Posted by Geo Dell 04-07-2017
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The Zombie Plagues Book One
Created by Dell Sweet
PUBLISHED BY: Geo Dell and independAntwriters Publishing
The Zombie Plagues Book One
Additional Copyrights 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2017 Wendell Sweet & his assignee Andrea Scroggs All rights reserved
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Bob leaned around the hood and looked through the windshield of the old Suburban. He nodded. “Try it, Tom.”
The motor turned over a half dozen times then suddenly fired and rumbled to life. Tom gave it a little more gas, pulled out the old fashioned choke. The motor smoothed out and began to run a little better.
Bob backed away from the engine compartment, a large smile on his face. “Know what this means?” he asked, raising his voice to be heard above the noisy truck.
Tom grinned and nodded back. “As long as they’re not electronically controlled, they’ll run. We should find a few more.”
Bob nodded in agreement.
They had found the old Suburban in a lot out in back of one of the car dealerships on outer Washington Street. The lot itself was wrecked; the buildings not much better, but hundreds of new cars and trucks sat on the cracked pavement, or pointed their noses or tails at the sky where they were half buried. The Suburban had been set up with a plow, and they all agreed it was probably just used to plow the lot.
Before they had even gone looking for a vehicle, Tom and Bob had gone hunting for a small gasoline powered engine. Lawn mower, leaf blower, it didn’t matter, just something small without an electronic ignition or brain. They’d come up with a heavy duty chain saw. Several tugs and a little choke had gotten it running. That had convinced them that it would be worth finding an older, full size truck.
“We could convert one of these newer trucks. It would take some work but if we can find the right parts we could do it,” Tom said.
“Maybe,” Bob agreed. “Trouble is finding a block that’s still the same. Heads, intake, it’s a lot to hope for. It would be easier to just fix the old stuff up. New tires, battery, we could even do the axles if we absolutely had to.”
Tom nodded his head. “Hmm,” he grumbled. “Guess so.”
Bob turned away. It was obvious to him that Tom didn’t like being disagreed with or second guessed. Yes, parts were parts, and if they were just parts, no problem. There were even kits to convert non-electronic ignition motors over to electronic ignition, but not the other way around. There were motors built mostly for racing applications that were designed to use carburetors and simple distributors. There were things they could do, but it wasn’t simple black and white.
He had been seeing more and more of this close minded attitude from Tom since they had moved into the cave. Tom had lost his place as leader. It didn’t matter that he had been nearly the only one who had seen himself that way. He had seen the situation that way, and now the situation had changed. He didn’t see himself as leader any longer, and he didn’t like it. Oh well, Bob thought. He’d get over it, or he wouldn’t. There was nothing for it except to watch it happen, whatever way it happened.
Tom let the truck idle high for a few minutes then reset the choke dropping the idle down to normal.
“We got wheels,” Lydia said happily. She, Mike, Candace and Jan had come walking back from further down the lot. Pulled by the sound of the truck starting from where they had been searching for other vehicles that would be good candidates for starting.
“We found three others that seem as though they might work out,” Mike said. “One’s an old crew cab state truck the other two are old pickups. All three are four wheel drives.” He grinned at Bob.
Bob laughed. “Well, let’s go get them,” he said. He turned and started away.
“Hey,” Tom said, leaning against the door of the truck, “Wouldn’t you rather drive?”
Bob laughed again. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Much rather.” Everybody piled into the Suburban. Tom pulled out of the back of the lot and headed back in the direction the others had come from.
Man, it’s been a long day. We walked out Washington Street to the car dealerships. Everything’s torn up out there, but there are tons or cars and trucks out there. We found three trucks that we got running, and we drove them back. So we have a pickup truck, a suburban and a big four door state truck, one of those you always used to see along the highway when they were doing road repair. There were a few others we found that also ran, but they were in such bad shape that we left them.
Tom wanted to build one. I mean take one of the new trucks and put old parts on it. I got the idea from Bob that it probably wouldn’t work out the way Tom thought that it would. The right parts would be hard to find. I could see the idea, the appeal of a newer vehicle so we wouldn’t have to be concerned about break downs. But I could see Bob’s point of view too. I think it pissed Tom off though. But it seems that almost everything pisses Tom off.
I didn’t write this in here yet, but Candace and I are together. It just happened that fast. I was surprised in a way, but in another way I wasn’t all that surprised. Who knows how long this world will last, what it was that really happened? Maybe there is no time for slow anymore.
Candace said that, and once I thought about it, I agreed. Things are so different. And she’s right for me. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened this fast in the old world. Maybe it wouldn’t have happened at all. But everything’s changed. It’s all different, and this seems right. It seems like the way it should have happened with her and me, the right way for it all to work.
It also seemed to work out for the others as well. By that I mean Tom ended up with Lydia. She’s a lot younger than he is, but like I said, it’s a different world now. They seem to be happy together. I thought I felt some animosity from both of them at first. But either I imagined it, or they’ve moved past it, gotten over it, something like that.
We haven’t discussed leaving again. It’ll come up. Candace and I want to go. I think Bob and Jan want to go too. Tom and Lydia seem to be against it. Lydia keeps talking about how none of us know what it might be like anywhere else, like she wants to throw that out before we even discuss leaving at all. Here we have food, shelter, what’s so bad? I guess we have been talking about it without really talking about it at all.
Tom backs up everything she says with a nod of his head. He pointed out we’re in an area of mainly limestone, that’s what made this cave, and we may not find that anywhere else. At least not easily. Maybe they’re right. Hell, they make sense, but it’s the attitude. The rest of us bend. They refuse to.
We decided to go out to Arsenal Street tomorrow to the sporting goods store, and also look at some super markets out there, something else I didn’t check out while I was out there.
Lastly, I’m glad Candace and I have each other. It makes all of this easier to deal with.
She asked me why I’m writing this journal. I felt kind of stupid. I told her why I started it though, and that I’m continuing it for someone in the future. Maybe a child? Someone to come later on?
I expected her to laugh that off, or look at me like I was crazy, but she only nodded as if that made perfectly good sense. She told me she has a journal too. A diary, she said. Of course Lydia jumped on that as well. At first arguing against it, then saying she thought it might be okay. Tom said he wouldn’t do it. He said he’s not leaving to go anywhere and if someone shows up here, he’ll be here, not some journal. Okay.
It’s stuff like that that makes me wonder. And, anyway, I only mentioned it; it wasn’t like I wanted anyone else to do it or was trying to encourage someone else to do it. It’s that kind of jump on it attitude I don’t like, like they think I’m looking to screw them over somehow.
But it’s all good. I’m alive. I looked back at some of what I wrote in here. I had no one just a short time ago. I didn’t even know whether there was anyone else. Now I have Candace. We have some plans, things we’ve begun to talk about, agree about. A little ego trouble with Tom is really just bullshit in the scheme of things. I have to try harder to look past that. Maybe I’m too damn sensitive. And anyway things are good. This could be a lot worse.
A thing that bugs me and I can not figure out, where are all the bodies? I mean there don’t seem to be enough bodies to match all of those that were killed. It bothers me. Maybe they weren’t killed? But that makes no sense. Where would they be? I don’t have an answer. I only know it bugs me.
Hi! My name is Lydia. I’ve never written a journal or kept a diary before. We’re all here in this cave. A cave, yes. We’re living in a cave. I can’t believe it! There are no showers, no toilets, no kitchen. Ha! We’re eating out of cans. It’s about as hard as it could be. I don’t know how cave men did it. Or cave women.
We’re all writing these journals to leave them behind in case someone comes after we, or some of us, leave. I might not ‘cause I’m sort of with Tom right now, and he doesn’t want to go. There are six of us; Mike, Tom, Bob, Janet, me and a girl named Candace. We’re all stuck here until spring, I guess.
I guess that you know all about the world ending or whatever it did. We don’t know. I don’t know. Not really anyway, but hopefully we’ll get everything fixed up pretty soon. I mean, a lot of stuff is F’d up, you know? But, like, it could get fixed up eventually.
I had a boyfriend in the old world. His name was Paul, but I don’t know where he went. His apartment was gone. The whole street he lived on was gone. So I don’t know. It made me feel really bad. Hopefully this will be over really soon.
We have, like, some old trucks now to drive around. We used to have to walk everywhere. That sucked. The trucks are really old, like shit boxes as Paul would’ve said, but at least we’re not walking, right? Paul had an old shit box truck too. These trucks are even older. If we break down we can’t call Triple A. Ha, Ha!
There are six of us and Tom thinks more will come to us, probably know we’re here and are just waiting. I guess that’s cool.
I don’t really know what else to write in here. I’ll write other stuff down too though. Oh, I’m almost nineteen…
I did it. I don’t know how I worked it out or where I found the courage to do it, but Mike and I are together. It’s like I wasn’t breathing, like I was waiting to breath. Something like that. All I know with absolute certainty is that tomorrow looks better. Isn’t that all that’s important?
Everyone was up early and ready to go before the sun was barely above the horizon.
“Yesterday,” Tom said to no one in particular. “Thirty two hours long.” Silence greeted his remark. Candace checked her own watch.
“So, like, that means things are slowing down?” Lydia asked.
“You think?” Tom asked unkindly.
“Well, something like that,” Lydia shot back defensively.
“Why would it go backwards,” Bob asked?
“Yeah. Wasn’t it supposed to stop, reverse and then start up again?” Lydia asked.
“Maybe,” Mike agreed. “But that was all based on theory. No facts involved at all. I think they had some evidence that the poles had reversed at a few points in history before. And some legends that spoke about the Earth standing still for a day, something like that. But even so, that’s all theory, not fact.”
“Yeah,” Tom chimed in. “It’s like an asshole. Everyone’s got one.”
“Don’t you mean opinion?” Lydia asked sweetly.
“Whatever. We ready to go, or what?” Tom asked. Everyone followed outside in the uncomfortable silence that fell.
“What’s up with those two,” Candace whispered as she followed Mike outside.
“Who knows,” Mike whispered back. Bob met his eyes and raised his eyebrows. Mike shrugged his shoulders and shook his head as if to say I don’t know.
“We may as well take all three trucks,” Bob suggested. “That way if we find stuff we want it’ll save us driving back to get them.”
“Easier if we get stuck also,” Candace suggested.
Tom shrugged his shoulders. “Fine by me,” he said. He headed for the Suburban with Lydia right behind him. Jan and Candace headed for the pickup truck. Bob broke into a laugh and grinned at Mike. “Guess that leaves me and you in the old dinosaur. Want to drive?”
“After you,” Mike said laughing. Bob started the truck and pulled out last in line and followed the other two trucks as they picked their way along the edge of the ruined road.
“It was me that asked Jan to go with Candace,” Bob said as they followed slowly along behind the other trucks.
Mike nodded. His eyes following the sides of the road as Bob drove along. “I thought it was something like that,” he said. “What’s on your mind, Bob?”
“Well… A lot,” Bob said after a second or two. He hesitated a little longer. “I guess mainly to say Jan and I would like to go with you when you leave, and Candace, I assume.”
“Yeah,” Mike agreed. “I know that probably seemed kind of quick.”
“Quick world,” Mike finished. “Candace said the same thing. I don’t know how much better off we’ll be, but we’d be glad to have you two with us if you want to come.”
“We would. Jan and I talked it over. We talked all night long last night. I got nothing personal against Tom; he did alright by us, but he’s a little too…”
“Demanding? Aggressive?” Mike supplied.
Bob looked thoughtful. “I don’t know… Something like that. I just don’t see him being able to see this through. I feel like if we came back here in ten years we’d find him still holed up in that cave. He’s… I don’t know… too immature to talk to about it. He has only one way of looking at things. That can’t work.”
“You’re probably right. He’d still be here with Lydia, probably with a couple of babies running around. But, maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Maybe that’s a good thing.” He shrugged. “The immaturity… I don’t know… It’s there though. Maybe he’ll move out of that. Maybe it’s just the situation.”
“Maybe,” Bob agreed. “But that’s exactly the time he should be mature, isn’t it?”
Mike nodded. Bob continued.
“So, maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. But not for me. I don’t want to stay here. Nor Jan either. I wouldn’t want to quit this unless I knew this was all there was. I mean, this couldn’t be worldwide, could it?”
“I don’t know,” Mike said softly. “But I agree. I know what you mean. Candace and I talked about it last night too and came to the same opinion. It could be better elsewhere, and whatever is right for Tom or Lydia isn’t necessarily right for us. I was for going from the start. I have to know if this is really the end. If there’s anything else. If it is, I’ll deal with it, find a place to settle down. Thank God I have Candace, you and Jan. Maybe we’ll meet others on the way to… well, wherever.”
“I think so,” Bob said. “There are people, other people around. We just got to find them. Or them us.”
“Yeah, we got to remember rifles or pistols. I hate to say it, Bob, but we may need them.”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “Yeah.”
They continued on in silence as the small caravan made its way past a collapsed building partially blocking what was left of the road.
“I think… It’s not my business,” Bob said, “But I think you made an enemy of Lydia. She was thinking you would be with her.”
“Yeah, I could see that, Bob. I don’t think Tom was any too pleased either.”
Bob nodded. “Nope, none too. Him I wouldn’t worry about though. Her, she’s pretty spiteful. I’ve only known her for a week, but it’s enough. That child did pretty much what she wanted to, I’ll bet. Used to having her own way, getting what she wants when she wants it.”
“Yeah, I can see that. But last night we talked about the journals; I’m keeping one. Candace is too. Lydia said she would. Something to leave when we leave.”
“It’s not a bad idea,” Bob agreed. “I’m not much for writing myself, but Jan might like it.”
Mike nodded. “Well, Lydia liked the idea. She didn’t say she’d go, but she might. So, hate me or not, she might be with us.”
“Oh,” Bob said. “I see that. Maybe she’ll be okay. She’s a kid; maybe she’ll change.”
“Guess we’ll have to see,” Mike agreed. “Guess we’ll have to see.”
Bob worked the truck up and over a huge slab of up-tilted asphalt and followed along behind the other two trucks as they made their way down Arsenal Street.
“What did you think of the idea that Tom had of fixing up one of the new trucks?” Mike ventured after a few minutes.
“Won’t work. Or at least it won’t work without a lot of trouble. The new engines are computer dependent. We could probably find ourselves another motor, maybe even a new crate motor at a parts store somewhere around here,” Bob said.
“What’s a crate motor?” Mike asked.
“It just means a new motor, all crated up when it was sent from the factory. They sell them. Race cars, old rebuilds, like that. But, even if we couldn’t find a crate motor, we could find enough parts to rebuild anything we would need to rebuild on nearly any vehicle. So really, when we’re done, we’d have what amounted to a new vehicle. Tom wants to oversimplify that. He thinks we can just find the parts and swap them out on the motor that’s in the truck. Maybe we can. I’m not that good though, and I don’t think he is. I think we should stick to what we can do for sure, utilize what we have – the new parts.”
“That what you think we should do? Build a vehicle?”
“Yeah. Maybe two. Four wheel drive, of course. Go right through them top to bottom, everything new. It would take a few weeks, but we’ve got that and more. Meantime, you could work on your Ham radio idea, “Bob finished.
“Can you get electric? Those big Ham radio outfits need regular power.”
“Yeah, that’s not a problem. We’ll just find a generator. That will give us all the power we need. We could even hook up a power inverter to give us one twenty in the vehicle,” Bob added.
Mike nodded. “So we’re going to jump right into this thing? Get ready to go?”
Bob nodded. “I’m with you. I’m not spending next winter in a cave unless I have to. There’s a place in Tennessee, maybe Kentucky.” He closed his eyes for a split second as if seeing something only he could see. He shook his head, frowned and then continued. “If not, I’m thinking the coast. Southern or western, either will do, whichever one looks to be the better bet. And who knows how hard it’ll be to get there, so the sooner we’re ready to go, the better.”
“I agree,” Mike said. “I’ll talk to Candace.”
“And I’ll talk to Jan. But we already talked.”
“So did we,” Mike agreed. They both laughed.
Bob angled the big truck around a final piece of asphalt and into a cracked and buckled parking lot. The two other vehicles sat silent, waiting for them.
As they left the truck, Mike noticed that the store hadn’t seemed to incur any more damage since the last time that he had been there. The roof was bowed inward; it had been before, but there were plenty of upright pillars that supported the roof and they all appeared intact. At least the ones he could easily see. The supports were spaced about every sixteen or so feet.
“Safe?” Tom asked.
“Looks the same as it did the last time,” Mike allowed. Candace and Bob looked at him, and he shrugged. “I’d say so. It looks the same as it did the last time I was here. It doesn’t even look as though anyone has been here.”
The scattered, powdered snow seemed undisturbed around the shattered doorway that lead into the building. Mike snapped his flashlight on and led the way inside.
The inside of the store told a different story. Someone had been there during the time Mike had last been there. Several of the glass display cases that held the weapons had been damaged. They were locked, who ever had made the attempt had made it halfheartedly. The glass was safety glass of some sort. It had cracked and spider webbed, but it had not broken and caved in.
“Guess someone tried to get in,” Bob offered.
Tom held up a discarded crow bar. Even in the weak light they could see the streaks of scarlet on one end. Tom let it fall to the floor. The clatter was loud enough to make Lydia draw in a quick breath in the broken silence that followed.
“Jesus, Tom,” She sputtered. Tom only grinned.
“Why does someone go through all of that when they could’ve taken a simple screw driver and just popped the locks?” Candace asked.
“Well,” Tom started.
Candace had walked behind the counter, taken a screw driver from her pocket and began to jimmy the lock mechanism. It was a cheap sliding set and easily bent to one side far enough to slide the glass door open. Candace smiled.
“Learn that up in the big city, Miss?” Mike asked with a smile.
Candace smiled back, reached inside the case, careful of the glass that had sprayed in small slivers from the spider webs in the top, and withdrew pistol after pistol, setting them on a wooden topped case next to the cash register.
“Forty five caliber, Nine millimeter, a cheap one though. Three eighty, kind of nice, though small. Here’s a much nicer Nine Millimeter.” She set several more guns on the wooden top, looked up with a crooked grin and asked, “Well, gentlemen, lady, what’ll it be?”
“You really know about this kind of shit,” Lydia asked in an awed voice.
“Obviously well enough to know what’s what,” Tom said.
“That’s right. Obviously well enough,” Candace agreed. She gave no further explanation.
“What do you think, Candace?” Jan asked.
“Yeah, what would be the best?” Mike asked.
Candace shrugged. “It depends on what you like. I like a three eighty myself. It’s small, not as heavy as a Nine millimeter.” She pulled her own Nine Millimeter. “This was my Dad’s. A good gun, but I liked the Three Eighty I had. A Three Eighty won’t really knock somebody down, not like you see in the movies. But a nine millimeter won’t always do that either. It’ll just make a bigger hole. If you want to knock somebody down, you need this.” She held up the bigger forty five caliber pistol. She held the mostly black pistol easily in one hand. “This will knock somebody down and kill them. And, on the off chance that your aim was bad and you didn’t immediately kill them, believe me, they are not going to feel like getting back up.” She grinned. “It’s still not like the movies. You know, where you see them flying backwards through the air. But, it will knock them down and keep them there.”
“Jesus, Candy, I’m like in awe,” Lydia said.
“Candace,” Candace said, “and thank you.”
“So how do you know all that? Like for real, how do you know all that shit?”
“My dad was a cop, not in Syracuse, before we moved there. He had a thing for guns. I just caught it. When he knew I was going to be like him when it came to guns, he sent me for training, safety stuff mostly, but I liked it so much I started buying my own weapons. I took the test. Eventually I would’ve had my foot in the door in Syracuse. That’s a good department. I would’ve been in already if not for the economy.”
“The thing is, I love to shoot. I’m good too,” she sighed.
“So… what’ll it be?” She let the smile return to her face, reached over and began to jimmy another of the locks on the sliding glass doors.
They spent the good part of two hours in the store. Camping gear, rifles, pistols and ammunition, Mike began to feel like they were equipping their own private army before they were done. Even so, by the time they left, everyone was carrying at least one pistol, and several rifles and boxes of ammunition had found their way into the back of the pickup truck. Candace, Mike noticed, had added a matte black forty five caliber pistol to the Nine Millimeter. She wore them in webbed holsters on a wide leather belt.
“I thought you preferred a Three Eighty,” Mike said half jokingly as he replaced the Nine Millimeter he had decided on into the side holster he had chosen.
“I do,” she said, “For shooting. But like I said, a Three Eighty can’t knock somebody down.” Her eyes met his.
“Yeah… There is that,” Mike agreed quietly.
They spent a short amount of time looking through a small convenience store in the same parking lot. There was very little left. Most likely cleaned out, Bob voiced, by the same folks who had tried to take the guns. This was evidenced by smears of maroon on the counter tops. Even so, they managed to find boxes of stuff in the storage area. They finished filling the backs of the trucks with basic First Aid stuff and several boxes full of candy bars and junk food too.
The sun had been standing overhead for what seemed like hours. Bob spoke.
“Hotter,” He said. “You can feel the heat. And,” He motioned with his hands, “the snow is melting faster as well.”
“Got a theory on that?” Mike asked.
Bob shook his head.
“Maybe the whole process takes time,” Candace said.
“Maybe,” Tom agreed. “Maybe it’s not so easy to start something spinning in the other direction. And we don’t know if it really stopped or not. The sun’s coming up in the north, or it was, but that seems to be changing too. I don’t think it stopped all the way. I think it’s just got a different spin now, and maybe a different path.”
Bob nodded, as did Mike. “I guess we’ll leave it for the scientists… long as we don’t fall off the Earth.” He chuckled a little.
“Call it a day?” Mike asked.
“Yeah,” Tom agreed. “We still have to unload all of this.”
There were a few halfhearted complaints, but everyone piled into the trucks, and they made their way slowly back towards the heart of the city and the cave that lay behind the Public Square.
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