December 15, 2005

Terra Mortis II

Chapter 13

By Dwayne MacInnes

The band of survivors at the Ranger's cabin had given up all hope of seeing Carl alive. Everyone believed that he had died during the blizzard. The loss was doubly troubling because Carl was also the only one amongst those at the cabin who knew how to hunt. With their food supply dwindling every day, the outlook of any of them being alive in the spring was grim.

Vernon had already cut everyone down to a minimal daily food ration in order to sustain life. Gloria was of immense help to Vernon. Though he was only a veterinarian he was the closest thing they had to a real doctor. Gloria was able to assist the vet in assessing and prescribing for humans.

Doc worried mostly about the children. The poor kids had suffered so much already and now he had to watch them slowly waste away. Fortunately, no major cold or flu outbreak had swept through the cabin. He doubted if the children would have been able to survive a sickness especially the young twins.

Doc was also impressed with how well behaved the children were. They obeyed Missy's orders without any complaint or protest. He also never heard the children openly complain about being hungry. Maybe Missy pointed out to them that everyone was starving or maybe it was just that the children had already endured such grievous conditions that no child should ever have to witness.

The dynamics of the group had already taken shape. Pastor Brown and Rabbi Rosenberg acted as the group's leaders. Their sound wisdom kept the party alive. In fact, it was probably their unpopular decision not to search for Carl that may have prevented further loss. None of them had any real wilderness skills and George carried their only remaining firearm, his Browning BLR .358 rifle. It was after a couple days that everyone came around to the holy men's line of thinking.

Doc and Gloria of course acted for the group's welfare. They had set up the location of the latrine away from the cabin and away from their water source to prevent any disease. They monitored everyone's condition to make sure that no one was ill from the lack of food. The calorie calculation was very fine. Nevertheless, even with them eating next to nothing the food supply would run out long before spring.

Missy, a mere nineteen years of age, acted as mother for the four children. By no means was this an easy task under ideal conditions. However, she took over the role naturally. The children reacted to her as if she had always been a member of their family.

The four children still acted as normal children for the most part. They played and joked around. This did a lot to relieve the tensions that everyone was undergoing. Adam was the only one who seemed to have been adversely affected by their experiences. The young boy would still wake up from nightmares of ghouls chasing him or of seeing his parents gunned down by soldiers. Missy's presence always calmed the boy back down, and he would resume his slumber usually to her soft humming.

George was the mechanic. He kept the party's two vehicles in operating condition. George suggested that if the snow should melt enough he could drive down to the nearest town, house, gas station, or whatever and find food. Everyone knew that it was risky. The weather, the dead, and even the living could all pose fatal problems.

Fortune seemed to smile on the group when the temperature had risen to over 40 degrees over the past few days. The snows had receded enough for the attempt to be made. Doc insisted that he go along with George to help with the search, loading of supplies, and help with any problems. The big decision was whether they should take the rifle or not. Both Doc and George insisted that the group at the cabin keep their only weapon. Doc and George would have to make the run unarmed.

Doc sat there at the dining room table pondering in the dark of the night. Everyone else was asleep. Missy and Gloria slept with the children in the small bedroom while the men slept in the living room area. Doc couldn't sleep tonight. So he sat in the dining room at the table worrying over their many problems.

Vernon didn't really like the idea of splitting up the group again. They had already lost one party member. But was it more of a risk to split the party again or bring everyone along? This discussion went on for a while. Finally, the decision was that it would be better just to send the two men, and everyone else would stay in the relative safety of the cabin.

Doc should really be sleeping, but he was nervous. Even after all he had endured over the last few months, he still didn't relish the idea of running into potential problems. He knew that the zombies could barely function in the cold of winter, but the gangs of the living predators were often more of a threat than the undead. There was no telling how far they have spread, or in what place they may be laying in ambush to rob and murder unsuspecting victims.

Doc stood up from the table. He really should get some rest. Maybe things would go their way. It may only take them a few hours to get to town and back with all the supplies they would need without encountering anyone or anything. Doc smiled sardonically in the darkness thinking maybe he was becoming an optimist.

The wind started to howl. The smile evaporated from Doc's face. It was apparent that their troubles weren't over. It looked like they were doomed to slow starvation after all. Doc looked over at the men sleeping in the living room to see George fly out of his sleeping bag.

George ran over to the door and flung it open. Doc stood there dumbfounded not comprehending what was going on. The crisp air flooded into the room. The other men in the room awoke in bewilderment.

"George, what is it?" asked the groggy Rabbi.

"There's a truck heading up the road," George said pulling his rifle from where it rested against the wall.

"A truck!" Doc exclaimed. So it wasn't the wind he heard. In the very least, it looked like starvation may not be what does them in, but instead raiders. With that realization, Doc ran over towards George.

"Shut the damn door. Looks like the raiders finally found us," growled Doc.

George shut the door and blocked it. Brown ran into the bedroom. The other three men went over to the window and crouched behind it. Looking out the frosted panes they could see the headlights of truck slowly driving up the tree lined road.

All they could make out was that it was a pickup. The truck stopped a few yards from the two-ton truck and bus. The beams from the headlights flooded the interior of the cabin. Doc and the Rabbi ducked down below the window. Only George continued his vigil out the window his knuckles white from gripping his BLR.

The Pastor crawled over to the men at the window.

"I told the women to keep themselves and the children low. If the raiders break into the cabin they are to get themselves and the children out the rear window and head for the woods," hissed the Pastor.

A creaking door could be heard opening on the truck. No one could see anything because of the glaring lights. George opened the window and lifted the rifle up to his shoulder. He levered a cartridge into the chamber and sighted down the barrel towards the lights.

Just as suddenly as it all began, the lights blinked out. George blinked his eyes. He was just as blind as he was when the lights were shining in his eyes. Doc peered over the ledge of the window and because his eyes were more adjusted to the dark than George's he could see a man slowly approaching them.

"Give me the gun," whispered Doc.

George obediently passed the rifle over the vet still blinking and rubbing his eyes. Doc had never fired a firearm before. However, George had given everyone lessons in the operation of the rifle. Doc lined up the gun's front and back sites onto the man approaching the cabin. He slowly started to squeeze the trigger.

"Pastor Brown, Rabbi Rosenberg, Doc, George are you guys in there?" the darkened shape called out.

Doc lowered the rifle to the floor and stood up in front of the window.

"Carl?" replied the bewildered vet.

"It's all right. I've brought help and supplies," called out the old man.

The four men flew out the cabin's door and ran up to Carl. They could not believe their eyes. Simultaneously they began to pelt the man with questions.

Carl just laughed and hugged them all in turn.

"Looks like I'm the 'Prodigal Son'. Right Pastor," laughed the FBI agent.

"Maybe you guys didn't notice that it is the 25th, so I'd say you are more of a Christmas miracle. Merry Christmas everyone!" the pastor cried.

"Maybe there is something to be said for your Santa Claus," smiled the Rabbi as he pointed out the red 1955 Dodge truck. "I guess he traded in the sleigh for a truck."

By this time, the women and the children being curious had flocked out of the cabin bringing a lit oil lamp with them. That was when they noticed the three people hanging back by the truck.

There was a tall stocky black man dressed as a soldier, a petite Asian girl with short black hair dressed in a black leather outfit with a pink pistol on her hip, and a young man in glasses also dressed in black leather holding a Louisville slugger bat. They all leaned back against the hood of the red Dodge smiling at the reunion.

"Please, let me introduce our saviors," smiled Carl motioning for the trio to approach.

"This is Sergeant Greene the man who saved me. I'll give you the details later."

Ronald started exchanging handshakes with everyone as they slapped him on the back.

"Hi, I'm Noriko Fubuki, but everyone just calls me Nori," Nori said without further prompting.

"I'm Vernon Stephenson, but everyone calls me Doc. So I guess we are both nicknamed after dwarves," laughed Doc.

Nori shot Brady in the ribs with her elbow as he groaned at Doc's joke.

After everyone was introduced, they all moved into the cabin to get out of the cold. Carl then told them his story of how he saw the helicopter crash and followed the trail to the cabin. The FBI agent finally let everyone in on the secret of what he and his mission were.

"So after the supplies are unloaded I'm heading back east. I'm sorry to leave you guys, but many lives are at stake," Carl said.

"I've been thinking that we should bring everyone back with us. We can't all stay at Brady's cabin, of course, but we can locate you guys into cabins in the area," offered Sarge.

"It would be a shame to leave our happy camp here, but you are probably right," Pastor Brown smiled.

"Of course ... that's it!" Brady yelled as he stood up.

Everyone looked at him as if he was a lunatic. As Brady realized that he was the focus of everyone's attention, he sat back down.

"Sorry, it's just that I totally forgot all about it," the young man said.

"Son, could you please let us all in on your revelation," Sarge prodded.

"Look there is this summer camp about twenty miles west of our cabin. It should have some supplies because they were getting it ready for the summer before everything happened."

Brady went over to a map on the wall and started tracing out a route to the summer camp for the group. "There's a lake, several buildings, cabins, a great lodge and it already has a fence around most of it to prevent the average homesick kid from running away."

"What's the name of our new home?" asked Gloria.

"Camp Crystal Lake," returned Brady.

"You've got to be kidding me? Is it haunted by someone in a hockey mask?" laughed Nori in her usual bubbly laugh.

Everyone else started to laugh. Brady looked around the room and smiled and then he went over to Nori and whispered in her ear, "Am I missing something?"

"Man, didn't you watch any movies?" Nori said a bit too loud.

The whole household except Brady started to laugh even harder. Brady just sat down and turned a deeper shade of red.

Posted by deg at December 15, 2005 8:57 AM

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