Category Archives: Horror

America The Dead: Book One; The Yellowstone Caldera problem

America The Dead: Book One

The Yellowstone Caldera Problem:

“So here is where we are. You know, as does most of the world, that we are expecting a near miss from DX2379R later on tonight.” He held their eyes.
John shrugged. “I’ve been doing a little job, must have missed that. It’s not gonna take us out is it?”
“Saw that on the news a few days back. Guess we dodged a bad one,” Sammy said.
“Right… Right,” Weston said quietly. “But that cover was nothing but bullshit.”
“It’s going to hit us?” John asked.
“Maybe… The fact is that we don’t know. One group says this, another group says that, but it doesn’t matter because it will probably kill us off anyway. Direct hit, near miss, it is going to tip over an already bad situation with the Yellowstone Caldera.” He raised his eyes, “Familiar with that?”
“Yellowstone park?” Sammy said.
John nodded in agreement.
Weston laughed. “Put simply, yes. Yellowstone has always been an anomaly to us. Back in 1930 the Army did an exploratory survey of that area. What we came up with was that there was a section of the Rocky Mountains missing. Looked at from the top of Mount Washburn it was easy for the team to see that the largest crater of an extinct volcano known to exist lay before them.”
“I guess that’s about what I thought,” Sammy agreed.
“Yeah. We all think that. Except it is not true at all because the Yellowstone caldera is not extinct, it is active: Active and about to pop…”


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“In 1930 the Army did an exploratory survey, and what they found was a section of the Rocky’s missing; the largest extinct volcano known. Except it’s untrue; Yellowstone is active and about to pop.”


“So here is where we are. You know, as does most of the world, that Yellowstone has always been an anomaly. For a time we thought it was extinct. Put simply, Yellowstone caldera is not extinct, it is active: Active and about to pop.” #Earthquake #volcano


“Are you familiar with the Yellowstone Caldera?”

“Yellowstone park?” Sammy asked.

Weston nodded. “A team of Army engineers determined that it was the crater of an extinct volcano. Except it isn’t true. Yellowstone caldera is active and about to pop.”


“So here is what we know.” He held their eyes.

“Yellowstone is about to blow… We’ve took the sensors off-line more than a week ago… The public doesn’t know.”

John shrugged. “It’s not gonna take us out is it?”

“It will end the world as we know it…”


margaret Lane

July 3, 2016

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

 



 

Earth’s Survivors Weekly Serial presentation – 7

EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet

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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

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Mexico NY: Joel and Haley

Early Evening

Joel had been able to pick up speed once they had left Mexico. The pavement was fairly even, but after the first three or four miles the traffic began to block the highway and they were down to a slow crawl. He could go no faster than ten miles per hour. There were several blind hills, and curves, and there were a lot of abandoned cars and trucks that seemed to be in the least likely places.

The four wheel drive had come in handy, as several times they had to go over the road and into a field, or someone’s yard to get around it. As evening fell they drove partway up the side of a concrete bridge escarpment and set up a camp. They were protected by the trucks, yet high enough to see in all directions.

NYS Route 104: Joel and Haley

Late Afternoon

By the time they reached the outskirts of Oswego the next day, they were ready to stop and rest. John pointed out a large shopping center on their left, and Joel pulled into the mostly empty parking lot and rolled up to the front doors of a large department store. “Thrifty Deal?” he asked John.

“Chain store,” John replied. “You can find a little of everything.”

The other two Jeeps pulled in behind them as they were getting out. Joel walked up to the front doors and tried to open them. “Locked,” he said.

“That’s okay,” Glenn smiled, reaching back into the Jeep. “I’ve got the key.” He handed the jack handle in his hand to Joel as he walked up to the glass doors.

“Well,” Joel said, “I guess here goes.” He swung the jack handle at the door and the glass shattered into millions of green-tinted crystals that skittered across the pavement.

“It’s my first real crime,” Joel said, turning around with a large grin on his face.

Just then a loud alarm began to whoop from within the store, and a split second later an even louder alarm, mounted in a steel box above the doors, began to bray into the quiet afternoon air. Joel, along with almost everyone else, had turned and began to run back towards the Jeep when it went off. The jack handle clattered to the pavement.

“Holy shit,” he sputtered.

Haley was doubled over laughing, leaning up against the Jeep for support. Joel looked at her stupidly for a few seconds and then smiled. Most of the others began to laugh as well, breaking the tension the alarm had caused.

“Y-Y-You,” she tried to say, but couldn’t stop laughing. “I thought you were going to have a heart attack, Joel,” she said, once she had gained some control. She held her stomach and began to laugh again. Joel began to laugh himself, along with everyone else.

“Well… it scared me at first,” he protested. He hadn’t been the only one, he knew. Glenn’s eyes had looked as though they were going to pop right out of his head, he recalled. He seemed to be all right now though.

Glenn walked forward and picked up the tire iron from the pavement. Standing on tip toe he pried the metal box open. He hit the large siren inside with the jack handle, until it finally screeched and then quit. The other alarm inside was still going off. He disappeared into the store, and a few seconds later that one stopped too. Glenn came back outside and peered sheepishly at the small crowd, most of whom had finally stopped laughing.

“If we’re gonna do this on a regular basis,” he said, “we better pick up some real burglar tools while we’re here.” Everyone laughed again, but the laughter died down quickly, and once it had they all crunched across the glass and into the store.

The power was off, it turned out. The alarm had been backed up by battery, and had apparently switched over automatically when the power went off. The mood changed once they had gotten into the store. Just the fact that no one did come when the alarm had  gone off would have been enough, but the empty store had also contributed its share to their somber mood. It served as a reminder that they still had met no other people at all. They had traveled over seventy miles and seen no one, and it reinforced what had happened in all their minds. No cashiers at the empty checkouts, no police cars screaming into the parking lot to see who was breaking in, there was nobody, anywhere, it seemed.

Although the power was off, the water was not, and they availed themselves of the employee showers after they had quickly moved through the store and picked out what they needed. They had gone together through the deserted aisles of the store, unwilling, or unable, to split up.

Joel, his hair still wet from the cold shower; dressed in a faded pair of jeans and a blue chambray work shirt, leaned up against the wall outside the rest room with the other men, and waited for the women to come back out. They talked quietly among themselves as they waited.

“You think Rochester will be the same as here?” Dave asked. He had seemed especially shaken by the alarm in the parking lot, and still seemed shook up over it.

Terry stood silently next to Glenn, tapping the heel of one work boot against the cinder block wall. “It does sort of seem like everyone is gone,” he said, as he stopped tapping the boot heel and straightened up.

“Could be,” Glenn said, solemnly. “It really could be, but I don’t think so. I think there are probably people right here in Oswego. They’re scared, is all. I can’t say as I blame them either, they don’t know any more about what’s going on than we do. Even if they saw us come in, I don’t think they’re about to come running up to say howdy. I wouldn’t,” he paused, before continuing. “If I saw a bunch of people come driving in, I’d probably want to stay away. No police means there is no protection, and they don’t know who we are, or even where we came from, or what we want for that matter. I think though, that there are people. Maybe it’s just going to take some time before we all get back together. I just can’t believe we’re it, I guess.”

“I have to agree with you, Glenn,” John said. “If we were to stay here a while, I would bet we would probably see someone. The curiosity would bring them out, I think.”

“I agree,” Joel said. “I was none too keen on approaching you guy’s back in Watertown either. I thought about avoiding you, as a matter of fact, just going in the other direction.”

“Glad you didn’t, Joel,” Glenn said. The other men nodded agreement as he spoke. “I can see though where a body wouldn’t want to. Especially since there was more than a few of us carrying guns, or rifles, at that point. I am glad you did though. I sure as hell wouldn’t have wanted to end up with that Brad Saser trying to take charge. He was already pushing it pretty hard. Probably would have shot him myself if he had tried, who in hell knows what a guy like him would do.”

“You don’t think they’ll follow us do you?” Terry asked.

“No telling,” Glenn said, “but I wouldn’t doubt it. Guy’s like him are all over though, and I suppose we’ll run into a few just like him eventually. Not much we can do except to be careful, I guess.”

“Think we’ll make Rochester tomorrow?” Dave, asked, as Gina and Jan came walking out of the rest room.

“It’s not far, only about another sixty, maybe seventy miles,” John answered, “but I doubt it. We will probably get there tomorrow or the next day sometime, depending on the stalled traffic of course.” He seemed to consider for a second. “Maybe longer. The stalled traffic is even heavier and it might be ten times worse than this once we get closer. I mean they may have also taken to the secondary roads, so there may not be any real way to get there in one straight shot anymore.”

“That’s about what I figure,” Glenn chipped in, “at least a few days.”

Haley and Lilly opened the door and walked out, and the small group prepared to make a meal and settle down for the night.

Everyone, at Glenn’s suggestion, had changed into sneakers or boots in case they ended up walking. They had taken the time to pick up extra clothes, as well as some more canned goods to replace what they had eaten, and Joel had found some Quick Cold in one of the side aisles.

Quick Cold had only become popular in the last couple of years as a retail item. Before that it had only been used by the medical profession, to transport anything that needed to stay cold, or frozen. Organs for transplant, fresh blood, and countless other things. The plastic bags contained a small stick shaped tube. Joel had filled three large coolers with soda and beer, and tossed in several of the bags after snapping the small cylinder within, to activate the chemical the bags contained. They had instantly frosted up and began to cool the warm cans. A few minutes later they rolled the trucks inside the store and built a fire for the night. Joel took the first shift of guard duty with Scott. Just inside the main entrance.

Oswego NY: Joel and Haley

Late Morning

They spent the morning scouring the store for useful items. After they had loaded the Jeeps, they had left the abandoned shopping center and began to work their way through the seemingly empty city, when they reached the first bridge they were forced to stop.

The bridge was still standing, that was not the problem. The problem was that it was packed bumper to bumper with wrecked and burned out cars and trucks. A large city bus also sat within the wreckage. Dave and Joel scrambled over the cars to see what had caused the huge accident.

At first it seemed that the wreckage went on forever. But as they neared the second bridge the problem became apparent.

The bridge, or more properly put, the twisted steel girders and huge chunks of concrete that had been the bridge, lay at the bottom of a deep gorge, partially submerged in the water. Reluctantly they scrambled back over the cars to tell the others that were waiting.

“Think we could move them?” John asked, as Joel and Dave returned. “I saw a wrecker back up the highway a bit; we could go back and get it.”

“Wouldn’t do any good,” Joel said his voice somber. “The second bridge is nearly gone. Even if it weren’t, I don’t see this one standing much longer either. We took a look at the underside from the other bridge, and a couple of the pilings are cracked pretty badly. I wouldn’t trust it. There is another bridge though, looks like only a couple of blocks over. It’s still up, but I can’t tell from here whether it has traffic on it, the sides are enclosed.”

“Which way, Joel?” Glenn asked.

“Looked like down a little way,” Joel said, pointing back the way they had come. “Take the next right, and it should be only a couple of blocks away.”

“Well,” Haley said, trying to sound positive, “let’s go find out.”

They piled back into the Jeeps, and after some careful maneuvering, managed to turn them around and head back the way they had come. Joel made the next right and started down the street, while Glenn and John, as well as Haley, watched for a bridge on the side Streets that bisected the one they were on. Joel had just slowed to cross a set of rail road tracks, when Haley suddenly yelled out.

“There!” she shouted, pointing down the tracks.

Joel looked in the direction she had pointed, which happened to be down the tracks.

“Shit, that figures,” he said, “a rail road trestle.”

The trestle was a newer one, and the sides were enclosed steel with concrete reinforcements. Probably why I didn’t realize it was a train trestle, he thought, and then said aloud. “Well that blows that, but there ought to be other bridges. This can’t be the only one.”

“Actually,” Glenn said, from behind him, “it ain’t necessarily bad news.”

“What do you mean?” Joel said, staring back down the tracks at the bridge.

“Well, just what I said. It’s still a bridge ain’t it? It’s not a rickety old wooden one either, solid steel and concrete, it’ll hold us, and it does cross the river right?”

Joel looked at the bridge doubtfully. “I suppose so, but… You think we could fit across it?”

“I’ve seen cars and trucks both on trains,” Haley exclaimed, “they would have to fit, or else how could they carry them on the trains without smashing the hell out of them?”

“Good point,” Glenn said, “how about you park this buggy, Joel, and we go take a look at the bridge.”

The other two Jeeps parked, and all of them walked off down the tracks to look the bridge over.

The wooden ties, and the tracks that lay upon them, were well supported. Heavy steel girders ran the length of the bridge, and were supported by massive concrete pilings sunk into the river bed far below. Joel peered down through the ties at the concrete. It was cracked in a few places, but all the pilings seemed still to be firmly anchored in the river bed. “Do you really think it would hold us?” he asked.

“If it will hold a train, Joel, it will hold us,” Glenn replied.

“I mean the cracks, wise ass,” Joel said. “The pilings are cracked. They seem to still be solid, but… I don’t know,” he finished lamely.

“Tell you what. You drive one, and John and I will drive the other two. Everybody else can walk across. I’ll go first even. If it looks the least bit shaky we call it off, and search for something else, okay?” Glenn argued.

Joel thought for a moment before he replied. It might be a good idea after all. Where else were they likely to find a bridge that wasn’t blocked off with traffic? The bridge did seem solid, and it couldn’t hurt to try he supposed.

“Okay, but I’ll start out. You watch, and you damn well better let me know real quick if she starts to go. I’ll be pretty pissed if you dump me and my new truck in the river,” Joel finished, smiling widely.

“Wouldn’t think of it,” Glenn said, solemnly.

“See you on the other side,” Haley said, and before Joel could reply she quickly kissed him. “For luck,” she said, a bit breathless. She turned and along with the others started walking across the bridge.

Joel watched her go. The kiss had taken him by surprise.

“Ah, Joel,” Glenn said grinning, “better close your mouth before the bugs start flying in.” Joel closed his mouth with a snap, and looking a bit embarrassed, walked off towards the Jeep.

John threw Glenn a wink, and they both walked out onto the bridge to wait. Joel started the Jeep, backed around, and drove slowly over the ties towards the bridge, straddling the rails as he went, and he was still thinking of the kiss as he edged slowly out onto the bridge. He looked across and saw Haley waving from the other side. He waved back and then brought his attention back to the truck.

“How’s she look, Glenn,” he asked out the open window, as he inched cautiously out onto the trestle.

“You might scratch the paint a little, but the deck didn’t budge a bit when you eased on to her,” Glenn replied. “I don’t think they brought too many auto-carriers across this deck though, more like freight cars. You only got a couple of inches on either side.”

“Well here goes nothing,” he muttered under his breath as he moved further out onto the bridge. “Still okay?” he asked.

“Good as gold,” Glenn replied. Joel was not entirely blocking the bridge, and Glenn and John squeezed by on one side of the truck. “We’ll be behind you,” Glenn said, as he paused at Joel’s window. “I’ll wait until you’re off, and John will wait until I’m off.” Glenn looked at both men as they nodded their heads.

“Let’s do it,” Joel said.

He eased off the gas and let the Jeep idle its way across the bridge. When he reached the other side he angled off the tracks, parked, and walked back to the bridge. He stood quietly beside Haley and watched until the other two Jeeps were across. As he stood next to her, he noticed how much more aware of her he was. Funny what a little kiss can do, he thought. In fact, he noticed, she seemed to be a little flushed, and with that thought, Joel began to wonder just exactly what the kiss had meant.

Oswego NY: Joel and Haley

Early Afternoon

Once they were back on the main road again, it was late afternoon, and by the time they finally reached the other side of Oswego, they had all agreed to stop for the day.

As they entered the small town of Martville, and pulled into a large field, Joel found himself wondering more and more what the kiss had meant.

They made a half-way decent meal out of the canned goods they carried with them, and once they tired of rehashing the day’s events, one by one they went off to find a place to sleep. They had sleeping bags, and rather than set up the tents they had also brought with them, they all agreed they would rather use the bags.

Joel watched as Terry walked off in one direction with Gina. Obviously something had sparked with those two, he thought. He sat talking quietly with Glenn and John, as well as Haley. When he finally said his goodnights, a few hours later, Haley got up, and saying goodnight, walked away by herself.

While Joel waited for sleep to come, he found that instead of thinking of all the bad things that had happened, he was thinking of Haley, and all the good things that could happen.

Route 104: Joel and Haley

Early Morning

The next morning they were on the road early. The going was still slow, but by noon they were on the outskirts of Alton, a small town about forty miles from Rochester. They were only thirty or so miles from Webster where they would turn off 104, and take route 250 into the small village of Fairport.

A run-down general store, with two old gas pumps sitting on a chipped concrete island, was all that marked the small town. The low speeds and constant use of the four wheel drive, had taken a toll on the fuel tanks of all three vehicles, so when Joel had spotted the small store as they passed a sign for the township limits; they had pulled off into the dirt parking area. The other two Jeeps followed him in and lined up by the pumps.

When Haley and Terry, along with Gina, had first picked up the jeeps, they had filled the tanks by siphoning gas from the dealership’s underground tanks. It had been a fairly easy process as Terry had worked at a gas station before, and had been responsible for, among other things, checking the levels of the tanks and comparing them on a daily basis to the numbers on the pumps to make sure they matched up. He had known where to look for them. The tanks were fairly simple to access. A long piece of hose slipped down into the tank had been adequate to siphon the gas into cans and then fill the Jeeps.

Terry had found a hand operated pump, mainly used to pump kerosene from cans into small heaters, at the department store back in Oswego, and, along with Dave, had adapted the crank operated pump to use it to pump gasoline. The adaptation had been simple. A long section of heavy hose had been slipped over the pumps short tube, and held in place with a small hose clamp.

One by one the Jeeps were pulled over next to the underground tanks, and quickly filled. Haley had been impressed with the idea. It was a lot better than the mouthfuls of gas they had swallowed filling the Jeeps back in Watertown.

After the Jeeps were gassed up they decided to take a short break and eat lunch. They were all getting sick of the canned meat, so they foraged through the small general store to see what was available. Once each had found what they wanted, they had carried it out onto the wide front deck to eat.

Joel sipped at a cold beer while he sat in an old wooden chair eating a large bag of chips. Glenn and John were talking quietly beside him.

“Where do you think the best place to go is?” Glenn asked of John. They had been discussing several places where people may have gathered. They were all hoping to find other people once they arrived in Rochester, but until now they had not discussed where to go once they arrived.

John answered. “Well, the compass is open. I think it would be a good idea to stay away from the North side though. The whole area has been run down for years, and I’m not so sure we’d want to meet anyone who was still alive in there.”

“That bad, huh?” Joel asked.

“Actually, more than that bad,” he replied. “When I was still living there, and still on the City Council, I remember we had constant problems there. The city was always being accused of not caring much about the north side, and to be honest it was based in fact to a certain extent. The city and the council, me included I hate to admit, did let it run down pretty much. Trouble was, when we tried to retake the neighborhoods we couldn’t.”

“Why?” Glenn asked. “Didn’t you have support from the neighborhoods?”

“Not really,” John said. “Don’t get me wrong. There were still a lot of good people trying to live there, but by the time the city stepped in, drugs had pretty much taken over. It got so the police couldn’t even go in there after dark. The drug dealers knew it and used it to their advantage. After a while… well, the good people who had tried to change things just left. The last time I was there, on Clifford Avenue, it was pretty bad. We, myself, and two other board members, decided to take a tour through some neighborhoods ourselves, to see just how bad it had gotten. We had to have a police escort, and even then we ended up seeing only a small part. Most of the neighborhoods were full of drug houses, prostitution, burned out buildings. I’ll tell you, truthfully, it scared me. That was one of the reasons I didn’t run again and ended up moving to Watertown.”

“A lot of parts of Watertown were like that too,” Joel said. “I got to the point where I really had begun to hate the place.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” John said. “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not glad that this happened, but… who knows how much worse things would have gotten? At least now there’s a chance to start over again, maybe.”

“You know what really got to me?” Glenn asked. Both men looked at him waiting for him to speak.

“You know where Mobile Alabama is?” they both nodded. “Well, I was down there a few years back to see a buddy of mine I was in the Navy with. We were always telling each other we were going to get together and finally we did. So we were driving down Airport Boulevard, kind’a the main street so to speak, and I was, you know, sort of looking around out the window. Sightseeing, I guess you could say. Anyway, I see this young girl standing in the middle of the island that splits the lanes holding a sign. I figured it was one of those ‘Will work for food’ signs, but as we got closer I saw it wasn’t. I could also see she was pregnant, couldn’t have been more than sixteen or so. I asked my friend to slow down so I could read the sign. I couldn’t believe it.”

“Well, what did it say?” John asked.

“Well, it was misspelled, you know, but it said, ‘I’m pregnant and abandoned, please help me.’ I couldn’t believe it, so I asked my buddy to turn around and go back, but by the time he did she was gone. I couldn’t believe that things had come to that.”

“That’s bad all right,” Joel said. “I’ve seen the other signs, the food signs, but I’ve never seen one like that.”

“I haven’t either,” John said, “but I can’t say it surprises me a lot.”

“Well,” Glenn continued, “that wasn’t the end of it, two days later I picked up the paper and there was an article about her in it. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had seen her. The police had picked her up earlier, and told her not to stand there with that sign. That was in the morning, and it was afternoon when I went by, so she must have come back. Quite a few people had seen her back there in the afternoon, according to the paper. Well, the thing is that somebody did stop and pick her up, but not to help her. They found her body in the bay the next morning. If they hadn’t picked her up the day before, they probably wouldn’t have known who she was, but they did, I guess. The story said they had fingerprinted her, and taken pictures too. I guess they arrested her, ain’t that a slap in the face? Anyhow, that’s how they identified the body… I’ve always wondered about it. Who would just abandon her in the first place? I mean, being pregnant and homeless? I’ve always felt that I should have convinced my buddy to stop right there. Fuck the traffic, just stop and pick her up…”

“…So, I’ve gotten pretty sick of the world myself. It never seemed to stop, and it seemed that people kept coming up with more ways to be cruel. To tell the truth, I’m glad it’s mostly gone, I hated it that much.”

When Glenn finished they were all silent for a few minutes.

Joel thought about the food signs. How many times had he seen them? Countless, he guessed, but he had never stopped. He had been, well, sort of afraid to.

“I think we all made our share of mistakes,” Joel said. “I know I did. I wish I hadn’t, but I did. I guess maybe things are better, in a way,” Joel finished his beer, got up, and retrieved three cold ones from the cooler in the Jeep. He handed one to each of the men before he sat back down in the chair.

“So,” John said, easing back into the conversation of where to go once they arrived in Rochester. “North side is out I think, there’s no way I’d want to go back in there, especially now. East side is mostly old mansions; East Avenue, Park Avenue. West is made up of mostly poor neighborhoods and shopping centers, and farther out small business. South side is a mix, some places are as bad as the North side, and others are as nice as the east side. Farther out though, it’s all malls and big discount stores. I’d say downtown would be a good place to start looking.”

“Why?” Glenn asked.

“Just a hunch, I guess,” he replied. “But where did you go after it happened?”

“I see your point,” Glenn said. Downtown, Glenn thought, was the first place he had thought of going. It made sense to him that it should be the first place to at least check.

“We’ll have to walk, at least I’m pretty sure we will,” John said.

“I believe you,” Joel agreed. “A city that size has a lot of traffic I suppose.”

“Unbelievable,” John said. “An awful lot of it ends up on the Can-of-Worms, but its heavy downtown too. There are still a lot of small companies down there, so I’m fairly certain we’ll have to walk down. We should be able to get within a block or two of the War Memorial though, and that’s dead downtown. City Hall is across from that, and if there are people, that’s where they should be. Of course the only real way to find out is to get there and see.”

The small caravan pulled back out onto the highway and continued on a few minutes later. Long before they reached Webster the stalled traffic began to back up, and they lost a great deal of time winding their way through it, or where that was not possible, pulling into the center traffic divider to get around it.

Even the center divider, a narrow, sloped grassy area double the width of the two lane highway, began to fill up with stalled vehicles, and several times they were forced to get around some other way. Fortunately the areas along the highway were crowded with small restaurants, shopping malls, and gas stations; the closer they got to Rochester. And they all had feeder roads. Roads that were mostly empty now.

The parking lots were fairly empty, and they managed to get around the stalled traffic that way.

When they reached Webster it was nearly 6:00 PM, and a light rain had begun to fall. The exit and entrance ramps were packed solid with cars, and impassable: As a consequence they were forced to drive the Jeeps down the side of the steep escarpment to the road below. Some cars appeared to have either been trying to enter or exit using the wrong ramps, and the results had been catastrophic.

Most of the cars were crushed and blackened shells. A large gasoline tanker sat amid the wreckage. The tanker had apparently tried to exit the entrance ramp and had crashed and burned.

It looked as though gas, from the ruptured tanker, had spread the flames under the entire bridge, and everything had caught. Joel supposed that several of the cars gas tanks had probably exploded too, helping to fuel the inferno.

Once they had negotiated the steep and muddy embankment and driven out of Webster the stalled traffic eased up.

“Most likely everyone stuck to the main routes,” John said. “I’d hate to see what the Thruway looks like though, it’s probably packed tighter than a drum.” The others nodded agreement.

Even though the stalled traffic had lessened, they were still forced to detour off the road several times to avoid accidents or vehicles that seemed to have been abandoned in the middle of the road. It was well after 8:00 PM when they reached the four corners in the small village of Fairport, and the sky was beginning to darken. The rain was coming down harder.

Joel angled the Jeep into a deserted gas station and they all ran toward the door which had been left propped open, thankful they were out of the rain.

They were no sooner inside, when the rain began to pelt the tarmac outside in great sheets. The sky darkened rapidly, and a stiff wind kicked up, blowing the trash that littered the streets through the air.

Joel was staring out the wide glass window when suddenly the street lights began to glow. Within a few minutes they were all glowing brightly, illuminating the wind driven sheets of rain. Haley walked over and flicked on a switch next to the door, and bright fluorescent lights buzzed to life overhead. She clicked on several of the other switches next to the first one, and the outside sign, along with the pump islands lit up.

“Looks like you were right, Glenn,” Joel said. Glenn, grinning, blew lightly on his finger tips and rubbed them on his shirt. “Elementary, my dear Watson,” he said, still grinning.

He was still grinning a few seconds later, when Lilly began to point out the window and screamed excitedly.

“Look!” she exclaimed, “a truck, people!”

Everyone quickly crowded toward the windows to look out.

An older Chevy sat at the curb idling, its wipers throwing great sheets of water from the windshield. The darkened side windows gleamed, reflecting back the bright glare of the station lights. Lilly, and several of the others were waving through the glass in an attempt to get the drivers’ attention.

“Looks like a Suburban… Where did it come from?” Joel asked, puzzled.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I turned around and there it was. Aren’t they going to come in?”

“Maybe they’re afraid,” Haley said, shrugging her shoulders. “They must see us.”

Everyone stood silently for a few seconds staring out at the Suburban. It still sat at the curb, and it appeared to Haley that the person or people inside it were not going to come in. Just as she had the thought though, the car reversed, and began to slowly back up towards the entrance to the station.

When it reached the station entrance, it pulled slowly onto the edge of the pavement and stopped.

“What are they doing,” Terry asked, sounding slightly afraid.

Everyone else turned towards Joel expecting that he might be able to answer the question.

“I don’t know,” Joel said. “Could be they’re afraid, like Haley said.”

“Might be better to flick off the inside lights,” Glenn said, in a low tone of voice. “It doesn’t look as though they intend to say hello.” He peered out at the truck.

Haley reached over and flicked off the inside lights.

Almost immediately the Suburban’s headlights came on and it pulled ahead slightly, angling the beams into the station interior. The lights flicked up to high beams, flooding the interior in harsh bright light. Almost as soon as the lights had flicked up, the two front doors opened and two shadowed figures stepped out into the rain. The headlights were blinding.

“Listen, man,” One of the figures shouted in a deep voice. “You ain’t welcome here. You come into the city and you will get fucked up.” Silence held, rain drummed against the steel roof. The figures got back into the car. The headlights winked out.

Tiny spots floated in front of Joel’s eyes and he quickly blinked them away. The truck was backing slowly into the road, away from the station.

“What in hell are they doing?” Dave asked, looking at Glenn. “What the hell was that all about?” he asked again.

Glenn shrugged. “I guess we’ve been warned… I didn’t much like it, I can tell you.”

“I didn’t much like that either,” Joel said as he looked over at Dave. Glenn stood beside him, his eyes locked on the car.

Once the Suburban reached the roadway it pulled slowly up to the stop sign at Route 250 and once again sat idling, its lights still off. Joel tried squinting his eyes tighter, to see into the darkened side windows, but they were pitch black, like a limousine, he thought.

“What should we do,” Gina asked? Joel looked at her, and it was obvious she was frightened. In fact, he noticed, everyone, himself included, seemed frightened. Terry was the only one who had brought a rifle into the station with him and Joel noticed it.

“Terry, give me that,” he said motioning at the rifle.

“Be careful, Joel,” Glenn said, “No telling what they’re up to. I don’t know if it’s wise to go out there.”

“Don’t!” Haley said, turning to face Joel. She seemed on the verge of panic.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “I only want to show them we’re armed… maybe they’ll take off. Think they’re armed, Glenn?” Joel asked.

“I don’t know, but who knows how friggin’ long they were sitting out there watching us, if they’d wanted to shoot us they could have easily. The lights in here probably lit us up like a damn Christmas tree,” Glenn stated. “I ain’t so sure you should be going alone if you’re going out there though. I’m going too.” Terry and Dave followed them out the door.

The four men advanced slowly toward the car in the pouring rain. The Suburban stayed put, its engine softly idling, and curls of white exhaust floating up through the sheets of rain. They stopped about ten feet from the still idling car, and Joel stepped to the front of the small group with the rifle clutched in both hands. He didn’t want to seem too threatening, but he wanted them to see the rifle.

“Hey, you in the car!” He shouted above the deafening roar of the rain. The taillights flashed briefly as if in answer, and a cold chill crept up Joel’s spine. He shuddered involuntarily. “What the hell is with these guys,” he muttered, to no one in particular.

“They are some kind of assholes all right,” Glenn whispered. Joel looked over and saw that they were all shaken. He tried again.

“Hey, what’s the problem?”

He had meant for the question to come out strong and loud, but it had not. Instead, the words had seemed to choke up inside him, and had sounded strangled when they had come out. The eerie feeling had gotten stronger, and Joel noticed that he felt an almost panicky urge to run back towards the station.

He looked at the others, and noticed they seemed to be panicked as well. What the hell, he wondered, as he fought to control the panic. He found himself suddenly raising the rifle and aiming at the car.

“Don’t shoot the bastard,” Glenn whispered.

“Don’t intend to. I just… I…”

Just after he began to lower the rifle, the Suburban’s headlights suddenly flicked on, and the rear tires spun on the slick pavement, smoking and screaming as they clawed for purchase. The engine whined higher in pitch and the big Suburban seemed to jump out into the intersection. Joel watched as it skewed around sideways on the wet asphalt and roared off towards Webster. A passenger leaned out the window and aimed a rifle at them.

The rifle in Joel’s hands bucked and the rear window of the Suburban burst inward in a spray of glittering black diamonds as it sped away. The shooter ducked back inside. Shapes moved and shifted in the back of the Suburban, maybe as many as half a dozen, Joel thought, maybe even more. No way to know, he decided. The pitch of the motor rose higher, and a few seconds later the taillights slipped out of sight.

“Christ.” Joel said, as his dry mouth tried to work.

“I counted at least eight with the driver and passenger,” Glenn confirmed.

Joel could still hear the Suburban accelerating in the distance over the sound of the rain as it sped away, and feel the heavy pounding blat of its engine in the pavement under his feet. The four men turned away and walked slowly back towards the station in silence.

Joel stopped at one of the Jeeps before they entered, and waited for the other three to catch up.

“Listen,” he said in a low tone, almost a whisper. “I don’t think it’s wise to scare the shit out of the others. Maybe we should tell them the back was empty. Agreed?”

Terry was still swallowing convulsively, but nodded his head up and down like a puppet. Glenn and Dave both mumbled agreement.

“Terry,” Joel hissed, “snap out of it. It won’t do any good if we walk in there with you looking like that.” Terry nodded and tried to calm down. “Maybe you can get Terry aside and talk to him, Dave.”

Just as Joel had finished speaking, the door to the station swung open, and the people inside poured out into the rain. Haley, looking badly shaken, walked towards them with her hands folded across her chest.

“They all had guns… The ones in the back, Joel,” she said. “I looked, we all looked, Joel…. When you shot out the back window.”

Her voice had risen as she spoke, and at the end she was nearly screaming. Joel pulled her to him and held her in the rain. To hell with it, he thought, keeping secrets was never one of my strong suits anyway. It’s probably better this way.

“Joel,” Glenn said. “I think it might be best if we stay here for tonight, instead of going into the city. I also think we ought to pull the Jeeps inside the service bays for the night… keep an eye on them. Probably ought to keep the rifles with us from now on too.”

“I guess you’re right, Glenn. Haley, why don’t you and the others go back inside and get the doors up. We’ll pull the Jeeps in… Okay?” She hugged him fiercely before she let go and ran back into the station. The three of them quickly drove the Jeeps into the service bays, and then locked the wide doors behind them. They locked the front door to the station as well, and they all walked back into the rear section of the garage bays by a small parts room.

Joel propped open the door to the parts room, and turned a small light on inside. The bulb was dim, but flooded weak yellow light out into the garage area, it was enough, he felt, if the Suburban came back he didn’t want them to be perfectly silhouetted inside the station by the florescent overheads in the garage bay.

Haley and Connie began to fix some cold sandwiches, while the others unloaded the sleeping bags and ice chests from the Jeeps.

Joel was into his second beer and his heart was just beginning to resume a somewhat normal beat. Terry walked back from the front of the garage where he had been staring out into the rain. They all half expected the Suburban to come roaring back at any second. The rifles were out of the Jeeps now. Close at hand, just in case. Haley and Connie brought a large stack of sandwiches over, and both grabbed a cold drink, sitting down as Glenn began to speak.

“This changes everything,” he said to no one in particular. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to just ignore it either.”

Joel took a deep gulp of the beer before he spoke. “I guess you’re right, Glenn and, it was stupid to think we should keep it to ourselves. I shouldn’t have suggested it.” He looked around at the small group of frightened people and his eyes locked on Haley’s as he continued to speak. “I thought it would shake everyone up for no reason,” he said. The argument seemed empty and somewhat foolish even to him. “Glenn’s right though. We started to discuss it back in Watertown, and didn’t. Maybe we should have…I don’t know.”

His eyes were sad, Haley noticed, and he shrugged his shoulders helplessly when he finished. Silence hung thick in the air for a few minutes until Glenn reluctantly began to speak again.

“I don’t pretend to have an answer for one,” he said quietly, as he looked around from one to the other. “I guess we can only go with what we know for now. What I mean is what we know from our own personal experience back in Watertown,” he waited but no one spoke.

Glenn continued. “I said before that I spent the night at the gravel pit, and I did, but I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t. I was too keyed up. Hell, we all were. Whatever this is it looks a lot worse now than it did then. This little trip has proven that it was not a localized thing. Probably Rochester is gone,” he shrugged. “No way to know, but is it worth an armed fight to find out? That sounds nuts, right?”

“No… Sounds sane,” Joel said. “We knew this, I think. I think we knew this. Maybe not that it would go this bad this fast, but I think we suspected… Suspected is a good word.”

“Possibly,” Glenn replied. He shook his head. “No, most likely. Most likely subconsciously we knew and didn’t want to face it. I guess the pretending is over now though… Maybe that’s for the best before one of us gets killed taking too much for granted.”

Joel nodded. “I… No, Glenn, I don’t think you’re nuts, if you are then we all are. I think the world ended. I mean the sensible part we all understood. I don’t know what in hell this part is… I mean there has got to be some way to explain or at least understand this.”

“You just did,” Haley said quietly from beside him.

“She’s right, Joel,” Glenn said, “You did. I don’t think this is a rational or predictable world anymore. If it isn’t, then all that’s left, Is simply survival or,” he motioned toward the outside, “Death… Let those people tell you how to live… Or Worse. There is no in between anymore, no walking the fence, the gloves are off, just one or the other.”

“So what’s next?” Gina asked, expectantly.

“If I knew that,” Glenn answered. “I guess I would be God. I’m not, so I don’t know…”

“…Just to make my position clear though, I don’t intend to start waxing religious, but you can bet that I might just start praying. It used to seem superstitious to me. Not anymore. Now it seems important.”

Silence hung in the air for a few moments, and Connie spoke up. “But what should we do? Should we go back, or go into Rochester, or should we maybe go somewhere else?”

“I think that question needs to be answered by all of us individually,” Glenn replied calmly. “It’s not a question one person can answer, and we’ve pretty much stuck together so far, I can’t see splitting up if there’s a disagreement. I think we all need to decide together.”

“I don’t see any reason to go back to Watertown,” Lilly said

“I agree,” Dave joined in.

“There’s nothing there for us,” Amber said.

One by one they all voiced their opinions, until only John, Haley, Joel and Glenn were left.

“I don’t see the sense in it,” Joel said quietly. The remaining three nodded their heads in agreement.

“So… do we go into Rochester, or somewhere else?” Glenn asked softly as he looked around the cramped garage.

“I for one would hate to think we came all this way for nothing,” John said. “I vote we go. If it’s bad,” he shrugged his shoulders, “we get the hell out and go somewhere else.”

Glenn looked back at the small group. “Well?”

Silently, they all nodded their heads in agreement.

“That’s that then,” Glenn said. “We’ll go in the mornin’,” he paused. “Tonight though, I think we need to keep watch. I’m going to take the first watch, who’s next?”

“Me,” Scott said.

“I’ll relieve you,” Dave said, “just get me up when you get tired.”

“That should see us through the night,” Glenn said. “…I think it’s best if we all sleep in here tonight, and on this side, behind the trucks. It might be a bit crowded, but I don’t want to take any chances.” Glenn finished, picked up his rifle, and headed towards the glass enclosed front of the gas station, and the small group began to break apart. Haley spoke up, after most of the others had drifted away.

“Joel?”

“Ssh,” he said, as he put a finger over her lips, “no need.” He led her away and they pushed two sleeping bags together in front of one of the Jeeps.

“Joel?” she said, “I just need to be held.”

“I know,” he said quietly. “I need to hold you.” He took her into his arms and held her as he tried to push the thoughts that wanted to crowd his mind away. Haley slipped off to sleep quickly, but sleep eluded Joel. He lay quietly thinking, still holding her, until he drifted off to sleep himself much later.


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Earth’s Survivors Weekly Serial presentation – 5

EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet

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LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2016 Wendell Sweet and his assignee Andrea Scroggs. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.

………………………………

THREE

Joel and Haley

The Tug Hill Plateau

Early Morning

The camp was a makeshift place off an old logging trail. It was dry under the pines where they had set up camp, but the logging road had flooded over, the water had receded, and now the road was a quagmire of mud steaming in the early morning sun.

They had encountered no major obstacles on the way in. Joel knew the way. The road was cracked in a few places, flooded in a few others, but only a few inches of water. The major stuff had held off until they had arrived and settled in.

The last few days had bought rain, snow, and what felt like earthquakes or explosions far away. Heavy vibrations they could feel through the pine needle covered ground. No one was sure what they really were, but they were all worried about it.

They had made up their minds late last night, when the rains had stopped to get out of the woods, but the two new trucks they had driven in would not start. Joel’s old truck turned over and started fine. They had spent most of the sunrise checking over the two trucks, but they found nothing wrong with them. The batteries were up, the starters turned over, but they would not fire. There was no spark at the plug. Scott and Glenn who were both mechanics were puzzled over what could be causing it.

“If we go, most of you will get stuck in the back of my truck… No other way for it,” Joel said.

They had spent a great deal of the last few days wondering what was going on in the world. Twice, slow moving cargo planes had overflown them. They had seen no markings on the wings, but they had both been painted the olive drab of army equipment. The battery powered radio they had listened to had stopped working. Their wristwatches, cell phones, the two trucks, all dead. The had wondered about a Nuclear blast, maybe that was what had happened to the electronics.

Scott nodded. “Maybe that is the deal though. Your truck is old, no electronic brain… Maybe we could find another like it… Or two.”

“If it was a nuke, would it knock out electronics like that? And wouldn’t we all be sick right now?” Amber asked.

“Not necessarily… If it was it wasn’t close, so it would just depend on which way the wind was blowing,” Haley said. “Electronics? I have heard that, but I don’t know. Makes me wish I paid attention to all of that apocalypse stuff on the internet.”

“A dirty bomb… I think that’s what they called it, but it could have been that meteor… I think I read once that a near miss could be as bad as a direct hit. Mess things up the same as a nuclear bomb.” Glenn shrugged.

“But they said that would miss us completely,” Ed threw in.

Dave nodded, “Maybe it didn’t. Wouldn’t be the first time they said something that turned out to be bullshit.”

“What? You don’t trust your own government,” Amber asked in mock surprise.

“Yeah… Well, either way we’re back to sticking it out here or going back to Watertown to see what’s going on… Or somewhere else for that matter,” Joel threw out after a few moments of silence.

“I say we go back… Maybe the guard is there, or has been there.,” Amber said.

“Can’t hide out up here forever,” Ed agreed.

“We’ll run out of food… At the least we have to stock back up,” Scott added.

Glenn nodded. “With more too… We don’t know how long this is going to be.”

“Or if it still is,” Haley added.

“There is that too,” Glenn agreed.

“At the least then we should go back and stock up. I mean if no one is there, we can stock up, come back here if it’s bad and decide what to do… Get on with the old life if there is someone there,” Terry said.

“Who wants the front seat… Two,” Joel asked.

“Probably the girls,” Dave said.

“Why is that,” Haley asked.

“What?” Dave asked.

“Why the girls,” She shook her head before he answered. “Well, I’m not a girl. I’m a woman. It was a rough road to become a woman, and I don’t want to be called a girl.”

“Hey… Peace. I didn’t mean anything by it,” Dave said.

The silence held for a few minutes.

“Well, let’s get this place picked up… I guess store everything in the other two trucks… Maybe we’ll come back for them,” Joel said.

“Maybe not,” Glenn added. “So bring what you want to keep, only make it a small amount.”

Joel nodded.

A half hour later Joel drove the old truck down the logging road, sticking to four wheel drive and the sides of the road where he could. Twice he had had to make everyone get out and then take a run at a particularly bad section of road before they all climbed in once more. It was late morning before they found route 177. A short time later they found route 11 and headed back toward the small city of Watertown.

Watertown: Joel and Haley

Late Afternoon

The city was a mess. Buildings toppled, streets blocked off with debris, no power and no people out on the streets that they had seen. It had taken most of the early afternoon to work their way back to Jacob’s Superette. They had all wondered more than once why they were bothering to go back there. A place to start, Joel had finally decided, and everyone had agreed. If they had not left that is probably where they would still be, riding out this disaster.

Joel had wheeled the truck up next to the closed doors and they had all climbed out of the truck. The doors were closed and reinforced from the inside. Twice they had seen movement behind the stacks and pallets that had been used to barricade the wide and tall front windows, but no one had opened the doors or answered their calls. They had finally decided that even if they did open the doors they didn’t want to be there. There were plenty of other places in the city that could offer as much, maybe even more.

“We need better weapons,” Haley said as Joel drove. She had changed from the back to the front as they were leaving the market. She sat in the center, Glenn on the other side of her.

“Why?” Glenn asked.

“Because that place creeped me out. Who doesn’t open up to let someone in? Why did they close it all off? What if they have weapons and decided that not answering us wasn’t good enough? What if they had opened up on us? We wouldn’t be discussing this now, that’s for sure.”

“Jesus,” Glenn said.

“Yeah,” Haley said.

“Creeped me out too,” Glenn agreed. “Guess we can’t pretend the whole thing’s going to be fine any longer.”

“Guess not,” Joel agreed.

“Haley is right then… Better get ourselves to a place where we can stock up… Get some trucks, guns and get out of here.”

“What about that wholesale place out across from the mall,” Joel asked.

“Might be the same, but we can try it. Probably have what we need,” Haley agreed.

“Better let the others know,” Glenn told her. Haley turned, slide the rear window of Joel’s truck open and Amber leaned near. A second later she closed the slider and watched as Joel slowly picked his way through the downtown streets and headed for the outskirts of the city.

The Outskirts of the city: The Mall

Against all odds the outskirts of the city seemed completely deserted. At least at first glance. The wholesale place was deserted, the doors barred, chained and locked. A little work with the tire iron from Joel’s truck freed up the chains and a nudge from the nose of his truck shattered the heavy glass doors. Joel and Ed pulled the doors aside and Joel drove the truck in, crunching over the safety glass.

“Might be safer inside,” Glenn said as Joel turned the truck around, narrowly missing one check out aisle and faced back toward the doors.

“I think we’re stuck here for the night,“ Joel said. Stock up, get whatever else we need in the morning and head out. Little gun shop across the street… Truck dealership over at the mall across the street… Should be easy to get what we need.” He levered the door handle and stepped down to the ground.

“Company,” Dave said as Joel turned toward the opening.

“Seven or eight… Came out of that strip mall entrance way across the street,” Terry added.

Joel turned to Haley. “Shotguns… Rifles in the sporting goods’ area.” She nodded as she and Amber sprinted toward the middle of the store.

Company:

The small crowd of people was armed, Joel saw, long before they actually reached the wide street and crossed over into their parking lot. Behind him, in the store, he had heard the sound of breaking glass several times. Presumably Haley and Amber breaking open display cases.

“Think they can see us in here?” he asked.

“Probably too dark,” Glenn answered as Haley and Amber came back with their arms loaded down with high powered rifles and shotguns.

“Careful,” Haley said, her breath coming fast. “These are loaded.” A small line of blood ran away from one knuckle as she passed Joel a rifle that looked like it would be more at home in a war.

“You’re hurt,” Joel said.

Haley laughed. “Just glass from a case… It’s nothing.”

“Not a girl,” Joel said

“Or even close,” Haley agreed with a smile. She stepped close to the front of the entrance way, still deep in shadow, but just behind the shattered doors.

There were a dozen of them when they came to a stop just thirty feet away from the doors. Women and kids, the old man and a younger guy hanging toward the back. The two men and three of the women were armed.

“We know you’re in there,” The lead man shouted out. He was an older man, short silver hair, thin, the ragged remains of a suit hanging from his shoulders. “We don’t want trouble… Just company… Safety… The nights are pretty bad now. I guess you know.” He made to step forward again.

“No… Right there is fine,” Haley said.

The man stopped. “I told you, we come in peace.” The man said as she stepped from the shadows. Scott moved out with her and a second later Amber and Joel joined her. Joel motioned to the rest to stay inside.

“Every bad alien movie I ever saw started just exactly that way,” Haley said.

“Is that what you think?” The man asked. “Aliens? Well, I’m no alien… I don’t know what happened but I don’t think it was alien, or aliens, unless you count the meteor that might or might not have hit us. And I’m obviously not one of the gangs or I wouldn’t be out here in the daylight talking to you.”

The silence held a long time.

“You hear me?” The older man said.

“I heard you,” Haley agreed. “What do you mean one of the gangs? Not one of the gangs?”

The man laughed. A short hard laugh that had nothing to do with amusement at all. “Are you serious?”

“If I wasn’t serious I wouldn’t have asked,” Haley told him.

“But… Okay… Why can’t we do this in there? Look at what I have here… A handful of scared mothers with a few children. The young guy at the back is okay. Why don’t we do this in there. I don’t like being out in the open. It’s just the gangs we have to worry about.” He looked off in all directions as he talked.

Haley looked over the group and then over at Joel. “Nothing we can’t deal with,” Joel agreed. Her eye’s met Amber’s and then Scott’s. They both nodded. “So you know, there are more of us inside. Don’t be stupid.”

“Wouldn’t think of it,” The old man agreed. “John,” he said.

Haley just nodded and motioned him forward.

Early evening

They were all gathered around a small fire that Glenn had started for heat and light. The nights were still cold. Glenn had built the fire in an empty fifty five gallon drum they had rolled out from the back. It the smoke detectors had still been working they would have had trouble, but as it was the smoke just gathered high up in the steel rafters and found it’s way to the outside from there.

“What do you know,” John asked. “That might be a better place to start.”

“Practically nothing,” Glenn answered. “We all met downtown a few days back… Earth quake… Meteor. Everything wrecked and no answers.”

John nodded. “Okay,” He rested his head in his hands for a moment, and then looked up. His eyes were red; the bags under his eyes bruised and heavy. “The second. It happened overnight, the first, the end of the first. I don’t know what it was, anymore than you do, but I suspect the meteor they said would miss us didn’t. Maybe that started a whole chain of events. So, aliens? No. I think our own government did us in though. I can see your view too, because there is something alien about it. About the way we would view it, the way you would view it. Yesterday the planes came over. Big Cargo planes. Sprayed blue stuff over the entire city. We thought for sure we were done right then, but whatever that was it didn’t kill us, didn’t seem to do anything to us… But I wonder, I really do…” He seemed to zone out for a second.

“John?” Glenn asked quietly.

He laughed. “Sorry. I need sleep. Sleep is what I need. Gangs,” he took a deep breath. “This city, most of the cities I’ve been hearing about on the CB are controlled by Gangs now. They’re out all night rounding us up. The other survivors…” He frowned heavily. “I’ll be straight, not much use for other men… ‘Less they think like them. Not much use for the children either. Women, gas, cash,” he laughed again. “They seem to think a day will come when it will all be worth something again.”

“You don’t?” Haley asked.

“I don’t,” John agreed. “I think somebody mucked up badly… I can’t believe it was all an accident. Washington? Dead. L.A.? Dead. New York? Dead as well. There have been reports of the President being killed. In the end the Secret Service deserted him. The few that remained fled. The whole thing fell apart. And it’s no better in other countries from what I have heard on the CB. Some of it could be exaggerated… Could be fear talking… But I don’t think so. I think most of it is absolute truth. I think it all failed and we’re on our own. That’s what I think.”

Haley looked over as Amber sprang to her feet and walked away into the darkness of the store. “I’ll be back,” Haley said. She got up and followed.

“I appreciate the truth, John,” Joel said.

John nodded. “Upset us too. Nothing for it that I can see.”

“Where are you from,” Joel asked.

“Rochester… Haven’t heard much from it except there is a glow to the west… Could be they still have power there.”

“Hey inside!” This from the parking lot that was now edging quickly toward twilight.

“Shit,” Scott said. “Forgot all about that.” He jumped to his feet and headed to the opening, Joel right behind him.

“Guess we’ll have to post a guard or something,” Joel agreed. He stared out at two small groups that stood in the darkness looking around at the deepening shadows. Scott spoke.

“What is it you want?” Scott asked.

“What is it we want? Are you kidding me? We want in there, out of the cold, the night.” The guy was tall and dirty looking in the darkening light, but Scott supposed they all probably looked a little rough. “Talking like that ain’t gonna get you in here,” Scott told him. “In fact it will get you an invitation to hit the road.”

A woman who was leading the second group, off to the right of the first group spoke up. “Look, man. We’re all on edge right now. We just want to share your shelter. Manny is not so good with diplomacy.”

“Manny?” Scott asked.

She nodded to the other group, “Manuel… Manny.

“These groups ain’t bad,” John said from beyond the doorway, hidden in the shadows.

“You vouch for them?” Joel asked.

“No… I won’t go that far. I will say I have seen them around… They are not part of the gangs that are all over the place at night in the city. Not these two.”

“Good enough for me… Ed? Scott? Anyone else have an objection?”

“We’ll just watch them kind of close,” Dave said.”

“Okay… Well, somebody better go get Amber and Haley… Just to be safe.” He turned back to the parking lot and the two waiting groups. “Slow,” he called out. “Slow and keep those rifles pointed down.”

March 6th

Watertown: The Mall

Joel and Haley

Morning

Amber had risen early to the smell of hot food. A few of the women had begun cooking sometime before dawn, and plates were filled with food. Eggs, sausages, toast made over the fire. Burgers, canned ham and more. The store was stocked with all sorts of food. Some of it was going bad, but much of it had stayed preserved in the freezers and coolers. No one had been inside so the cold air had lasted longer without doors opening and closing every two minutes. When would she have a chance to eat real eggs again, Amber asked herself as she devoured the food. She looked over at Haley who was eating as fast as she was.

“Pigs,” Haley agreed. She laughed. “I had no idea how hungry I was.”

“Man oh man. Me either,” Amber agreed.

“It is good,” Manny grinned from nearby. Amber gave him a smile and went back to eating. The conversation ebbed and swelled around them. What to do, where to go.

They had posted guards all night long, and although there were gunshots further away, and a few fires they could see burning back in the city, the night had passed uneventfully.

Their small group had finally decided to go towards Rochester, New York. Glenn had said that he felt that it may be their best bet, due to the fact that there were no large military bases very close to it, and the lake levels would be low for a while, so there should be no flooding.

“It’s probably dead center of the two major fault lines, and it’s further away from the Saint Lawrence,” he had ventured.

They had discussed Syracuse, which was much closer, but rejected it when Terry had pointed out that the finger lakes could easily flood the whole area.

Glenn had agreed, and recalled several articles that had been written about the supposed newly discovered fault lines that crisscrossed the finger lakes.

Haley had pointed out that Watertown had its own military base and reminded them of the new facility that had been under construction in the old caves under the city. More reason to wonder why the military wasn’t here.

“That whole complex is probably under water by now,” Glenn opinioned.

“I agree,” Scott had thrown in. “I worked there last year. It’s nowhere completely sealed up, couldn’t be. There are parts that might be okay, but if there was anyone other than a small staff down there I would be surprised. I don’t see how they could get out of there if they are there. Fort Drum would be a better bet for help.”

“And that didn’t happen,” Joel reminded, bringing the conversation full circle.

Glenn said that he felt the facility was probably destroyed, and had gone on to explain his own belief that anyone in there was either dead or trapped permanently.

“The Black River runs through that entire series of caves, even under most of the city itself. I can’t say for a fact, but I think what most likely would happen is that at least part of the cave system would collapse. They’re done for, if they’re there at all,” he had said.

In the end they had finally decided on Rochester, and they were now discussing how to get there. They had decided, at Terry’s suggestion, to use four wheel drive vehicles of some sort, and Haley had suggested that she and Joel check out the Jeep dealership across the street at the mall to see what they had on the lot.

She had also pointed out that there were several other car dealers in the same area, and if they couldn’t find what they wanted there, they would only have a short walk to another lot to find something suitable.

“If any of it runs,” Scott had added.

“Running as of yesterday,” Manny threw in. “I drove one back into the city to get my family.”

“Didn’t run for us the other day,” Joel added.

“Didn’t for me either,” Manny agreed. “CB said they thought some sort of nuclear bomb, or the meteor.”

“The meteor could have done it?” Amber asked.

“I don’t know, but they seem to think so… CB, they all think they are gods of knowledge.”

They were now discussing how many vehicles they would need, and how many people Joel and Haley would need to drive them back.

“I’m sure,” Terry continued, “that I can get a couple of the others guys to go with us.”

Glenn spoke up. “I really think then, that we ought to approach everyone else and find out who wants to go. They may not want to. We have to accept that you know.”

“He’s right,” Joel agreed, “they may not. How many of them do you know?” he asked of the small group.

“It’s a fairly tight community,” Haley said. “I’m not from here. I mean, the city seems big, the locals not so much. Very small tight knit community.”

“She’s right,” Glenn added. “I’ll go… Terry?” He turned back to Joel. “You too. Let’s go see who we got.“

“I don’t know that they’ll all want to go. I’ve already seen a few leave, and we lost a couple of people this morning,” Amber added.

“She’s right about that,” Glenn agreed, “I saw a couple of people hanging back talking together and they ended up leaving. I guess they aren’t convinced that we should leave. I can’t say I blame them really, the whole thing probably hasn’t even sunk in yet.”

“Well, let’s go see who’s left, and who wants to go then,” Joel decided. “No sense deciding this until we know for sure.”

“You mean if they don’t want to go, you’re not going?” Terry asked.

“No,” Joel said calmly. “I’m going, period.”

“Maybe we should decide right now if all of us want to go,” Glenn said. He looked around at the small assembled group, letting his eyes stop on Ed Weston.

“Ed, Dave?” Glenn asked.

“I’m in,” Ed replied, “I can’t see any reason to stay here, and I think you may be right, Glenn. I’m not so sure this is a safe place to be.” He seemed to be slightly out of sync, Glenn thought, but he answered quickly, and decisively nonetheless.

“I’m in too,” Dave said. “But what if we get to Rochester and it’s the same as here?”

“That’s a chance we’ll have to take,” Glenn replied. “In fact, I wouldn’t doubt that there is damage. My only argument is that it may be safer than here. It’s built on higher ground. It’s also a much larger city, and I think that would increase our chances of finding other people. Maybe it would allow us to get a little more insight, or information, on what happened. Who knows, they may still have power, or some form of police, hell, maybe the television stations there are still working. We don’t know, and the only way we will know is to go and find out. One thing is for certain though, Rochester is definitely built on higher ground than Watertown is. If that lake does rise, I would rather be there than here.”

Glenn looked around at the small group, and then continued.

“So, if we’re all in agreement, I guess we better go talk to the others and see how many of them are going with us, agreed” he asked turning to Haley. “You and Joel will have an idea of how many trucks we are going to need; get some drivers… How long you figure, an hour or so? I mean to get ready to go.”

“It will probably be a good three hours before we get what we need and get back,” Haley replied after a quick look at Joel who nodded.

“I think you better do the talking, Glenn,” Joel said, “They know you better than they know me, and if we’re going to get out of here today we better get our asses in gear too.”

With that the small group walked to the front of the store, where the other people had congregated by the shattered doors.

“Folks,” Glenn said as he held his hands over his head to get them to quiet down, “I’d like to talk to you.”

Most of the people there either knew Glenn, or knew of him, and they had an idea of what was coming, as most of them had been standing around listening when the conversation had first turned to leaving. They turned expectantly towards Glenn now, and waited for him to begin to speak.

“As most of you know,” Glenn began, “I’m in favor of leaving Watertown. I think you’ve all heard my reasons so I won’t go into them, but what I would like to let you know, is that if we’re going to go, and the eight of us are,” Glenn lowered his hands and gestured to include the group of people that stood around and near him, “we need to know if any of you are going to come along.”

No one answered for a few seconds. Glenn was about to begin speaking, if only to break the oppressive silence, when someone finally did. It was not what he had expected however.

“Hey? Who died and left you the boss,” a young teenager in the small group yelled out.

The young man stepped forward. His long stringy, dirty hair hung into his eyes, and he pushed it away with the back of his hand as he glared at Glenn.

“I never said I was the boss of anything,” Glenn replied quietly. “At least I don’t recall saying it.” Glenn stared calmly back at the young man.

“Well you’re the ones been doing all the talking. Who are you to say what we should or shouldn’t be doing? And how come I never heard about no fuckin’ fault line, huh?”

“Maybe if you could read,” a young man said from behind him, as he also stepped out of the small group, “you would know. It was in the paper just a few weeks ago. And if you went to school you probably would have learned about it there too. I never heard him say anything about being in charge either, but they were the ones who decided to at least do something. We were all standing around out here with our fingers up our asses before they showed up. What is it; do you still think somebody is going to show up and save us?”

The two young men were now facing each other, and the small group around them seemed to be waiting to see what would happen next.

“Listen,” Joel said as he stepped towards them. “This isn’t the time or place for this sort of crap: If you don’t want to be here fine. Nobody said you had to go anywhere. Glenn simply asked you if you wanted to go.” Joel paused as he stared at the two young men. “Sounds more as if you’ve got some sort of problem with authority. If so, that’s something you’ll have to deal with on your own time. The fact is that we can’t stay here, and we’ve decided we’re going. It’s an invitation for you to join us, but you can stay right here for all I care.”

“Oh yeah?” the kid glared at Joel.

“Look,” Joel replied, staring back, “If you have some real objections state them: Otherwise shut up, listen, or hit the road.”

“I’m outta here. Screw you people,” the young man said as he glared at Joel, and the others from the small group that had moved up beside him. “You guys do what you want, I’m leaving,” he finished. He pushed his dirty hair from his eyes once more as he turned and walked out of the store.

“Listen!” Joel said, raising his voice. “I don’t think we all have to start acting like a bunch of morons. We’re all in this together, why don’t you just listen to what Glenn has to say, and then you can decide.”

The other young man lowered the hands he had raised, and turned back towards Glenn expectantly. The rest of the crowd, realizing that the confrontation was over, and they weren’t going to see a fight, turned their attention back to Glenn. Glenn waited for them to quiet before he resumed talking.

“Let me make this clear,” Glenn said as he began to speak quietly. “I don’t want to lead anyone. All I really care about is getting out of here, same as most of you.”

Haley watched as Glenn spoke, and thought, kind of late for that, Glenn. She had noticed that everyone had seemed to gravitate to Glenn earlier when he had begun to speak. He had that kind of personality, she supposed. They also seemed to be drawn to Joel, and more than a few had asked her what her feelings were about the situation. Are we leading? She asked herself, as she turned her attention back to Glenn.

“What we have to know,” Glenn was saying, “is who wants to come with us.”

“Where will we go?” an older man asked as Glenn paused. Glenn explained their choice, and why they had made it as the group listened.

“Now, there are eight of us, and we need to know how many cars we’re going to need to get us all there. Joel and Haley are going over to the Jeep dealership and try to find us some four wheelers that will fit the bill. New if they will run, older ones if they won’t.”

“Ain’t that stealing?” someone asked.

“Not as I see it,” Glenn replied. “As I see it, they don’t belong to anyone anymore. I mean… Anyone see any police? Or really, if you think of it, has anyone seen anybody at all in authority?” he waited briefly, before continuing, half expecting the young kid to pop back in the door and say, Nobody ‘cept you, you old bastard. When he didn’t Glenn was relieved, and once again began speaking.

“No, I think being arrested for car theft is the least of our problems. I ain’t saying it wasn’t a good thought to bring up, but I’m not too worried about that at all. What I am worried about… The main thing right now anyway, is to get this show on the road before it gets much later,” Glenn said, and paused. “So, if no one has any real objections, I’d like a show of hands so we can figure out who’s going and who’s staying.”

With no discussion, five members of the dwindling group, among them the young man who had been involved in the earlier argument, turned and walked to the far side of the wide double front doors, shaking their heads as they went. The remaining people began, slowly at first, with glances at their neighbors, to raise their hands.

“Don’t just raise your hand if you’re not sure, or just because the guy standing next to you did,” Glenn said. “You have to be sure, and you should know that we may not make it. We don’t have the slightest idea what we’re going to run into on the way, or even if we’ll get there. So you better be sure, because once we go we ain’t coming back. So who’s positive?”

Several hands that had been up went down, and their owners quickly gravitated to the smaller group that had begun to form by the front doors.

Glenn looked at the young dark-haired kid he had been sure would end up with them, and then at Joel, who shrugged his shoulders and said, “Go figure.”

Four remained waiting.

“Okay then,” Joel said, “I guess we’ll only need three cars. Who wants to go with Haley and me?” There were two women and the older man who had spoken earlier.

“I’ll go,” one of the young women said, stepping forward. The older man stepped forward as well and volunteered.

“I don’t think we need both of you,” Haley said. “Jan,” she said speaking to the woman who had stepped forward first, “if you want to come, let’s get going.”

The woman followed Haley and Joel out the front doors, as the older man walked over to Glenn.

“Let’s go back to the rear” Glenn said in a low voice as he leaned closer to Scott. “I’m not so sure I want to stand up here and discuss our plans, if you catch my drift.”

“My thought exactly,” Scott said, as they walked towards the rear of the store.

Scott, Glenn, and Dave, rested up against a wide cooler at the back of the store as Glenn spoke. The two young women, Lilly and Gina, both of whom were in their late teens, stood nearby with the older man who Glenn knew as John Bolton, a retired city Councilman from the Rochester area. He had been leading one of the groups that had come in yesterday. Bolton had retired and moved to Watertown to escape the crime in Rochester. He would definitely be an asset, Glenn thought.

“Ed?” Glenn asked. “We’re going to need some other things before we go. I think maybe a couple more rifles, some camping gear, you know, things like that. If I make up a quick list, I was thinking maybe you and Gina might not mind getting it together, would you?”

“Sure,” Ed replied, “you a little concerned about that group up front?”

Glenn leveled his eyes at Ed. “Them and any others like them. I’m not so sure they can be trusted. I saw Brad Saser in the crowd there, and he had a gun of some sort stuffed into his waist band.”

“I saw that too,” Dave said, and then went on. “Did you see the way he tensed up when it looked like those two kids were going to get into it?” Dave finished.

“Yes,” Glenn replied, “I did, and it’s something I thought of earlier. I saw some others carrying guns, when we were down to the Square. I don’t much like it, but I think we have to have our own, even if only to play it safe. I mean rifles and shotguns are fine, but it doesn’t appear it’s just the gangs we have to worry about. Looks like the good guys ain’t all good guys.”

“I agree,” John said. “I spent a good deal of time in Rochester, and I took to carrying a gun with me wherever I went. I think, especially now, since we don’t seem to have any police to protect us, it’s the only smart thing to do.”

“I agree,” Scott said.

The others in the small group murmured their agreement along with him.

“Dave?” Glenn said, as he looked at him, “We’re also going to need some canned goods. Maybe some bottled water, soda, canned meats. How about you and Lilly start getting that together. Be sure to stick to the canned stuff, and toss in some basic medical stuff, you know aspirin, bandage, whatever you think we might need.” Dave nodded his head and left with Lilly. Glenn scrawled a quick list for Ed and Gina, and sent them on their way. The three remaining men watched them walk off, and then Glenn said,

“Scott? Did you see any state maps up front, at the checkouts?”

“I believe I did,” he replied, as he walked away to get one.

Scott glanced over at the group of people, who were still huddled by the front doors, as he picked up several maps and headed back to the rear of the store. They were all huddled together to one side of the front doors, talking in low whispers, and more than a few of them had turned his way as he picked up the maps.

Glenn and John were sitting on the rail of a long meat counter, talking, and drinking a couple of beers when Scott returned.

“They’re still cold if you get ’em from the back,” Glenn said as Scott approached.

Scott reached into the cooler and snagged one of the beers from the back of the cooler, where ice had formed on the condenser unit. It hadn’t completely melted in the cool interior of the store. He took a long drink of the cool liquid. Probably won’t be drinking too many cold beers anymore, he thought. He reached into the cooler fished out a six pack from the back, and carried it over to the two men who were still talking. Glenn and John both helped themselves to another beer as Scott spoke.

“Group up front is still there, and they eyeballed me pretty good when I went up to get the maps.”

“It’s probably a good thing we’re leaving,” John said. John had been in the crowd at the front of the store earlier and hadn’t liked the way the conversation had been going. “There’s a couple of loony’s in that crowd, and I’m just as glad they’re not with us.”

“I feel about the same,” Glenn said.

Scott opened one of the maps, and spread it over the glass top of the meat case.

“John thinks the best way is probably Route 3,” Glenn said.

“It cuts around the lake,” John explained, picking up the conversation. “If it’s true, what Glenn suspects about the fault line, it may be a tough way to go. But you’ve got to consider the other route, and I don’t think that’s a good choice at all. If we don’t go 3, we’re stuck with Route 81 to Syracuse, and the Thruway west from there. I think we all made up our minds to avoid Syracuse, so that leaves Route 3. That will take us into Route 104, and if we take that west it will bring us into Rochester. Of course there’s still the lake to contend with.”

“I don’t think the lake is a problem,” Glenn said, “the fault line runs across the basin of the Great lakes. If it did shift, it would be a problem we might have to face down the line, but that would only be if we try to go farther west.”

“If it shifted, let’s say it did for the sake of argument, there’s no real way to know at this point anyway, we could have one hell of a big river splitting the whole eastern end of the continent, from Canada, all the way down to the Gulf coast somewhere. I know, I already been beatin’ on that horse, but I think it’s the most likely explanation. I read about it, what could happen if the fault were somehow triggered, in an article in the paper a few years back. It may seem a bit far-fetched, but there’s a lot of fact to back it up. The lakes would drop at first, and then they would level out as the new river fills up, and begin to rise again. That’s a basic way of putting it I guess, but that’s the gist of it. Right now though, if that lake really is dropping, we shouldn’t have too much trouble getting into Rochester.”

“You don’t think the road will be busted up, or flooded?” Scott asked.

“I doubt it’ll be flooded,” John replied, “if the lake is dropping, that should keep the road dry. I’m not so sure it won’t be broken up some though, and we may run into some stalled traffic I suppose, but being as it was night time, the traffic shouldn’t be too awful bad, and Four Wheel Drive should get us around the worst of it anyhow.”

“I’d say it’s a much better bet than Route 81 and the Thruway,” Glenn said. “The traffic is pretty damn heavy there all the time.”

“Tell me about it.” Scott said, “I came down eighty-one on my way here the day I met you guys. I was out in Adams working that day, just happened to come in to the city. Nothing but Army trucks and traffic bumper to bumper.”

“Well then,” Glenn said, “that decides that. John, what do you think our chances are, when we get there, of finding it still standing?”

John shrugged his shoulders as he replied. “Good as any, I guess, there’s no real way to tell. I don’t think the damage here was caused by the meteor, I think we all agree it was most likely an earthquake, but that doesn’t mean Rochester’s still standing. And it says nothing about what’s beyond Rochester.”

The other two men nodded in agreement. He was right, Scott realized, as he pulled another beer from the plastic collar that held it. They would simply have to get there before they knew. He sat beside them on the small rail drinking the semi-cold beer.

A short time later a loud commotion at the front of the store, caught their attention.

“Shit,” Scott said as the three of them hurried in the direction of the front of the store, “What the hell’s up now?” …

………………………………

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Earth’s Survivors Weekly Serial presentation – 1

Earth's Survivors Weekly Serial presentation - 1

EARTH’S SURVIVORS

Earth’s Survivors is copyright © 2016 Dell Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet

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LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2016 Wendell Sweet and his assignee Andrea Scroggs. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.


PROLOGUE

Route 81 rest-stop

Watertown New York

April 20th

1:00 am

A black truck pulled into the rest stop and two men climbed out; walking toward the rest rooms that sat in from the road. Concrete bunker looking buildings that had been built back in the early seventies. They had been closed for several years now. In fact the Open soon sign was bolted to the front of the building; rust streaked the sign surface. It seemed like some sort of joke to Mike Bliss who used the rest stop as a place to do light duty drug deals. Nothing big, but still that depended on your idea of big. Certainly nothing over a few thousand dollars. That was his break off point. Any higher than that, he often joked, you would have to talk to someone in Columbia… Or maybe Mexico, he told himself now as he sat waiting in his Lexus, but it seemed that since Rich Dean had got himself dead the deals just seemed to be getting larger and larger. And who knew how much longer that might last. He watched the two men make a bee line for the old rest rooms.

“Idiots,” he muttered to himself. He pushed the button, waited for the window to come down, leaned out the window and yelled. “What are you, stupid? They’re closed.” He motioned with one hand. “You can’t read the fuckin’ sign or what?”

Both men stopped and looked from him to the sign.

“Yeah, closed. You can read right? Closed. That’s what it says. Been closed for years. Go on into Watertown; buy a fuckin’ burger or something. Only way you’re getting a bathroom at this time of the morning.” He had lowered his voice for the last as he pulled his head back into the car, and turned the heater up a notch. The electric motor whined as the window climbed in its track. He looked down at his wrist for the time, 1:02 A.M., where the fuck was this dude. He was late, granted a few minutes, but late was late.

A sharp rap on the glass startled him. He had been about to dig out his own supply, a little pick-me-up. He looked up to see the guys from the truck standing outside his window. “Oh… Fucking lovely,” he muttered. He pushed the button and the window lowered into the door, the motor whining loudly, the cold air blew in.

“And what can I do for you two gentlemen,” He asked in his best smart ass voice.

The one in back stepped forward into the light. Military type, Mike told himself. Older, maybe a noncom. A little gray at the edges of his buzz cut. With the military base so close there were soldiers everywhere, after all Watertown was a military town. It was why he was in the business he was in. It was also why he succeeded at it.

“Did you call me stupid,” The man asked in a polite tone.

“Who, me? No. I didn’t call you stupid, I asked, what are you, stupid? Different thing. The fuckin’ place is closed… Just doing my good deed for the day… Helping you, really, so you don’t waste no time,” Mike told him.

“Really?” The man asked.

Mike chuckled. “Yeah really, tough guy. Really. Now, I did my good deed, why don’t you get the fuck out of here ’cause you wore out your welcome.” He opened his coat slightly so they could see the chrome 9 mm that sat in its holster.

“Really,” the first guy repeated.

“Okay, who are you guys, frick and frack? A couple of fucking wannabees? Well I am the real deal, don’t make me stick this gun in your fuckin’ face,” Mike told them. He didn’t like being a dick, but sometimes you had to be.

“You know what my mother always said about guns?” The second guy asked.

“Well, since I don’t know your mama it’s hard to say,” Mike told him. He didn’t like the way these two were acting. They weren’t cops, he knew all the locals. If it had been someone he had to worry about he would have handled this completely differently. These guys were nobodies. At least nobodies to him, and that made them nobodies to Watertown. If he had to put a bullet in… His thoughts broke off abruptly as the barrel of what looked like a .45 was jammed into his nose. It came from nowhere. He sucked in a deep breath. He could taste blood in his mouth where the gun had smashed his upper lip against his teeth.

“She said don’t threaten to pull a gun, never. Just pull it.”

“Mama had a point,” Mike allowed. His voice was nasally due to the gun that was jammed hallway up to his brain. “Smart lady.”

“Very,” the man allowed. “Kind of a hard ass to grow up with, but she taught me well.” He looked down at Mike. “So listen, this is what we’re gonna do. You’re gonna drive out of here right the fuck now. And that’s going to stop me from pulling this trigger. Lucky day for you, I think. Like getting a Get Out Of Jail Free card, right.”

“This is my business spot… You don’t understand,” Mike told them. “I… I’m waiting for someone.”

“Not tonight, Michael.”

“Yeah, but you don’t.” He stopped. “How do you know my name?” he asked. There was more than a nasal quality to his voice, now there was real fear. Maybe they were Feds. Maybe.

“Yeah, we know you. And we know you use this spot as a place to do your business. And I’m saying we couldn’t care less, but right now you gotta go, and I’m not going to tell you the deal again. You can leave or stay, but you ain’t gonna like staying,” The guy told him.

Listen… This is my town… If you guys are Feds you can’t do shit like this… This is my town. You guys are just…

The guy pulled the trigger and Mike jumped. He fell to the right, across the front seat. Both men stepped away from the car, eyes scanning the lonely rest stop from end to end, but there was no one anywhere. The silence returned with a ringing in their ears from the blast as it had echoed back out of the closed car interior. The shooter worked his jaw for a moment, swallowing until his ears popped. He lifted his wrist to his mouth. “Guess you saw that,” he said quietly.

“Got a cleaner crew on the way up. You’ll pass them in the elevators. The boss is waiting on you guys.“ The voice came through the implant in his inner ear. No one heard what was said except him.

He nodded for the cameras that were picking him up. “In case you didn’t hear it, someone is supposed to meet him here so your cleaner crew could have company.”

“Got that too… We’ll handle it.” He nodded once more, and then walked off toward the rest rooms as the other man followed.

Once in back of the unit they used a key in the old rusted handset. It only looked old and rusty, it was actually an interface for a state of the art digital system that would read his body chemistry, heat, and more. The key had dozens of micro pulse sensor implants that made sure the user was human, transmitted heartbeat, body chemistry, it could even tell male from female and match chemical profiles to known examples in its database. Above and to the sides of them several scanners mapped their bodies to those same known profiles. Bone composition, old fractures, density and more. All unique in every man or women. The shooter removed the key and slipped it into his pocket. A few seconds later a deep whining of machinery reached their ears, the door shuddered in its frame, and then slipped down into a pocket below the doorway.

A second later they stepped into the gutted restroom. Stainless steel doors took up most of the room; the elevator to the base below. They waited for the cleaner crew to come up, then took the elevator back down into the depths.

~

The Bluechip facility stretched for more than five miles underground. Most of that was not finished space, most of that was connector tunnels, and storage space bored from the rock. The facility itself was about three thousand feet under the city of Watertown in a section of old caves that had been enlarged, concrete lined and reinforced. The rest area was one of several entrances that led into the complex. An old farm on the other side of Watertown, an abandoned factory in the industrial park west of the city and a few other places, including direct connections from secure buildings on the nearby base.

John Pauls and Sammy Black had Alpha clearance. Both were ex-military, but most likely military clearance was no longer a real matter of concern this late in the game, Sammy thought as they made their way down the wide hallway. The word coming down from those in the know was that in the next twenty-four hours the human race would come very close to ceasing to exist at all. No confirmation from anyone official, but regular programming was off air, the news stations were tracking a meteor that may or may not hit the Earth. The best opinions said it didn’t matter if it hit or not, it would be a close enough pass that there would be massive damage. Maybe the human race would be facing extinction. The government was strangely silent on the subject. And that had made him worry even more. The pass was estimated to be right over the tip of south America. So maybe formalities like Alpha clearance weren’t all that important any longer. If only Mike Bliss had given that some thought before he had pissed him off.

The halls were silent, nearly empty. Gloss white panels eight feet high framed it. It had always reminded Black of a maze with its twists and turns. Here and there doors hung open. Empty now. Always closed any other time he had been down here. So it had come this far too, Black thought. He stopped at a door that looked like any other door and a split second later the door rose into the ceiling and Major Weston waved them in.

Alice, he had never learned her last name, sat at her desk, her eyes on them as they walked past her. One hand rested on the butt of a matte black .45 caliber pistol in a webbed shoulder holster that was far from Army issue, and Sammy had no doubt she would shoot them both before they could even react. Alice was etched into one of those name pins that the Army seemed to like so well, but oddly, just Alice, no last name, rank or anything else. She wore no uniform, just a black coverall. The kind with the elastic ankle and wrist cuffs. No insignia there either. He had noticed that months before. Her eyes remained flat and expressionless as they passed her desk.

“Alice,” Sammy said politely. She said nothing at all, but she never did.

“Sit down, boys,” Major Weston told them. He spoke around the cigar in his mouth: Dead, but they always were, and there was never the smell of tobacco in the office. They took the two chairs that fronted the desk.

The Major was looking over a large monitor on the opposite wall that showed the north American continent. This map showed small areas of red, including the northern section where they were. The rest of the map was covered with green. “Where we are, and where we need to be,“ he said as he pushed a button on his desk. The monitor went blank. He turned to face the two.

“So here is where we are. You know, as does most of the world, that we are expecting a near miss from DX2379R later on tonight.” He held their eyes.

John shrugged. “I’ve been doing a little job, must have missed that. It’s not gonna take us out is it?”

“Saw that on the news a few days back. Guess we dodged a bad one,” Sammy said.

“Right… Right,” Weston said quietly. “But that cover was nothing but bullshit.”

“It’s going to hit us?” John asked.

“Maybe… The fact is that we don’t know. One group says this, another group says that, but it doesn’t matter because it will probably kill us off anyway. Direct hit, near miss, it is going to tip over an already bad situation with the Yellowstone Caldera.” He raised his eyes, “Familiar with that?”

“Yellowstone park?” Sammy said.

John nodded in agreement.

Weston laughed. “Put simply, yes. Yellowstone has always been an anomaly to us. Back in 1930 the Army did an exploratory survey of that area. What we came up with was that there was a section of the Rocky Mountains missing. Looked at from the top of Mount Washburn it was easy for the team to see that the largest crater of an extinct volcano known to exist lay before them.”

“I guess that’s about what I thought,” Sammy agreed.

“Yeah. We all think that. Except it is not true at all because the Yellowstone caldera is not extinct, it is active. Active and about to pop. There have been several warnings, but we took the recording stations off line quite some time ago, so there has been no mention of it in the news. Budget cuts,” he shrugged. “So everyone is focused on this meteor that may or may not hit us and instead this volcanic event is going to blow up and when that happens the rest won’t matter at all.” He clicked the button on his desk and the monitor came to life. “All the red areas are spots where the surface pressure has increased. There was, at one time, many active volcanoes on the north American continent.” He clicked a button and the map changed to a view of the European continent with many of the same red shaded areas.

“All over the Earth… Higher pressures. Up until a few days ago the brainiacs were still arguing over whether this could even happen.” He laughed. “It is happening and they are arguing over whether it can happen. Well, we had our little debates and then we realized that history shows clearly that this has happened before. Several times. Call it the Earth’s way of cleansing itself.”

“But it’s not an absolute, right?”Sammy asked.

“Don’t start sounding like the scientists.” He reached below his desk and came up with six small silver cartridges. Each had a red button mounted on the top with a protective cap over the button itself. He clicked a button on his desk, and a picture of destruction appeared on the screens. It was obviously an aerial shot, looking down at a chain of islands. Smoke hung over the chain, reaching as high as the plane itself. As the plane dropped lower, rivers of red appeared. “That picture is an hour old. That is… Was, the Hawaiian chain.”

Sammy twisted further to the side, staring at the monitor. “How can that be… I mean everyone would know about it.” He turned back to Weston.

Weston nodded. “And that would be true except the satellites are out because of the asteroid. Shut down to avoid damage. That is the official word.” He clicked the button on his desk and the monitor went dead once more. “I started this out saying that none of it matters and that is true. The Yellowstone caldera is going to erupt sometime in the next few days. Not a maybe, not an educated guess: If the satellites were up you would know that the park is closed. It has already started. We have had a few small quakes, but the big stuff is on the way. He rolled the cartridges across the desktop; Sammy and John caught them.

“Super volcanoes… Earthquakes that modern civilization has never seen… The last super eruption was responsible for killing off the human population some seventy-four thousand years ago. Reduced it to a few thousand. And that is not the biggest one we have evidence of.” He lifted his palms and spread them open, sighing as he did. “So it is a double whammy. If we survive the meteor the volcanoes get us, or the earthquakes because of them, or we’ll die from injuries. And I think those of us who die outright will be lucky. The rest of us will have a hard time of it… Staying alive with nothing… We will probably all starve to death.” He paused in the silence.

“Those cartridges are a compound developed right here in this complex for the armed forces. Project Super Soldier. SS for short. That kept people from looking too deep, they assumed it was something to do with the Nazi youth movement here and abroad. We let that misconception hold.” He waited a second for his words to sink in. “SS is designed to prolong life past the normal point of termination. It allows a soldier to survive longer without food and more importantly without water. Does something to the cells of the host, I don’t pretend to know what. What I do know is that the people above me made the decision to release this…” He picked up a mug of coffee from the desk and sipped deeply. His eyes were red road maps, Sammy noticed now. Like he hadn’t slept in a few days.

“So this is it for us. I guess you realize that you probably won’t get paid for this. No money is going to show up in your account. I will run it through before I pull the plug, but I truly believe the machinery will be dead by the time payday rolls around. So this is something I’m asking you to do.” He pointed to the cartridges that both men were looking over. Sammy held his as though it might bite him.

“Those babies are really all we have to hope with. Most people will die outright. They will never make it past the quakes, eruptions, and the resulting ash clouds and gases. Up here we should be okay as far as gases go, eruptions, but there are fault lines that crisscross this area. This whole facility is bored from limestone caverns. Probably won’t make it through the quakes, although it is a good eighty miles from the closest line,” he shrugged. “Maybe, maybe not. My point is there should be a good chance for survivors here.”

“So we do what with these? Can they harm us?” John asked.

“Harm you, kill you? No, but you will be infected the minute you push that button. It will protect you the same as anyone else. There is enough in a single cartridge to infect about five hundred million people,” Weston said quietly.

“Whoa,” Sammy whistled. “Why infect… Why not inoculate? And why six cartridges… Three Billion people?”

“Minimum, three billion. That is before those infected pass it along themselves: After a while it won’t matter. As to the question of infected, this is a designer virus. You catch it just like the flu. We infected whole platoons by releasing it in the air over them. Eighty-Nine point seven percent infection rate, but that doesn’t really matter because it infects people close to you and those people will infect you… Sneezing, waste, sex, water, food, it gets into and on everything. And once it is in you, either orally or via bloodstream you will be infected. The human body has nothing to fight it, no reason to be alarmed or believe it’s anything more than a virus. And that same response will help to carry it to every area of the body as your own defenses manufacture white blood cells to fight it. So you may as well say a one hundred percent infection rate.” He paused and rubbed at his temples.

“Be glad they decided on this. They have some others that will kill everybody in the world in a matter of days.” Weston nodded at the raised eyebrows that greeted his remarks. “I don’t doubt that the merits of which way to go were hotly debated,” he finished gravely.

“The virus is designed to live within the host, but it can live outside of the host. It can stay alive in a dead body for days, even if the body is frozen. In fact that just freezes the virus too, once the body is thawed it will infect any living person that comes along. So those,” he pointed to the silver cartridges, “are overkill. Same stuff is being released across the globe. Great Briton… Germany… Australia… West coast just a few hours ago. Manhattan has already been done, all the East Coast in fact. I want the two of you to head out from here. One vial here, then one of you head west, the other south. Go for the bigger cities… Water supplies… Reservoirs… Release it in the air or water, it doesn’t matter. There are men heading out from the south, the west coast. The Air Force will be dispersing the same stuff via cargo planes tomorrow or the next day… As long as they can fly, if we can even make it that long, and that isn’t looking really good right now…” He rose from the desk. “I’ll see you out.” He turned to Alice. “Alice… Pack us up.” Alice nodded as Sammy and John got to their feet, but her hand remained on the butt of the pistol. Rubber grips, Sammy noticed as he passed her.

“Alice,” he said.

“Um hmm,” Alice murmured.

Sammy nearly stopped in his tracks, but managed to hide his surprise as he passed by into the hallway. The Major fished two sets of keys from his pocket. “Parked in the back lot. A couple of plain Jane Dodge four-bys. Drive ’em like you stole ’em. Leave ’em where you finish up. Hell, keep ’em if you want ’em. Nobody is going to care.”

The three stood in the hallway for a few seconds longer. Sammy’s eyes locked with the Major’s own, and he nodded. The major walked back into his office, and the door rose from its pocket behind him. Quiet, except the slight buzzing from the fluorescent lights.

John shrugged as his eyes met Sammy’s, waiting.

Sammy sighed. “You heard the man… West or south?”

“Flip for it?” John asked. His mouth seemed overly dry and he licked his lips nervously.

Sammy pulled a quarter from his pocket and flipped it into the air. “Call it, Johnny.”

“Tails,” John said just before the quarter hit the carpet.

Sammy bent forward. “Tails it is. You got it, Johnny.”

John looked down at the carpet. “West, I guess.” John said.

Sammy nodded, looked down once more at the quarter and then both men turned and walked away toward the elevator that would take them back to the surface.


More? Check out the whole series at:

Amazon U.S – U.KiTunes | NOOK | KOBO | Smashwords


 

iTunes and the Earth’s Survivors book series

iTunes and the Earth’s Survivors book series


  1. Seven books in one collection. Follow the survivors as they struggle to survive in a vastly changed world, where the living are just as likely to kill you as the dead are… This release of this box set puts the series to an end…


  2. When he had first tried to sit up pain had flared everywhere and the black curtain had descended once more. The second time the fires had been out. Heat still came from the blackened shells, but the fires were dead. The moon was high in the sky…


  3. Something hit the truck hard and it rocked on its springs. The smell of death hit them and Beth hit the gas, mashing the pedal into the floor boards. A rotting hand came through the open back window and fastened around Beth’s throat…


  4. Since this journal will be part of who we are, will document The Fold as it continues to grow and is established, I want the understanding to be there from the beginning of our creation. They forced us out, simply because we challenged them.


  5. Watertown tells the story of Billy Jingo, Alice Tetto, Ben Neo and Jimmy West and a drug deal designed to hide the transfer of a top secret drug stolen from the Underground Bluechip facility, that goes very wrong…


  6. Plague outlines the sudden rise of the dead, chronicling the spread across the country. It follows Adam, Beth, Billy and Pearl as they head north looking for an antidote that can bring the plagues to end.


  7. Mike and Candace have left New York in search of the land Billy and Beth swear exists in the former state of Alabama. They will lose people close to them as they travel and the fight against the plague will be bought home to them forcefully


  8. The Earth’s Survivors series of books follow the people that survive and set out to rebuild their lives. At first hoping only to make it day by day, but ultimately looking to the future and rebuilding a society where fear does not rule…


 9.

From L.A. To Manhattan the cities, governments have toppled and lawlessness is the rule. The dead lay in the streets while gangs fight for control of what is left. Small groups band together to leave the ravaged cities…


10.
A meteorite becomes the cap to a series of events that destroy the world as we know it. Police, fire, politicians, military, governments: All gone. Hopes, dreams, tomorrows: All buried in a desperate struggle to survive.



Authors at Amazon

Authors at Amazon

  Dell Sweet On Amazon:

The Zombie Plagues: Book Two

Jul 4, 2010

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The Zombie Plagues: Book One

Apr 10, 2009

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The Zombie Plagues: Book Four

Apr 5, 2018

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The Zombie Plagues: Book Three

Apr 5, 2018

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The Zombie Plagues: Book Three

Mar 28, 2011

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The Zombie Plagues: Book Four

Apr 11, 2012

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The Zombie Plagues: Book One

Apr 16, 2015

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The Zombie Plagues: Book Two

Apr 16, 2015

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The Zombie Plagues Collection Two (The Zombie Plague Collection) (Volume 2)

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The Zombie Plagues Collection One (Volume 1)

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 Andrea Scroggs on Amazon


 

Invariant: A Graphic Story

Apr 11, 2014

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Amazon’s Andrea Scroggs Page

Author of Invariant – Ranked Number #1 in Military, Sci-fi and Horror Graphic Novels on Amazon. Ranked Amazon Top #100 in Graphic Novels.

After graduating high school Andrea Scroggs spent a few years traveling to places like Kenya, Japan, More about Andrea Scroggs

Bestselling Books: Invariant: A Graphic Story.



 Geo Dell on Amazon


Earth’s Survivors Collection Two

Oct 31, 2016

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Dreamer’s Worlds: Sparrow Spirit (Volume 2)

Oct 14, 2015

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Dreamer’s Worlds: The Dreamer’s Worlds (Volume 1)

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Top Dell Sweet books on Amazon

Rocket

Feb 27, 2018

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The Earth’s Survivors series on Nook

Earth’s Survivors: Apocalypse: This is a free Nook eBook! Follow the survivors http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-apocalypse-dell-sweet/1121153067?ean=9781507793053


Earth’s Survivors: Rising From The Ashes. Those who have survived begin to rebuild… http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-rising-from-the-ashes-dell-sweet/1121175996?ean=9781482301731


The Nation: Adam and Cammy have made their way as best they can despite the gangs. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-the-nation-mr-wendell-g-sweet/1122031857?ean=9781482512274


Earth’s Survivors: Home In The Valley. The valley is safety, until the first mission out… http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-dell-sweet/1122252251?ean=2940152008579


Earth’s Survivors: Plague. The plagues have come. The living must fight or join the dead… http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-dell-sweet/1122252296?ean=2940152010350


Earth’s Survivors Watertown: Two of the virus were missing, enough to infect millions Previews! http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-dell-sweet/1123456106?ean=9781530650651


World Order: The Fold becomes the biggest challenge to the Nations power. #Nook #eBook #Horror FREE Previews! https://t.co/RmYEvdioyr


All of Dell Sweet’s books on Nook, paperback and eBook formats… Earth’s Survivors, Short Stories, more. #Stories

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/%22dell%20Sweet%22


Earth’s Survivors box set contains the entire Earth’s Survivors series in one volume. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-box-set-dell-sweet/1124605603



 

iTunes The Zombie Plagues links

iTunes The Zombie Plagues links


THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES LINKS GEO DELL


The Zombie Plagues Book One

The Zombie Plagues – The Zombie Plagues, no. 1

Geo Dell: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-book-one/id712828059?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Book Two

The Zombie Plagues – The Zombie Plagues, no. 2

The living have fallen only to rise again as the living dead… #iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-book-two/id712828153?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Book Three

The Zombie Plagues – The Zombie Plagues, no. 3

The struggle for life is contested by the dead, if you lose they win #Zombie #iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-book-three/id718606094?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Book Four

The Zombie Plagues – The Zombie Plagues, no. 4

The living turn the tables and begin to hunt the dead.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/zombie-plagues-book-four-outrunners/id757924377?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Book Five

The Zombie Plagues – The Zombie Plagues, no. 5

The new society of the living faces major problems that may break it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-book-five/id987794002?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Book Six

The Zombie Plagues – The Zombie Plagues, no. 6

Plague is the new book in the Zombie Plagues series. How the Undead Apocalypse started… #Undead #Zombie #Horror https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-plague/id1278635477?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Box Set

The Zombie Plagues – Box Set

He came awake in the darkness, but awake wasn’t precisely the term. Alive was precisely the term #Dead #zombies https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-zombie-plagues-box-set/id1257737729?mt=11


The Zombie Plagues Dead Road

The Zombie Plagues – Dead Road

The Collected books. The complete Zombie Plagues collection in one volume #Undead #Dead #iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/zombie-plagues-dead-road-collected/id1138525466?mt=11



 

Earths Survivors The Zombie Killers: Origins by Dell Sweet

Earths Survivors The Zombie Killers: Origins

Overview

Earths Survivors The Zombie Killers: Origins by Dell Sweet

THE ZOMBIE KILLERS: ORIGINS

Bear
August 4th

We were down along the river checking over some of the old buildings that are perched on the cliffs there, high above the water. Fall was not far away, and we knew we had to get moving, get out of this dead city. We had half the country to cross and find a place before winter came back around again.
We had left the others in our place off the park – an abandoned factory building I had found after I had lost Donita – and struck out looking for food earlier that morning. With the park and its crowds so near to us, the shops and small stores for blocks around us were stripped clean. Another reason to get out of the city. It was time. I remember thinking that as I walked along.

I was thinking back to March as I walked. Not really paying attention to the walk, where I was going… March… Just a few months ago, but the world was still the world then. And for the next little while there, we didn’t even know about the dead. Dead was still dead. When you closed your eyes for the long eternal sleep you didn’t wake up a short minute later as something else. No. We were ignorant up until they decided to come after us. Ignorant. Stupid. Didn’t know a thing. Didn’t have a clue.
I had been in Central Park a few days after the first earthquakes hit. I had left Donita alone and went down on my own to see what the deal was. I found out nothing. No one knew any more than any one else. There was a lot of speculation, but that was it. There had been earthquakes. It had rained hard for nearly twenty four hours straight. The really freaky stuff hadn’t happened yet. We were just starting down our new path, but what was clear was that thousands of people had died in the city, maybe more than thousands, maybe a million or more. And certainly millions if the damage here was the same across the country… or worldwide.

And my initial estimate turned out to be a kind. In the city alone: collapsed buildings, fires, exposure to the elements because there was no shelter. There were millions of bodies. It was not so bad in those first few days, but a few days later, when the smell of the dead rotting under the rubble began, it was horrible. The diseases started then too. And the diseases took thousands more, and we thought that was the end of it, but it was not. The dead came next. The same dead, newly risen to some other sort of life. But that day in Central Park I did not know about the dead yet. I had no idea what was ahead; what was before me was bad enough…

The Zombie Killers are the men and women who keep the new settlements safe for the other Earth’s Survivors. Those in the Nation and those in the Fold, and the many independent colonies that would not be able to exist without their help and intervention. They are the ones who search out supplies, fight the Zombie Plagues and live in the constant danger of the real world so that the others can live in the safety of their settlements.

In this first book they come into their own as a team and set themselves on the true course that they will follow from then on, with one mission only: To wipe out the Zombie Plagues infesting the world and make it a safe place to live and die once more. Whether through fighting them or finding the reason and the cure for the Zombie Plagues that have infested the world.


Read More: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/earths-survivors-the-zombie-killers-dell-sweet/1123356143