Chapter 20 Savior
Luke was ripped to the window seal by a set of hands that locked down on his vest like a vise. He twisted and turned trying to get a shot on the ghoul that would have him for dinner. He swung his fasthawk around his head trying to catch his would be attacker. Another set of hands latched onto Luke’s arm. The attacker wasted no time. The ghoul looked to be a man in his forties with a bald head that had turned black under the Texas sun. The man had one eye that had popped out of his head somehow and dangled haphazardly around on his cheek. The man opened his mouth to go in for the bite. Luke punched the ghoul in the face popping his dangling eye. The ghoul, unfazed by the hammering blow to his face went in for another bite. Before the zombies teeth could reach Luke’s skin its head exploded in a gray and crimson mess.
Luke looked at Dom who was holding zombies out the window with his AR. Crack…. Crack… Crack.. Dom looked past the zombies trying to break through the window and saw Alexa behind the AR10 on the balcony. The protected had now become the protector. Alexa fired shot after shot dropping zombies all around the small out building. She made sure not to shoot at an angle that would risk over penetration hitting Dom or Luke inside.
Luke dropped his fasthawk and unzipped his vest. He wiggled out of the tactical vest relieving himself of his captor. The zombie stumbled backward from the shift of weight he had been pulling on. Luke picked up his fasthawk and drilled the spike deep into the zombie’s skull. Dom was doing the same with his combat knife. He stuck several zombies in the temple and some under the chin up into the brain. The crack from the 308 had stopped. All movement on the ground had stopped except for several zombies that had been disabled by the gun fire, but not killed. They flopped around and crawled toward the sound and smell of the living.
Dom keyed the mike on the handheld radio. “Good shooting baby… Good ****ing shooting”. “Are we clear to come out”? He asked. “Yep, all clear”. “By the way, don’t you ever leave me again like that”. “I thought I lost you”. “What the hell would I do in this kind of world without you”? “From now on you don’t go anywhere without me” she said. Feeling a little embarrassed because Luke could hear their conversation. Dom said “babe, it all worked out and had you not been in the house with that gun, we’d be zombie meal right now”. “I love you, we’ll be up to the big house in a minute” he said.
Dom and Luke walked toward the big house and gave the sea of carnage they had created a wide berth. From the steps of the big house to the concrete slab of the small out building there was, what looked like an oil slick, only this was a blood slick. Bodies, appendages, and blood marked the landscape between the two buildings. “Holy **** dude, there are so many of them” Luke said. “Yea I know, It’s going to be a bitch to get all of them moved and disposed of” Dom responded.
Dom radioed to Alexa to push some wooden dowels and two boxes of 45ACP through the shooting holes so that he and Luke could take care of the survivors. The two men loaded their pistol mags up and put the rest of the ammo in their pockets. They began the tedious job of making sure the dead stayed dead. They zigzagged through the dead as if they were mowing a lawn. They stabbed every head just to make sure before moving on to the next. After an hour of this the two men jumped the fence to the back yard and went inside for some much needed R&R.
Alexa met the men at the back door. Before she could react, Dom scooped her up in his arms and squeezed the breath out of her. She tried to talk but couldn’t breathe. Finally Dom’s death grip on his wife receded. “Thank you for saving our asses” Luke said to Alexa. “Yea, thank you babe” Dom echoed. “No need to thank me, either one of you would have done the same for me” she said nonchalantly. Everyone just smiled and was happy to be alive. “Let’s get us some lunch and talk about where we go from here” Dom said.
The group sat on the floor eating a mix of Ramen noodles, saltine crackers, and beef jerky. The two men filled their rifle magazines to the top with ammo. “I never want to be without ammo again” Luke said with a laugh. After a moment of silence Dom said. “Ok, obviously we have to clean up that mess out front, but we need to start thinking about sustainability”. “Even though we have all this stuff, we can’t falter on the job, we have to think about going out and scavenging more supplies” he added. Luke replied “one thing I want to do is go look for my parents and sister”. Alexa seconded his comment “I want to go look for my family also”. “Ok, so we need more scavenging, start growing our own food which will need a greenhouse during the winter months, figure out how to get fresh water from the lake to our house, clean up and sanitize our ‘mess’ out front, and go look for family members” Dom reiterated. “Did I miss anything”? He asked. Alexa and Luke shook their heads no. “Ok, I don’t see how we can make this work with just us three”. “First line of business will be the cleanup; we can’t have that disease ridden corpse pile just sitting around”. “I guess second thing will be looking for family and maybe do some scavenging on the way”. “We’ll kill two birds with one stone, and hopefully get some help to keep this place going” Dom said.
“I think we should gather up as many corpses as possible and stuff them in the car hauler”. “We can take them far away from Fortress and dump them, or hell even set them ablaze to draw anyone or anything away from Fortress” Dom suggested. “Good idea man” Luke said. “Only problem is, this will ruin our car hauler, I know I’m not eating anything that we put in it after those things have been in it” Dom said. “There is a trailer dealership on highway 28, I pass it every day on my way to work”. “We have to go that way to look for my parents anyway” Alexa said. “Great idea, we’ll just dump this one or set it on fire then stop and pick up another one”. “It’s settled then, let’s get to work” Dom said.
The two men got to work throwing corpses and appendages into the car hauler. They stacked them all the way to the roof. After forty-five minutes of back breaking labor they had the car hauler so full they had trouble closing the doors. “Well, that takes care of clean up mostly”. “Let’s fill up the trucks out of the diesel tanks and get ready to head out in the morning”. “Oh, that reminds me we still need to figure out what we are going to do about our fuel situation” Dom said. “Damn, so much stuff to do, so little time and man power to do it with” he added.
Dom, Alexa and Luke drove the trucks to the diesel by the gate. They checked their handy work at the gate and it was holding firm. They syphoned diesel from the truck’s two huge tanks filling the two F250’s up. The two men pulled the trucks up to the big house. Luke parked the Harley Davidson edition by the porch and Dom hooked his King Ranch edition up to the car hauler.
“Let’s go grab some MRE’s, case of water, and a case of ammo each to put in both trucks” Dom said. “We should throw in a few guns too, if we do find some family members the extra guns won’t hurt” Luke said. “Sounds good let’s get it done” Dom replied.
Dom’s crew sat down on the floor again enjoying a dinner of pasta sides with canned chicken mixed in. They were thankful everyone had survived the day. With all the adrenaline gone, what had happened earlier was finally sinking in. The group tried to laugh and joke to lighten the mood, but they kept coming back to the task at hand. They went over their plan one more time before retiring to bed. Since Alexa wasn’t driving she took the night watch.
Dom sat wide eyed in bed wondering what tomorrow would bring. Would they be able to find Luke’s and Alexa’s families after all this time? This made him think of his own family. Sadly Dom pushed the thoughts from his head knowing his family was too far of a trip to risk. He began to think about the issues at hand again. Could they make Fortress sustainable on their own? What kind of people would they encounter on their trek outside Fortress’s walls? Would they meet any friendlies? If so could they really trust people to bring them into Fortress? No, we are not bringing people in here again, but maybe we could set up trade agreements or security agreements, he thought.
All the thinking made Dom fall fast asleep. He dreamed of the time before that day. He dreamed of how everything used to be; how he and Alexa used to do things together. Then his dream took a dark turn. He dreamed of that day happening over and over again. His view dimmed and zoomed out as if he were looking at the earth from outer space. It was consumed in darkness except a small dim light in the northern part of Texas. He wondered if the small light was his group and if they would survive all this after all. The Earth looked like it had been torn asunder. There were fiery cracks everywhere he looked. He wondered if the Earth actually looked like this or if it were just in his dream. It seemed real, but he couldn’t tell. As he tossed and turned in his sleep he tried to explain what he was seeing in his mind. Only two words escaped his lips.