Endtimes

Chapter I.

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The H1N1 Virus (Swine Flu) was said to start off in Mexico in March or April of 2009. Then some high school students from Francis Lewis Prep School in Fresh Meadows, Queens went to Mexico on Spring Break and contracted the virus. From April to May, schools closed down and re-opened a week later and two adults from Queens died. One was an assistant principal of a middle school and the other remained anonymous and authorities stated that she did not work in the school system at all. Then things progressed and the virus mutated into something else…

It was 11 am and Rich was at his desk typing another memo from the Lieutenant to the police officers. Not too long ago, Richard was a cop at another command in Manhattan for three years until he started having domestic incidents at home with his wife Dee, who blamed him for everything from why the house wasn’t clean to the Recession. She forgot that she didn’t work and that Rich supported her and her kids for years. Yet he wasn’t perfect either, Rich also suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his combat tour in Iraq but the Department of Veterans Affairs denied him benefits because they stated that his orders did not contain any unit medals or citations and because Rich wasn’t a Marine or an Infantryman who were in famous battles in Mosul or Fallujah and didn’t get his picture in the paper. He was an MP who performed convoy security and Iraqi drive-bys didn’t constitute combat acoording to the Department of Veterans Affairs. He was also the gunner of a three man team who sat on the turrett with a Mark 19 grenade launcher, M249 machine gun and trusty 9mm handgun. The gunner was the one who saw all the combat, but not according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now Rich had was on modified assignment and his cop days were most likely going to be over soon when the hammer drops from Manhattan.

“Fuck!” Rich said as he misspelled a few words. Fuck seemed to be his catchphrase for everything nowadays. The once clean cut cop now wore his hair in a mohawk and had more tattoos on his arm than ever. The only way that one could tell that he was a veteran was that he didn’t talk about the war and his knapsack had a 101st Airborne insignia sewn on it.

“What’s the matter with you, son?” the Lieutenant asked.

“Oh, sorry sir. Didn’t see you walk in.”

“That’s why I…uh…” the Lieutenant fell on the floor.

“Holy shit! Sir! Sir! El-tee! You okay?” Rich yelled while running towards him. He felt for a pulse and found none. The Lt’s skin was still hot even in death.

“Sarge! Sarge!” Rich ran around to the back desk. He found the Duty Sergeant slumped over at the desk. He didn’t have a pulse or heartbeat and was hot. “Fuck!’

He ran outside of the office. In the command, blue uniforms were dropping or starting to. “What the fuck?!?”

Rich ran outside. Cars were crashing and people were slumped over the wheels of vehicles. There were accidents everywhere. There were people laying all over the street.

“Fuck. Rico!” Rich then ran back to the command and bent over a fallen cop. “Sorry Mike.” Rich said as he unsnapped the cop’s gun from his holster. He also took the two extra ammunition magazines from the cop’s duty belt. He went to another cop and apologized again as he took another gun and ammo and the keys to one of the patrol cars out back.

Rich was driving through a maze of crashed vehicles and ironically put the lights and sirens on out of habit. There would be no one to impede his progress as he made his way home. He was there in ten minutes.

When he got to his apartment, or ex-apartment, since he had to move back with his mother, he instinctively drew the gun and looked around the aprtment. “Anyone here?” He looked around the corner. No Dee, no Dee’s other two older kids. He then went into the bedroom and saw his 11-year-old son watching an Elmo DVD.

“Rico!”

“Hi Daddy!” Rico smiled broadly and ran to Rich kissing him on the nose. Rico looked exactly like Rich with a matching mohawk haircut, but smaller and more handsome. In fact, it was Dee’s idea to give Rico a mohawk haircut back when he was only 15 months old. When Rico was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (Under the Autism Spectrum), Rich cut his hair into a mohawk in solidarity with Rico.

Rich cried as he hugged Rico. “Uh fuck.” Rich wiped his eyes. ” I told you that you’re too old to watch Elmo. Where’s Mommy?”

“Throwing out the garbage. You curse too much Daddy.”

“Rico, listen to me. We’ve got to get the fuck out of here. Sorry. We really need to leave, son.”

“Okay Daddy.”

Rico only started to speak fully a year and a half ago and it was the happiest day of Rich’s life.

“Stay behind me, Rico.” Rich pointed the gun in front of him as Rico crept slowly behind him. He decided that if Dee were to show up he’d shove Rico in the other room and shoot Dee on sight and shove her body in another room.

“Daddy, where’s Mommy?”

“I’m looking for her right now, baby.”

They made their way down the stairs and into the street. Rich opened up the door of the patrol car and pointed toward the passenger side door. “Get in on that side, baby.”

“Cool! A police car!”

“Yeah, Daddy was cool once. I’ll put the lights and sirens on if you want.”

“Cool!”

“Listen. We’re going on a special trip, you and me.”

“Cool! Where’s Isabella and Danny?”

“They’re going to meet us over there.” I said about Dee’s kids.

“How about Mommy?”

“Mommy too, baby. Hold on!” Rich was driving fast along Main Street, avoiding the dead bodies and vehicle accidents. He felt scared, yet good at the same time. It was good to be with his son again and even better not to see Dee again. Now they were getting away for good.

“Where we going Daddy?”

“To Grandma’s.”

Rich stopped in front of his mother’s house. “Stay here Rico. Daddy will be right back.”

Rich drew his gun and walked into the house slowly, doing a room-to-room sweep. No one was home either. He then went on his brother-in-law Craig’s laptop and found Chloe online at the OG site.

“What the fuck is going on?” Chloe typed, on the public forum.

“Fuck if I know. Is Kayla okay?” Rich typed back.

“I’m still waiting for her to come back from work.”

“Do yourself a favor when she gets back. Gather up some guns out there. You never know.”

“Food and water would be nice too. And stuff.”

Rich couldn’t help but laugh. “Fuckin’ wise -ass.” He was happy that someone else he loves was alive.

“Okay, just keep yourself alive. Me and Rico are coming to meet you.”

“Are you serious?”

“Hella serious. We’re going to settle somewhere in the Midwest. Kayla and I used to talk about it back in the day.”

“Lol, you guys are hella wack.”

“I’ll get back on later. Something tells me we need to get the fuck out of here right now.”

“I’ll log back at around 4:30 your time. 10-4 Chloe out.”

“Okay. We’ll talk about details later. Rich out.” Rich then looked on the side of the laptop and saw that it had a card inserted. Good, that WiFi shit sucks and I don’t need that bootleg shit right now, he thought.

Outside, Rico was playing with the lights and sirens. “My mind is shot if it’s the end of the world and I’m happy about it.” Rich thought.

Rich looked across the street and saw an American flag displayed on the lawn. He then ripped the flag from the grass and put it in the trunk of the patrol car. He had every intention of burning it when Rico was sleeping.

 

Chapter II

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Paramus, New Jersey:

Rich pulled the car into a gas station.  The station had two cars with dead drivers at the wheel. “Rico, stay right here. I need to get gas and I’ll grab us some food.”

“Cookies too, daddy?”

“Cookies too. Stay here.”

Rich walked out of the squad car with his gun drawn. He walked inside the store and took several plastic bags. He pulled the lever by the cash register to activate the gas pumps. He filled one of the bags with cigarettes. Then he jumped over and filled up another bag with just chocolate chip cookies. He filled up the remainder of the bags with some bananas, cold cuts, bread, cheese, beer and soda. I could always go ‘shopping’ again tomorrow.

As he stepped out, he saw a teenaged girl with long dark brown hair, a nose ring and all black clothing standing next to the patrol car talking with Rico. “Hello! Are you alone?”

The girl looked up and waved at Rich. “I’m so happy to see you guys!”

“Are you hungry? My house is your house.” Rich said as he pointed at the gas station.

The girl smiled. ” No thanks. I ate in there already. My name’s Lacey.”

“I’m Rich and that’s my son, Rico.”

“Where are you guys headed?”

“Utah or Texas. If not, California.”

“What’s over there?”

“Family. Do you want to come?”

“Hell yeah.”

Lacey got in the backseat. “I’ll take your bags.”

“Thanks,” said Rich as he handed them to her. “Just help yourself if you get hungry.”

Rich lit a cigarette and thought about their next move. “We should go get some clothes too.” He looked in the car as Lacy was handing Rico cookies.

“There’s a mall down the road.”

“Okay.” Rich flicked his cigarette and started pumping gas. For once, I’ll put in the good shit, he thought. The display read that Supreme gasoline $3.50 a gallon. Rich began to laugh hysterically. He finished filling up the squad car at $73.

“Rich, what do you think happened?” Lacey asked as Rico and her ate cookies. Lacey was also drinking a beer.

“How old are you?” Rich asked.

“Nineteen.” Lacey laughed. “Is it because of the beer? I’ll buy you more.”

Rich smiled. “Cookies and beer are hella gross and stuff. Or something.”

Lacey was laughing. “You really don’t sound like you know what you’re talking about when you say ‘And stuff or something. How old are you?”

“Thirty-eight.” Rich said.

“Ouch! You were born in the 70’s!”

“Brad Pitt is older than me. So is George Clooney and stuff.”

“Okay, okay. How old are you?” Lacey asked Rico.

Rico just smiled and ate cookies.

“He’s preoccupied. He’ll talk your ears off when he’s not eating.” Rich said.

“You guys are cool in your mohawks.”

“Not bad for an old guy, huh?”

“Not bad.” Lacey smiled.

“Oh back to your original question. I’m far from a scientist but it looks like the Swine Flu killed almost everybody.”

“You don’t seem too concerned.”

“Listen, as long as I’m with my boy and my ex-wife isn’t around, everything’s cool. The world could end, I don’t give a fuck.”

“I hear you.” Lacey said. “Know what? I got out of high school two years ago, my parents didn’t have the money to send me to college and I found myself being at ‘Hot Topic’ long enough to be assistant manager. It’s pathetic.”

“What’s pathetic about it is if you lived as you thought other people say that you should. You would’ve found what you wanted eventually as long as you don’t get too complacent. But if you’re actually happy working at ‘Hot Topic,’  fuck what everybody else thinks. At least you’re around cool clothes and accessories all day and if your store has cd’s, even better.”

Lacey scratched her chin as if in deep thought. “You know, it isn’t so bad. The boss likes me and I have a good time with my co-workers and customers. We even have a regular spot to hang out after work.”

Rich pulled into the mall. “And if I knew you before, I would’ve told you not to get married either.”

“Everything outside of marriage just sounds good to you. What did you do for a living before stealing police cars?”

“I was a cop.”

Lacey laughed. “Holy shit! With that haircut?”

“Shit, this is nothing. There’s male cops out there who have their hair braided.”

Rich pulled into the mall parking lot. “We shouldn’t really split up. Let’s stay together and just shop. We should get clothes that we really need because we don’t really have a big car to put shit in.”

They entered the mall and navigated their way around corpses. Luckily it was a weekday and there weren’t too many people in the mall. 

As they exited the mall and into the parking lot they saw a swarm of about 50 people about three hundred feet away running toward the car.

“Get in the car! Get in the car!” Rich yelled to Lacey and Rico as they watched the swarm get ever closer. 

“Why? There’s people!” Lacey said.

“Fuck that shit. I don’t like the looks of it. Get the fuck in!”

Lacey and Rico got in and Rich started the car. He locked the doors.

“Hey!” Lacey said.

Rich tried to drive away from the crowd, who were picking up objects to throw at the car. Shopping carts, bricks and pieces of wood were flung as Rich tried to drive away. People tried to converge on the car and Rich hit whoever impeded his progress.

A brick hit the rear window, making a spider web, but not shattering it. Rico and Lacey screamed.

Rich hit the gas and hit more people. He finally made it to the exit and sped off while a few people were still running after the car.

“Can’t trust anybody Lacey! I’ve been in shit before. If I tell you to do something, just fuckin’ do it! Do you understand me!”

Lacey began to cry. “I…I didn’t mean anything by it.”

“Look, I’m not trying to be a dictator. I just want us to be okay, okay? I didn’t mean to flip out, but getting shit thrown at us scared the shit out of me.”

“It’s cool. Where to now, Rich?”

“Funny thing that you asked. We’re going to Ft Dix for equipment. The next gang of lunatics we run into next time might have guns.”

“How come you know what the fuck you’re doing?”

“I don’t. All this shit is purely reactionary.”

 

 

Chapter III.

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Orange County, California:

Chloe and Kayla were in the kitchen of “Fleming’s Steakhouse” in Orange County preparing what they called “Millionaire’s Meals.” A half hour earlier, they dragged the dead staff and customers into the back alley because “Dead people totally obscure the ambience and stuff. Or something.”

It didn’t take long for them to make their specialized meals because the kitchen was fully equipped. Kayla had prepared the ‘Main Filet Mignon’ while Chloe prepared ‘Tuscan Veal Chops.’ Their sides consisted of ‘Fleming’s Potatoes’ (with cream, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese) and Creme Brulee’s for dessert. When the meals were ready, the two peeled off their chefs’ uniforms and hats, revealing tight Prada dresses with matching heels. They giggled as they walked to the main dining room wheeling their meals.

“Why can’t we just stay here in the OC?” Chloe asked Kayla. “Rich’ll like it over here. Sunny and stuff.”

“Yeah, this is stuff we were talking about before, remember I told you?”

Um, he’s totally weird. He wanted to start a motorcycle gang and wear a hockey mask and call himself ‘Lord Humongous?'”

“He got that from ‘Mad Max.’ He was just fucking around. It’s a symbolic thing. We’re from Cali, he’s a New Yorker, we meet in the middle. We were saying Texas or maybe Utah. We could be Dark Mormons.”

Chloe nearly choked on her potatoes. “Holy shit! You guys are hella funny.”

“Anyway, this is so cool! Any word from Rich?”

“Yeah, he was in Jersey somewhere and he picked up some teenage girl. They ran into some crazy people and now they’re going to Ft Dix for equipment. I love him and everything, but he’s weird.” Chloe laughed.

“352 has many faces. Not everyone can be as sleek, smart, stylish and sexy as us. He’s the warmonger, the killer. It’s a perfect balance. The sum of the whole is greater than its parts.”

“Okay. Let’s not talk semantics anymore. The “Armageddon” is upon us and we’re talking that same internet stuff. Let’s enjoy what we could.”

They ate in silence admiring their food and each other. When they finished their meal Kayla lit a cigarette. “This is great! Free cigarettes and gas everywhere!”

“What are you going to do when you and Rich smoke everything up?”

“There’ll be free nicotine patches everywhere.”

They laughed and then all of a sudden, a man in a black hooded sweatshirt entered the restaurant. They reached into their matching Marc Jacobs purses. They both pulled out .22’s almost simultaneuosly.

The man saw them, smiled and began to approach. “Come here. I don’t want any trouble. It looks like you girls need some company.”

Kayla got up from the table and approached the hooded man. She then shot him squarely in the chest. He was still squirming on the ground panting.

“Fuck…fuck…” the man almost whispered.

“Fuck! Let’s get the fuck out of here, Chloe! I never shot anybody before!”

“Right behind you!’

They walked fast in their Prada heels out into the street, apprehensively looking around first. When they saw that it was all clear, they rushed into a black Porshe. They sped off.

“Where the fuck are we going to now?” Chloe asked.

“Highway 15, baby! First we need to get some snacks from the liquor store. I didn’t fuckin’ finish my Romanee Conti in there!”

So you’ll settle for an Olde English 800?” Chloe laughed.

“And Slim Jims.”

As they drove, dark figures on the streets tried to approach the car but Kayla kept speeding through, almost hitting those who approached too close.

“Kayla, we might need somebody. Why are you just ignoring everybody?”

“Fuck that, don’t trust anyone! Let them steal their own stuff and don’t fuck with us.”

“Yeah, good point. You know what? We need to get the fuck out of these populated areas. Can you imagine how the city’s going to smell like a week from now when all the bodies get rotten?”

“Yeah. Then there’s going to be no electricity, food and water in about a month, maybe. Then we’ll be eating what we hunt or fish.”

“Then we’d better live it up now. Fuck the snacks in the liquor store. I want Eggs Benedict for breakfast.”

“Hell yeah.” Kayla replied. “After that, the shit’s going to get crazy. It’s going to be back to nature like we’ve always talked about.”

Chapter IV.

FTDFort Dix, New Jersey:

The Main Gate of Fort Dix was littered with vehicles and corpses and entrance to the Army Installation was blocked off. Rich stopped the car and turned to Lacey and Rico and said, “We have to dump the car here and grab one of those cars in the front to get on base.”

“Dump the police car, Daddy? Come on! Nooo!” begged Rico. Being on the Autism Spectrum made Rico have a hard time adjusting to transitioning or simple change without prompting.

“We’ll get a better one, baby. We’ll get a Humvee! We’ll put the big gun on top and everything. What’ya say?” Rich said as he and Lacey were already getting out of the patrol car.

Rico said nothing and Rich gently took his hand and Rico began to walk out of the car. Rich let go and grabbed the leftover groceries and spare .9mm in the glove compartment.

Lacey spotted a small blue Honda Accord by the guard booth and told Rico to wait at the rear trunk. She then  ran over to the drivers side and dragged the deceased driver out. The keys were still in the ignition and she gestured for Rico to get in the back seat. Rich started running toward the Honda.

“I’ll drive us in. It’s been about six years but I remember most of this shithole.”

“You were in the military too? You look like you still go to raves!” marveled Lacey.

“Clean living.” Rich said as he pulled out a Marlboro Red out of his pocket while loading the groceries and clothing in the trunk. “Anybody want to eat something before I throw this back here?”

Rico looked out of the window and smiled. “Cookies?”

Rich knew that it wasn’t good to keep feeding him, but he was a sucker for Rico’s smile and big brown eyes.

“A few and that’s it, okay?”

“Okay, Daddy.”

Rich pulled six out of the box and offered Lacey some.

“No dude. I’m sick of gas station stuff.”

“If we get a chance later, we’ll stop by a restaurant and I’ll cook something.” Rich smiled. “I would cook something in the mess hall over here but there’s nothing that I can do to save this food.”

“Cool!” said Lacey. Rich was reminded just now about how young Lacey still was.

“Yeah, Daddy! Hamburgers and hot dogs!”

“Grilled chicken, Rico. Maybe some steak, okay?” I know that everybody’s dead, but that doesn’t mean we should kill ourselves eating junk, Rich thought.

Rich started the car and drove at a medium speed through the post. He was still tryng to remember which turns to take and which not too. He remembered that deploying units’ armories were right across from the lake. He reminisced about attending the Military Police Academy here. He also remembered how his unit trained here in the dead of winter from January 2003 to March 2003 and then went straight to the deserts of Kuwait and then north to Iraq and how little sense it made. He found the lake and parked at the loading area of the armory.

“Rico, stay in the car. Lacey, I’m going to run out with stuff we need and you throw it in the trunk. The trunk is empty so it looks like everything will fit. You ready?”

A glimmer of excitement and some fear were evident on Lacey’s face. “Let’s do it so we can eat.” she smiled.

 Rich stepped over the dead armorer laying by the door and grabbed the keys from his belt. He turned to Lacey. “It’s going to be loud, so be ready.”

Lacey nodded her head and Rich opened the vault and ran inside, the alarm blaring loud enough but not enough to wake the dead.  Rich ran out seven seconds later with the heaviest item first, a Mark 19 Grenade Launcher which was about 3 feet long and weighed 75 pounds. Lacey struggled with this and started to drag the massive weapon. “No, no! I’ll help you. Please don’t drag that!” Rich shouted over the alarm. He helped her dump the M19 into the open trunk. He then ran and got the metal mounting pieces, and then 3 boxes of 100 of the missile-shaped grenades. Then he grabbed the M249 Machine Gun, better known as the SAW (Squad Assisted Weapon) and 5 boxes of 200 rounds each.  “All done.” Rich said. Then he thought about it and said, “One more thing!” and ran back inside the armory.

Six seconds later, Rich ran out with two leather shoulder holsters, one leather thigh holster and another .9mm Beretta pistol. “Let’s strap on.” The alarm seemed to be growing louder. “On second thought, let’s get the fuck out of here.”

“We’re all done?” Lacey asked excitedly.

“We’ll get a Humvee. With a fuckin’ turret, this is all business.”

“What the hell is a turret?” As in a machine gun turret?”

“Even better.” Rich backed the Honda out of the loading area. “We’re going to launch grenades from the shit with the big boy that I had to help you with and I’ll keep the machine gun strapped down for extra firepower.” Rich said with a gleam in his eyes.

“You seem to be having a good time.” Lacey looked at him curiously.

Rich thought for a moment. “This is the best! I know that it might sound borderline psychotic, but it’s the fuckin’ best!”

“Daddy was in Iraq!” Rico said.

Rich smiled and was proud that his son was proud. At least somebody in the family was.

“No shit? When?”

“In the beginning. March 19, 2003. The war was forty-five minutes old when I landed in Kuwait. Sadaam Hussein was sending Scud missiles when my unit landed.”

“What was your job there?”

“I was an MP. Securing convoys, setting up relay points, shit like that.”

“Wow, looking at you, I’d never know.”

Inside, Lacey thought that this man was insane. He seemed methodical and cunning and maniacal all at the same time. Yet there was something dark, mysterious and even sexy about him. He was of medium build with the mohawk haircut, an exotic Asian look with dark skin and dark brown piercing eyes. She was secretly getting attracted to him even though she was half his age.

They pulled into the motorpool when Rich said, “There!” He pointed at a tan colored Humvee. He parked the Honda right next to it.

“Let’s gear up!” Rich said.

“What?” Lacey asked.

Rich took out the two shoulder holsters and put them on Lacey and Rico. Then he took the two .9mm handguns and put them in the holsters.

“Wait! Rich, no! I could understand putting a gun on me, but making Rico hold one? Are you fuckin’ crazy?”

“According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, no. I’ll be damned if we get separated and my boy can’t protect himself. He needs to learn and now is as good a time as any.”

“Whatever, Rich.”

“I do what I do to save our asses. Do you know what the fuck is out there? I sure as hell don’t! At least we’ll be better equipped to handle shit!”

“We don’t know what the fuck we’re doing with these guns!”

“Neither did I back in the day. I’ll teach you, but with less pressure. What’ya say?” Rich smiled.

The smile made Lacey almost melt. It was the smile that probably led many to their deaths.

“Okay, okay. I totally have to see how you set that turret up.”

Five minutes later, Rich set up the mounting device, and the M19 and bungee chorded the machine gun to the base of the M19. He was loading up the rounds now which was the easiest and most fun part. Lacey could have sworn that she saw Rich smiling.

Rico began to flap with his hands. Poor baby, Rich thought. He doesn’t know what to do with himself. Rich dismounted the Humvee and said to Rico, “Books, Rico? I’ll get you a TV too?”

Rico smiled and almost repeated what Rich told him until he saw Rich frowning. “Okay, Daddy.” Rich squeezed Rico’s shoulder. 

Without looking at Lacey Rich said, “My son has autism and might need a little prompting now and then. But my boy does okay.”

“I understand Rich.” Lacey looked at father and son and felt sad because of Rico’s seeming distance.

“Let’s do some more shopping guys!” Rich said excitedly. “We’ll get some entertainment items and stuff. Cd’s, dvd’s, how many beers we got left, lush?”

Lacey smiled sheepishly. “We got two beers left.”

“How the fuck do you drink that and not get a buzz?”

“I’m buzzed but I’m amped too. Where are we shopping?”

“The Post Exchange and then to Class Six for alcohol. There’s a few fast food stands inside the PX for dinner. Then we can stay at the housing they have on-post. Fuck the barracks!”

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about, but let’s go!”

 

Chapter V.

800px-KelsoSandMojave Desert:

“What the fuck time is it?” Kayla asked.

“It’s 1:30. Nothing but fuckin’ sand.”

“What a shit state. After the gambling gets old, what do you have?”

“Well, nobody has anything now. What the fuck was the deal back home last night with those people in the streets?”

“Fuck ’em. They need to get their own shit like we did and what Rich did. Fuck, he even picked up a girl.”

“Nineteen. Frank would’ve been proud.” Chloe snickered.

“Nah, too old for him.” Kayla added.

“Hopefully him and Seti’s okay and we’re the only idiots on the internet.”

At that moment, Kayla glanced at her rearview mirror and saw 4 maybe 5 motorcycles. “We got fuckin’ company. Get the heat ready.”

Chloe laughed nervously. “See if one of them’s wearing a hockey mask. Maybe it’s Rich.”

“Fuck, they’re catching up. Time to haul ass.”

Chloe clutched her .22 in both hands. A biker pulled up fast next to her window. He wore all black leather with a black helmet and dark sunglasses.  She could see that he was flickering his tongue at her. She quickly opened her widow and pointed the gun at him. He smiled and dropped back quickly.

Another biker with the same apparel pulled up on Kayla’s side. This one looked to be female judging from the smaller frame and red lipstick. She made a gesture with her right thumb and forefinger and acted like she was pointing a gun at Kayla. “How about the real thing, bitch?” Kayla pointed her .22 out the window also.

The female rider laughed and dropped back.

“That sucks. We’ve got guns and these assholes are still not convinced. I can’t get a good shot at anyone to persuade them that we’re not fuckin’ playing.” Chloe said.

“We’re just going to have to keep going. Good thing we filled up only a few miles back.”

“Oh shit! Go! Go!”

All five bikers rode ahead and were criss-crossing in front of them. One even gave the signal for them to pull over.

“Let’s pull over and start shooting.” Chloe said.

“No. That’s where we’re the most vulnerable. Let’s keep going. They can’t keep playing for too long on those bikes. Some are bound to kill themselves on the bikes trying to do something stupid, some will get too complacent and one of us or both will get a good shot.”

“Okay. Wish we learned how to shoot at some point in our lives.”

“That doesn’t matter. They’re playing us pretty close. We might not have to.”

True enough, one of the bikers rode too close on Chloe’s side and Kayla swerved right at him. The biker swerved out of control and crashed into a cactus.

“Yeah! Oh shit. The rest are pretty pissed!”

“Good!” Kayla said. She saw the bikers drop back again, but they kept following. Kayla rolled down the window and stuck out her middle finger.

“No! Don’t do that! They’re gunna get pissed and stuff!”

“Fuck ’em. Even if the genius didn’t eat a cactus taco, I think that their intentions with us are less than honorable at this point.”

“The girl, too?” Chloe’s imagination was getting the best of her at this point.

“Excuse me?”

“352!” Chloe said. “352, bitches!”

“This is motherfuckin’ serious shit, babe! I’m getting hot!”

Chloe looked at Kayla. “We probably should’ve gotten more guns like Rich said.

Kayla laughed as she thought of Rich. “He probably shot up all of New York on the way out. Oh shit, they’re gone!”

“Yeah, fuckin’ pussies!”

“Hopefully, that’s the end. Oh fuck!”

Kayla saw a black spots in the cloud of sand behind her. She three-sixty-ed the Porshe and headed directly toward the bikers.

“Who’s chicken, bitches?!?” Kayla yelled.

 

Chapter VI.

tetrahedronRico was fast asleep in his room after swimming in the outdoor pool, then eating steak that Lacey insisted on cooking and then watching a new movie acquired from the Post Exchange. The door to his room was open and Lacey and Rich were sitting outside drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.  The guest facility was actually a motel on post surronded by trees. The fully armed and armored Humvee was parked fifteen feet away. Lacey and Rich were still wearing their guns.

“Yeah, so my parents’ house was paid for but my dad’s social security disability was enough to just get by. My salary was a little extra to the house and maybe to party on occasion.”

Rich rubbed his chin. “So what kind of music do you like?”

“I love metal, punk and some 80’s New Wave. My first love is Black Metal.”

Rich lit up. “Dimmu Borgir? Funeral Mourning? A little Cradle of Filth, but not too much?”

Lacey giggled. “No way! You listen to the same exact shit that I do!”

“Too bad they didn’t have any at the PX. I did bag some Metallica and Korn. Out of curiousity, what are your philisophical or religious beliefs?”

“I’m a Satanist! Bow down for I am the highest embodiment of human life!” Lacey giggled.

Rich smiled again. “What do you know about the Order of Nine Angles?”

Lacey mockingly shuddered then said, “O9A? From what I’ve read, they’re geniuses and madmen. They make even other Satanists shit in their pants.”

“Hmmm.” Rich leafed through yesterday’s newspaper. “Perfect, tonight’s the New Moon. I’ve tried individual rites before, do you want to do the Rite of Returning?”

Lacey drunkenly smiled. “I know what that is. Are you making a pass at me?  You could’ve just been smooth and I would’ve thought about it really hard. Okay, one more beer and let’s go.”

Rich smiled. “Just one thing from the Hummer and we’re all set.”

Rich walked to the Hummer, searched and was carrying a medium sized burlap bag. He then closed Rico’s door. “The top of that hill looks good.”

Lacey grabbed Rich and threw her arms around him. She whispered in his ear, “You’re a fuckin’ lunatic but I want you so bad…” She was flicking her tongue on his ear and lips. He kissed her back and had trouble walking from being aroused.

They walked about fifty feet up a slightly inclined hill. They walked fast and were already taking their clothes off on the way and groping each other.

They were naked as reached the hilltop. Rich unwrapped the burlap and gave it to Lacey. “Hold your hands out, palms up.”  He placed the large  crystal tetrahedronin her hands.  Rich chanted “Nythra Kthunao”  seven consecutive times as Lacey swayed back and forth from inebriation and anticipation. “Chant with me the best you can and as loud as you can.”  Rich said as he placed his hand over the crystal. “Binan ath ga wath am.”

Rich laid Lacey on her back while she still held the crystal, ensuring that her head faced north. Rich then put his head between Lacey’s legs. The smell of her vagina was intoxicating and he worked his tongue in a clockwise motion, and then flickering it. She was aroused and he whispered in her ear, ” Visualize the Star Gate opening and Atazoth, dark nebulous chaos. Atazoth is changing into a dragon, Atazoth is coming forth from the Acausal dimensions, through the Star Gate toward the Earh…” He was entering and exiting Lacey at a dizzying rate as she screamed in ecstasy. After fifteen minutes of sexual union, they reach climax. Rich instructs Lacey of the next step.

Lacey buries the crystal and says, “Aperiartur terra et germinet – CHAOS”  

They both walked down the hill back towards the guest housing. Rich checked on Rico and then went with Lacey to the room next door.

 

Chapter VII.

MV5BMTMzMzYzOTA2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzQyMjQ1Mg@@._V1._CR0,0,500,500_SS90_As Kayla sped closer, she could see that there were about ten bikers now.

“Waste those motherfuckers, Kayla! Step on it!” Chloe shouted.

The bikers parted like the Red Sea but Kayla managed to sideswipe one of the unlucky bikes on her right side. The small impact was enough to throw the biker off. Kayla laughed and turned the Porsche around sharply again.

“This time, we’re going to keep going. The sun’s going down in about another hour and I don’t want to keep playing with these guys.”

The bikers also turned around and followed. Kayla broke hard and the bike directly behind her didn’t have time to react and hit the rear, also getting dismounted and landing in front of the Porshe. Kayla slammed on the gas and ran the biker over, even though he was most likely already dead.

Kayla laughed and then stopped the car again, shifting it into reverse. The bikers also stopped but by the time they turned their bikes around, Kayla was swerving forward, mowing down two bikers. She sped off again.

By this time, Chloe was laughing, almost maniacally.

“How many left?”

“Five. Fuck, that’s how many we started out with. Got any more tricks?”

“No, I’m all out. Let’s just play along and see what happens.” Kayla said.

The five kept up for about ten more miles, but never wanting to get in front of the Porshe. Then the sun went down and the bikes stopped pursuing. Kayla lit a cigarette.

“You fuckin’ kicked ass back there.” Chloe said.

“Those fuckers would’ve kept on until they got us. Damn, we should change this car for an SUV or something. We’re lucky we didn’t roll this baby over. That would’ve sucked big-time for us.”

“Yeah, we would’ve been better off dead. Hmmm, I think I’ll see what Rich is doing.”

“Probably drinking beer and celebrating his divorce.”

“I got nothing.” Chloe said.

“It means that he’s having a good time like we were.”

“That was a good time?”

“Well, we’re still here aren’t we? That’s having a great time in my book. A couple of more miles and we’ll trade this car in, fill up and find a place to sleep.”

“Yeah, sounds good. Maybe get more guns too.” Chloe said.

“Yeah, if those guys were armed, we would’ve been so fucked.”

“Hopefully we can re-arm before something else happens. Hey! It’s fuckin’ Rich! He said that he’s gonna score a generator in the morning. Yup, he was drinking. Oh, man! He’s got a Humvee and everyone there is armed! He’s a fuckin’ lunatic!” Chloe was laughing hysterically. “He even did the Rite of Returning with that girl Lacey!”

Kayla laughed and then turned to Chloe. “Can you fuckin’ believe it? We were talking shit on the ‘net and now we’re meeting in Texas like a bunch of crazy people!”

“What the fuck is that?!?” Chloe looked ahead on the road.

Figures were running at them in the Darkness.

 

Chapter VIII.

k1667439

Rich, Lacey and Rico went back to the motorpool after a 4 hour stay at the guest quarters.  After Rich and Lacey convened for a short while after the Rite of Returning, ich felt that they could not leave the weapons unsecured and could settle for longer periods of time in more rural settings. They decided to grab a generator that was hopefully on a trailer already and extra containers of gasoline in anticipation of power outages since there was no one left manning power plants.  Fortunately, they found a mobile generator and while Rich was pouring fuel into containers at the motor pool, a message was heard on the Humvee radio.

“Attention, attention! If you are out there and you need shelter, protection, clothing or food, please acknowledge this message. I repeat, if you are out there and you need shelter, protection, clothing or food, please acknowledge this message.”

“Holy shit! There’s another survivor out there!  Rich, what do you think?” Lacey said.

“Let’s see what the deal is.” Rich said, almost sounding disappointed. Rich pressed on the handset. “Sinister Way here, over.”

“Sinistar666, this American Eagle! My location is in the Arms Room by the main gym, Ft. Dix, New Jersey. Over.”

Lacey and Rich looked at each other. “Um, I don’t know if we should even go over there. We’ve got stolen military equipment and weapons. Fuck that, let’s get the fuck out here, Lacey.” Rich said.

“Are you there, Sinister Way?” the radio blared.

“Find out if he’s alone. If he is, we might be okay.” Lacey said.

Rich smiled at her. “Good idea. What have we got to lose?” Rich depressed the side button on the handset. “I’m still here, American Eagle. Are you alone? Over.”

“That’s affirmative, Sinister Way. I’ve got plenty of supplies so get your ass over here. Over.”

Being a military veteran, Rich didn’t like the sound he heard from the radio. It sounded to much like some high ranking tight ass. “We’ve got supplies ourselves, American Eagle. We just want some company. Over.”

“That sounds like a plan Sinister Way! What’s your location at this time? Over.”

“I can be at your location in ten mikes. [minutes] Over.” Rich answered.

“I’ll be expecting you, Sinister Way. Over.”

“Roger that, over.” Rich said.

“Let’s go over there and if he tries anything crazy, we’ll just shoot him.” Rich said,

Lacey smiled. She was getting excited again.

Ten minutes later, Rich kicked on the door of the arms room. Lacey, after a thirty second sat on the turret of the Humvee ready to fire upon the arms room in the event of anything going awry.

Rich could hear the sound of six latches unlocking. Rich smirked and thought of seeing some of his friends who lived in high-crime areas.

When the last latch was unlocked, a  dark haired man in a non-issue leather trenchcoat and black officers’ cap stepped out. He looked at Rich, who was pointing his pistol at him and then at Lacey, who was pointing the machine gun at him from the Humvee turret. He raised his hands and said, “You can search me. I’m unarmed at this time.”

“Why would you do that?” Rich said, but not lowering his weapon.

“I am Major Strigoi, United States Army. I’m a medic trying to do research M1N1. Please come in.”

 

Chapter IX.

zombie_picture_blurThey were everywhere. Deformed figures were trying to climb the car, banging on the windows and trying to open the doors. Kayla was trying to mow them down, but they surrounded the Porshe and and were slowing the car down. Chloe pointed her pistol at one pressed up on the window on her side.

“No, if you shatter the window, they’ll climb in!” Kayla said as she grabbed Chloe’s arm.

“What the fuck are we supposed to do?” screamed Chloe.

“Just keep fuckin’ going!”

Kayla drove the car skillfully around the mutants and ran over a few of them who got in her way. She sped off when she saw a clearing. There was a dragging sound coming from the under carriage of the Porshe but it soon stopped. Chloe looked back and saw a woman rolling away.

“What the fuck is up? Fuckin’ bikers, now fuckin’ humanoids while Rich drinks beer and gets laid. And the Porshe is getting fucked up!”

“I hope that these freaks aren’t all over the fuckin’ place. It’ll be just like the internet.” Kayla laughed.

“This whole shit’s crazy. You’re fuckin’ crazy! Dude, it’s fuckin’ four o’clock in the morning and we still didn’t sleep. Let’s haul ass and put some distance between us and those things and find a Motel 6 or something.”

“Motel 6? Everybody’s gone and we could stay anywhere we want. We have to find more guns too.” Kayla suggested.

“After those bikers and freaks, I definitely agree.”

Keep your eyes peeled for State Police or any military vehicles. We need new wheels and guns.”

Chloe looked out into the darkness. She remembered the Nietzsche quote that said ‘when you look into the abyss, the abyss looks into you’ and shuddered. She spotted a gas station. “Let’s rack up on sme food.”

“Yup, need cigarettes too.”

They pulled into the dark, small gas station and exited the Porshe with their .22’s drawn. In that instance, Kayla felt an urge to shoot her weapon again. The first time she ever fires a gun in her life and she kills some pervert. The gun gave her a feeling of empowerment, typical in most people. She started to put gas in the Porshe.

Chloe felt more reserved and missed Orange County. Yet, she was still being realistic that there was no more home to go home to. After Kayla finished putting gas she said, “Fuck. It’s dark in there and I have a bad feeling.” Chloe pointed to the store.

“Then, let’s get the fuck out of here.” Kayla said. “We don’t need to meet up with more freaks while we get Snickers bars.”

They both walked quickly to the Porshe. As they pulled out of the gas station, the side door of  the bathroom opened and someone walked out. Kayla could only see that he was wearing a red and black plaid shirt and was walking normally and was looking right at them. “Looks like you were right. Check it out.” Kayla said.

As Chloe turned she saw the figure raise what looked to be a shotgun and fired. Chloe yelled to Kayla, “Come on! He’s got a fuckin’ shotgun!”

Kayla floored the gas pedal and instinctively veered the Porshe right and left. She kept going on until there was enough distance from the gas station. 

They saw it at the same time. On the right side of the road, they spotted a police car another mutant looked as if he were eating the remains of a State Trooper. They drove by and the creature ignored them.

“Good thing that we fueled up because I’m not going to stop for a while.” Kayla said.

“We need that fuckin’ gun though. What do you think that cop’s carrying? A .45? A .9mm?”

“Um, are you crazy? I don’t feel like fucking with that freak’s meal. What if he’s not alone?”

“No, I think that he’s alone. If he wasn’t, they’d be all out there.”

“Chloe, how the fuck are you an authority on these things now, anyway? For that, we could go back and take that hillbilly’s shotgun, too.” Kayla said.

“No.” Chloe smiled. “That hillbilly could shoot us before we get close enough. I don’t think that freak’s gonna try to pick up the cop’s gun. We’ll just shoot the shit out of it.”

Kayla smiled and made a quick u-turn.

 

Chapter X.

030729_iraqss_06_jpg

Major Strigoi showed them around his makeshift laboratory. “If you want, you could tell your son to step in the next room. This part gets a little hairy.” Strigoi nodded towards Rico.

“No. he’s okay. He has autism, gory stuff really doesn’t bother him.” Rich said.

“Well, you don’t know that. He just doesn’t express himself the same way. Not that I’m telling you what to do.”

“Hmmm, you’re right.” Rich answered. “Hey Rico, step outside for a second, willya?”

“I’ll go with him.” Lacey said.  She put her arm around Rico and they stepped outside.

“Okay.” Strigoi said. He walked toward a large tarped area and removed the covering. It was a partitioned glass casing with rats. Some were dead, some were moving weakly. “Look at this one.” One rat had a large overbite and was trying to head butt the glass. Rich squirmed.

“Holy fuck. What if he breaks that glass? What the fuck is up with these rats?”

“I’m testing an anti-virus that I’ve developed. See that mean one? There’s people that are running around like that. Whatever H1N1 didn’t kill, it mutated. Except in our case, of course.”

“What? Holy shit! You should get the fuck out of here!” Rich said.

“Actually, this is the safest place to be.” Strigoi said with a smile. I’ve got weapons and I seal my part of the base off at night. That’s the only time that they come out, you know. Watch this.” Strigoi shined a flashlight directly at the mutated rat and it retreated as if burned. He kept the light on the rat and its fur started to burn, smoking inside the glass casing. Strigoi smiled.

“Hmmm. So what did you deduce so far from these mutated people, Doc?” asked Rich.

“They’re cannibals. I’ve seen them scavenge for corpses and I’ve seen them attack as well. Unfortunately, it was too late at the time or I would’ve saved the unaffected person. They also have twice the strength of humans. Twice the speed too. If you see one, there’s no reasoning with them either. They’re still humans, but in their most primal form. All they want to do is feed.”

“They won’t feed on each other?”

“No. It looks as if those who aren’t mutated are more appealing for some strange reason.”

Rich smiled. “So you spend your time watching them, Major?”

“Well, I suppose that does sound a bit deranged. Hey, what else have I got do besides trying to find a cure?”

“So, are you one of those Army scientists who are part of the Illuminati conspiracy?” Rich joked.

Strigoi laughed. “I’m really an optometrist. I just use a bunch of resources available because I want to know how a pandemic progressed into the apocolypse.”

Rich laughed. “Man, that’s great. The only thing is, do you just want to hang out here until you die? Do you want to drop the ‘Wizard of Oz” bit and have a road trip on steroids?”

Strigoi thought. “On the road is a little crazy, but that sounds intriguing.”

“We could ride the Hummer I’ve got out front.”

“Hmmm, so you acquisitioned a military vehicle. How did you know that I wasn’t going to get you in trouble?”

“I didn’t. I’m finding that out right now.” Rich smiled.

“Okay, I’ll go.” Strigoi grabbed an M16 rifle, rounds and another case of rounds for his .9mm.

“That’s it?” Rich asked.

“What do I need here that I can’t possibly get out there?”

“What about your experiments?”

“I’ve got some materials in here.” Strigoi produced a large rucksack. “I’m going to take my act on the road. Let’s go!”

Strigoi stopped in his tracks when he saw the Mark 19 and M249 mounted on the Humvee. “You know how to operate those?”

Rich smiled. “Yes sir. I was in Iraq. A gunner on a military police team. Let’s go guys.” Rich said to Lacey and Rico.

Strigoi smiled as he got into the Humvee. “This is going to be fun.” he thought.

Rich grabbed the laptop and climbed into the turret.

 

Chapter XI.

ack_zomb350 

When they came back for the trooper’s gun, the mutant was gone and Chloe grabbed the .45, which was in the trooper’s right hand, untouched. She shuddered thinking about the trooper shooting the mutant but to no avail as it still kept coming at him. She ran back to the Porshe and they sped off again. 

It was almost dawn when Kayla and Chloe found an old motel roadside on the long desert highway. They parked the Porshe by check-in and took keys and the first room that they opened. They immediately slept almost until two in the afternoon.

After waking up and getting ready, Kayla checks the laptop for any updates.

“Hey, Rich picked up another passenger and they hit the road again. Do you think that he’s too friendly and accomodating or that we’re really stuck up?”

Chloe laughed. “Look at our choices. A perv busting in on our desert, some looters, an apocolyptic  motorcycle gang, a hillbilly with a shotgun taking a shit in the gas station and a bunch of freaks. Um okay, we’re stuck up. At least he’s having a good time drinking beer and making friends while we’re trying to fight our way through the Mojave. Yeah, that’s really fair.”

“Yeah, I know. Let’s get the fuck out of here. I’m starting to get uncomfortable here.”

Kayla closed the laptop and as she and Chloe were walking out of the room, a mutant walked in. His skin was smoldering and he looked as if he were in his late teens to early 20’s with bloodshot eyes and had most of his body badly mutilated. Kayla screamed and backed up while Chloe grabbed her gun and shot the mutant. It kept on walking slowly towards them. As it inched ever closer, Chloe extended her gun in desperation and shot the mutant in the head. The mutant dropped to the floor on his back instantly.

“Holy shit! You have to shoot them in the head! Let’s get the fuck out here in case there’s more.” Chloe said excitedly.

They ran to the Porshe quickly with their guns in their hands and started the car.

“I can’t believe that we’re shooting guns now. This is fuckin’ crazy.” Kayla said.

“Yeah I know. I think that I’ll feel better once we all meet up and we have numbers.”

About fifteen miles down the road they saw several bikers on the side of the road. They had a female mutant hog-tied and were taking turns raping it. The bikers looked up at the black Porsche but didn’t stop what they were doing.

“Holy shit, we’d better get the fuck out of here before they decide they want pussy that’s not dead.” Kayla said as she accelerated.

“I don’t know what’s more scarier, those bikers or those things. Let’s hope that they all kill each other off.” said Chloe.

“Fuck yeah, Arizona!” Kayla said as she veered off into Highway 40.

“Yeah whoopie! One shit desert to another. Bikers and freaks love the fuckin’ sand.” Chloe said.

“Hopefully things will clear up a little bit.”

They saw another gas station and decided to change the Porsche for a more rugged vehicle. They spotted a green Jeep Cherokee with the driver at the side of the gas pump.

“He probably caught a heart attack paying $4.00 a gallon for premium.” Chloe said.

“Fuck everything, that shit is free now.” Kayla said as she topped off the jeep’s gas tank.

Chloe walked to the Porsce and gathered up their belongings and put them in the trunk of the jeeps while discarding the old jeep owner’s belongings. When Kayla finished pumping gas, they walked into the gas station and made sandwiches and gathered up automotive supplies, food, drinks and cigarettes. They then left, determined to drive through most of Arizona without incident.

 

Chapter XII.

m9 

Rich and his group made it through Pennsylvania in a matter of hours without incident. They decided to stop at a motel in Ohio for a rest and to teach Rico and Lacey basic  shooting principles. For the first time, they set up bottles in the backwoods near the motel. Strigoi and Rich practiced a bit so that Rico and Lacey could adapt to the sights and sounds of shooting.

“Okay.” Strigoi said. “Raise the weapon and just punch it forward in front of your chest area where you can view your sites. Easy trigger squeeze with meaty part of your finger before the bend. Breath out…”

There were to be many more practices at their leisure judging from the first day.

After training, the four ate MRE’s [Meals: Ready to Eat] on an outdoor table and talked.

After, they watched the sunset. Rich, Lacey and Strigoi drank beer. Rich suggested they make a bonfire.

“No, maybe not. We should really retire inside and one of us stand guard. When it’s dark, those things like to come out.”

Lacey shuddered. “Yeah, I think that we should keep our eyes open too.”

“I’ll get on the turret, it’s okay. Pretty much, if you hear firing, they’re here.” Rich said. “You guys go ahead.”

“I want to stay with you Daddy.” Rico said.

“Okay.” Rich said. If anything happened, he wanted Rico to be with him anyway. “Just go to sleep, though. It’s been a long day.”

Strigoi, Lacey and Rico went back towards the rooms. Rico came back out with a pillow and blanket.

Within fifteen minutes, Rico was fast asleep in the backseat. The seats weren’t adjustable so he was sleeping in an upright position. As Rich looked, Rico seemed to be sobbing in his sleep. “Mommy. Come.” Rich was almost angry with himself for taking him away from Dee. There was nothing back home though, he justified. I had to get him out of there. Rich began to sob also, not for his ex-wife but for Rico’s missing her. “Why the fuck did we end up hating each other?” Rich thought. “Why couldn’t we just be in love and raise our son together?” There were some answers that couldn’t be found in the Darkness.

Suddenly, Rich heard loud noises that sounded about half a mile down the road. “Motorcycles.” Rich said to himself. Angry at his thoughts being interrupted and of the possible impending danger, he woke Rico up. “Go get Lacey and Colonel, Rico. Go, move!”

Rico ran and knocked on their doors. Rich slid into the drivers seat and moved the Humvee into the roadside where he could get a clear shot at the bikers.

There were twenty of them that Rich estimated according to the motorcycle headlights. Rich climbed back into the turret peered through the sites of the M19 and fired three rounds. He smiled as he scored a direct hit. It was much easier to “get hot” when you weren’t firing from a moving vehicle.

It looked as if the motorcyles veered off to the side and a few were down. He fired six more rounds on both sides of the road. He saw headlights on the ground and figures running around and screaming. He heard shots, possibly from shotguns and .9mm pistols.

Rich laughed and positioned the SAW. He had a general idea where they were. He began to fire the machine gun in their direction and heard more screaming.

Lacey was out of her room first. She ran to the Humvee and got into the drivers seat. “Drive toward them!” Rich said.

“Are you fuckin’ crazy?” Lacey yelled back as she heard shots from the fallen bikes.

“Go, go! Don’t put the lights on!”

She hit the gas and drove toward the fallen bikers and taking out her pistol.

Strigoi and Rico ran after the Humvee but turned back when they couldn’t catch up.

“Slow down.” Rich said as they got closer. He looked for muzzle flashes from the bikers’ weapons and fired the SAW in their direction. “Speed up.” Rich then turned the turret back and forth and fired on both sides of the road while Lacey swerve around fallen bikes.

Rich reloaded the SAW. He then fired off more rounds from the M19. He didn’t hear any more return fire. “Turn around.” Rich told Lacey as they were about 500 feet from the bikers. Lacey knew exactly what Rich intended. A second sweep for survivors.

As they drove through a second time, Lacey screamed. A large biker dressed in all leather grabbed her. He was being dragged as he tried to hold on. She stepped on the gas as he grabbed her hair trying to get him off. “Slam on the brakes!” Rich yelled. She hit the brakes and the biker fell off. She then accelerated again. As the biker was rolling, Rich fired rounds in his direction but couldn’t tell if he got him.

They returned to the roadside in front of the motel where Strigoi and Rico were crouching down. Strigoi stood and flagged them down. Rich spotted them and said, “Let’s get our shit from the rooms and get the fuck out of here!”

Strigoi and Rico ran alongside the Humvee toward the rooms. They all ran back and grabbed their belongings. Rich stayed on the turret watching the road.

They all came back and threw their things into the vehicle within two minutes. “Just drive and don’t stop, Lacey.” Rich said.

“Why’d you start firing on them? They could’ve just kept on riding right by us!” Strigoi said.

“We don’t know that for sure. I didn’t want them to pull up and say hi. The first place thing they’ll look for is someplace to sleep.”

“Okay. Next time, we have to have a plan. I was expecting fuckin’ mutants not fuckin’ bikers.”

“My friends were having problems with bikers out by Nevada. There’s a lot of shit going on these roads.”

Lacey was wondering if Rich’s thirst for blood was account of him being still “shellshocked” from Iraq or because of something more Sinister. In that moment, she feared Rich and what he was capable of. He just committed mass murder without batting an eye and he made her an accomplice to it and it looked as if Strigoi accepted it. Was this the military way? To kill and not hurt inside?

Rich wiped a tear from his eye. He felt the guilt of having to involve Lacey in killing people, teaching her and Rico how to shoot. Worst of all, he no longer felt remorse over killing someone. The worst hurt of all is not hurting anymore after killing someone.

Rich grabbed his .9mm pistol and held it to his head.

“Mommy, Mommy!” Rico was fast asleep and dreaming again.

Rich looked incredulously at the pistol that he was just about to kill himself with. He quickly re-holstered the pistol. He buried his head in his hands and cried again.

Strigoi looked up at the turret from the passenger seat and saw Rich crying. He was going to ask him if everything was all right but thought better of it. “Get it together, man. Get it together.” he thought to himself.

Lacey looked over at Strigoi. “So, do you think that it would’ve been better off to die from H1N1 rather than deal with these bikers and the mutants you were talking about?”

Strigoi rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He took one last glance at Rich, who stopped crying. “Nobody’s better off dead. What you felt back there, the fear, the excitement, the moment. That’s life, that’s vitality.”

“Yeah, but we might not be so lucky next time.”

“That wasn’t luck. They were taken completely by surprise. They’re not used to being attacked, just being the aggressors. They didn’t know what the hell to do. I know that I first told Rich that he should’ve left them alone, but they would never have left us alone. They just want to scavenge and live off of death.”

Lacey thought for a minute then asked, “So what’s really the difference between them and us?”

Strigoi was amost stumped. “Probably nothing.”

The sun was rising at their backs.

Chapter XIII.

55356308.ArizonaAtSunrise_27623 

Chloe and Kayla sat on the roof of the parked Jeep Cherokee and watched the sun rise over the Arizona desert.

“Maybe we should find another room a few more miles away.” Kayla said.

“No, we should drive during the day. All the freaks come out at night. We’ll just take turns if you want.”

“Okay.” Kayla said as she climbed down the side of the jeep and into the passenger seat. “Let’s find some coffee too.”

“Yeah. Your cigarettes look lonely.”

“Fuck man. All this looking at fuckin’ desert is getting me restless. Sand, cactus if you’re lucky, more sand.”

Chloe started the jeep. “Could be worse. And it has been.”

“Yeah, I guess I really want out of the desert already.”

“Let’s hit the road.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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