her head and watched the passing scenery.
            "I'm fine with that, as long as the bad people only shoot each other," Mike said as he turned back around and took another drag.
            "Was Sarah bad?" Matt asked while quickly looking over to Mike.
            "No," Mike said "And that's why I find myself being more and more okay with what Rhett did."
            The ride grew silent for a long while after. Mike would break the silence occasionally by dictating directions. Matt would nod, but say nothing. Laura's gaze out the window was unbroken while Jenny remained under her towel, groaning every time Matt hit a bump in the road. Mike would finish three more cigarettes before deciding to try an nap.
            "So how are they getting us to Safe Haven?" Matt asked, pulling Mike to reality before he could get sleep. "What?" Mike asked as shook his head and focused. "You never really talked about it before," Matt said "We get to Albany, but how are we getting all the way to California from there? Who there could possibly help us?"
            "Remnants of the National Guard should still be stationed at the capital," Mike said "Originally they were supposed to be at every major city, but thing just kept getting worse too fast, so they retreated. If they're still around, it would be there."
            "There was no one in Harrisburg though," Matt said.
            "I know," Mike replied "So we try Albany next."
            "And if that's not an option?"
            "Then we try Columbus. We go on a damn tour of the country until we find an outpost that's still viable. But we won't have to because Albany will not be abandoned."
            "So, we make it to Albany. Then what?"
            "Unless the plan changed, we will be flown all the way to Safe Haven by whatever transportation is available. Most likely a helicopter. Personally, I hate flying, but today I won't be picky. The choppers will run a designated path with guarded refueling points. All we'll need to do from there is kick back and enjoy the scenic route."
            "Mike," Matt said with a worried look "I haven't seen any helicopters or anything flying around. Are you sure it's not a waste of time?"
            "It's not a waste of time," Mike snapped "We haven't seen anything because we don't cross the flight path. They're there, they gotta be. Besides, what plan would you suggest? Finding the Guard is the only plan we have."
            "We could have been a third of the way to Safe Haven if we just drove to California ourselves," Matt said.
            "That's not an option."
            "Why not? I don't understand, if this place is so important to get to, then why not just go there? Why bother finding other people to escort us when they themselves can't seem to last long enough for us to reach them?"
            "Because I don't know where Safe Haven is."
            "What?" Matt said, looking to Mike for so long he almost swerved off the road. "Jesus, Matt!" Laura yelled from the back. "How do you not know where Safe Haven is?" Matt asked. "They don't tell you," Mike said "The Guard knows. All I know is where a staging area for the final push is."
            "So why don't we at least head for that staging area? Matt asked.
            "Because it's easier this way!" Mike yelled "This way fewer people die. We head for California now, I can't guarantee any of us will make it. Which path do you think is safer: crossing the country or crossing the state? This is my call, and I'm saying we head to Albany. You can thank me when we're in the air."
            Matt said nothing as he looked ahead to where he was driving. Mike glared out the front and grunted. He wanted a coffee in a bad way and the cigarettes weren't quelling that itch as much as he had hoped. "Shit," Laura said dismissively "I bet the party car is having more fun than we are."