“Looks like a perfect place to set up camp for a while,” Sarah James said. “There’s two intact buildings fully surrounded by a chain link fence.”
The four survivors stayed hidden behind some bushes. They were yards away from the edge of the fence. The buildings were the only structures in the area. They also spotted a ruined farm house about half-a-mile west of their location.
“Maybe,” Jake said sounding cautious. "It’s Charlie’s place, alright. But those six zeds wandering the area worries me. "
“Who’s Charlie?” Bryan asked. He held a Glock 17 at the ready. He and his mother, Sarah, found two of them in an abandoned apartment they searched months before.
It was the only time Bryan remembered his mother thanking anyone for practicing their “right to bear arms”, as she put it.
Bryan knew his mother hated guns. But that was before Z-Day.
His mother said that after Z-Day, guns were a necessary tool for survival in a world full of infected undead and other dangerous survivors.
“Charlie and his brother, Sheen, used to own that auto repair shop,” Jake explained. “They were good at what they did. A friend of mine would always bring his car here. I’d tag along when I was visiting the area.”
“Did you just say, “Charlie” and “Sheen” were brothers?" Sarah asked with a smile. It was probably the first time Jake had seen Sarah smile since he and Father Hoffman ran across her and her son on the highway nearly a week ago.
“Sure did,” Jake said. “Their mother was a big fan of the actor.”
“I bet they never forgave their mother for that,” Sarah said.
“Nope, they didn’t,” Jake said.
“I can draw them away,” Father Hoffman offered. He had his Remington Model 870 in hand, ready to deal out damage to both the living and the dead sinners of the world.
“Wait, Father,” Jake stopped him before the old preacher could move. “I have an idea. You three wait here. Besides Bryan, I’m the fastest runner here. I’ll draw the zeds away from the area without firing a shot. When the zeds are far enough away, make your way to the fence line and find a way in.”
The three couldn’t argue with Jake’s idea.
Shooting the infected undead meant drawing more of them into the area.
Going up close and attacking them with melee weapons was scary too, considering all it took was a single bite from any of them to be infected.
And the survivors know enough that once bitten, you’re guaranteed to turn into a zombie.
It wasn’t a matter of if you’ll turn.
It was simply a matter of when you’ll turn.
The three waited a while longer before they made their way to the fence line.
Jake, who was fast on his feet, led all six zeds away from the area before making his way back to the group.
However, Jake wasn’t alone.
Eight other people were following him.
Three were women. One was a boy, about Bryan’s age.
They looked liked that they had just been through a lot.
They were dressed in normal clothes. Each was armed with simple weapons they may have scrounged up from just about anywhere.
Except for one. The youngest of the men had a Katana sheathed on his back.
When they got closer Father Hoffman raised his arms wide in greeting. “Welcome, welcome. You all look like lost sheep. God in His infinite mercy has made sure you brought to us. You are safe here. You are among friends.”
The new survivors introduced themselves.
They all claimed to have escaped from the town of Dalesbury, about two days walk northeast.
“A few days back, we ran across six well-armed people who said they were from Dalesbury too,” Jake said. He described the people he and the others fought against.
“The M-16 guy sounds like Jed,” a woman who introduced herself as Leann Hopp said. “He’s one of Governor Lewis’s follower.”
“Ya, sounds like him,” a man named Tom Cook added. “He was one mean son-of-a-gun . He was one of the reasons we escaped from Dalesbury.”
Each then began to tell their stories of how, at first, Governor Lewis and Dalesbury seemed like a Godsend. Within months, however, the reality of what the Governor was like became clear.
The women spoke of the Governor claiming ownership of every woman in town. The other men in town would have to “earn” their women if they wanted to marry one.
Even the men were treated no less as slaves by Governor Lewis and his close circle of followers. People were forced to work the fields or be beaten and not given food or water.
Anyone who opposed Governor Lewis was killed in the town’s square as a warning to others.
The town had existed for less than two years.
But for most in Dalesbury, it seemed more like an eternity in Hell.
Sarah couldn’t believe what she had heard. She knew the world had become a harsher place to live.
But she couldn’t believe that humans could ever be worse than the billions of undead out there.
Sarah and Bryan had heard rumors about a place called The Pits, a dark place where children were taken to battle for sport in arenas filled with the Living Dead.
No one knew exactly where The Pits was, or if it even existed.
But it was one of the many reasons Sarah wanted to leave the Rotter Lands and find Stadium City.
Stadium City, for many, was like a mecca for survivors. A safe place to start all over again in a world full of devastation.
“We better get inside that fence line before those zeds come back,” Jake insisted.
The group, now twelve people strong, followed the fence line.
The front gate—the only entrance they found—was locked tight.
Luckily, they found a part of the fence that looked like it had been pushed in far enough that it left an opening wide enough for a person, or a zombie, to enter.
Once inside, they carefully looked around.
There were two buildings on the property. One, clearly the main repair shop, was a two-story structure made of some pre-engineered steel.
A large rolling industrial garage door allowed vehicles to enter the shop from the building’s west side.
A smaller door stood at one end of the shop’s southern face.
The remains of three zombies laid on the grass in front of the door.
By the looks of them, someone had taken a large blunt weapon to their heads.
Jake tried the door.
It was locked and barred from the inside.
The other structure may have served as a storage shed. It was easily the size of a traditional garage.
There was a large closed padlock on its old-style steel door that had to be lifted outward by hand.
Father Hoffman gave the door to the shop a strong shove.
The door pushed in a few inches.
He then peeked in.
And heard the moans of two zombies inside!
“I think Charlie and Sheen have been turned,” Father Hoffman said to the others. “They have paid for the grave sins of the actor they’ve been named after!”
Jake told Father Hoffman to push the door open all the way and let the zombies come outside.
Father Hoffman did and as soon as both zombies emerged, Sarah, Bryan, Jake and Father Hoffman surrounded them and put them both down as quickly as possible.
Satisfied that Charlie and Sheen were no longer a threat, the group carefully made their way inside the repair shop.
Inside, they found a large shop.
Two vehicles, a mid-sized Chrysler 300 and an older model GMC delivery truck, sat in the shop’s repair bay.
The door they entered from led into the shop’s office.
They searched the dead brothers’ bodies and found the set of keys they needed.
Meanwhile, Isabella Blessing, one of the survivors from Dalesbury offered to inspect the vehicles. She said she had worked as a mechanic before Z-Day.
They opened the storage shed outside and found it stock full of water in barrels. There were boxes of non-perishable food stuff and canned goods. There were also rolled up pieces of chain-link fencing, which they immediately used to close the part of the fence they came through.
It looked like the brothers could have withstood an undead siege for weeks!
Back inside, Isabella said that both vehicles needed some repair work. Luckily she had all the necessary tools at hand. Both had gas in their tanks.
However, the GMC truck needed new tires.
Both needed batteries, which the shop didn’t have.
Jake asked if either one was a manual transmission. They could then roll it out and start it on the move.
Isabella shook her head.
One of the Dalesbury survivors, a man named Ron Rosen, said that Dalesbury had some cars. It was certain to have the batteries they needed.
Jake asked just how well-defended Dalesbury was.
After the others told him, he decided that it was far too dangerous to try and get a car battery from Dalesbury.
“We can search the nearby farms for those,” Sarah offered.
Someone found a map of the local area in the office. The map showed a nearby town and the larger town of Fowler several days walk south of the repair shop.
“We can hold up here for a spell,” Father Hoffman suggested. “It’s safe enough. There’s ample supplies to last at least a week.”
“Yeah. Good idea,” Jake added in support. “At least until we figure out what to do next. We can sleep in the truck and on the floor. There’s plenty of room for everyone.”
Everyone was happy to be safe for the moment.
Jake even started up some small-talk with Storm Wright, a young twenty-something woman, who along with her son, Richard, had escaped Dalesbury after enduring being treated like a concubine by Governor Lewis.
Although Storm didn’t mind Jake’s company, Jake knew that it was too soon to try and make any moves toward her.
She was attractive, he’d giver her that! And she was into men, too. That was a plus for Jake.
After eating what was left of the MREs they found in the supply crate as well as some of the food and water form the shed, they settled in for the night.
Jake decided it would be best if they took turns on watch. Despite there being a fence surrounding the property, he didn’t feel comfortable enough to sleep through the night without anyone on watch.
The first half of the night was quiet enough.
During the second watch, they heard what sounded like someone climbing over the fence outside.
Quickly checking through boarded up windows and the office door leading outside, they spotted four armed individuals inside the fence perimeter.
“Looks like Dalesbury folk!” Father Hoffman said. “Wake up the others!”
The survivors began breaking off wooden boards that blocked their line of sight through the windows.
Outside, the four from Dalesbury ran for cover.
One, a man armed with a bow, was giving orders for the other three to surround the shop.
He then yelled for the people inside the shop to surrender peacefully and they would be spared. He said he and the others with him had tracked the survivors to this place.
He added that they weren’t going back until they completed their assignment.
Father Hoffman told the bow man they would never surrender to anyone from Dalesbury.
That’s when the shooting began.
The survivors held off the attackers who tried to storm the repair shop.
At one point, Father Hoffman had someone opened the large rolling door leading outside.
As soon as he could see one of the attacker’s legs, his shotgun tore through the attacker’s legs. The woman dropped dead.
He then ducked under the door and stepped outside.
From the sounds of it, all but the bow man was dead.
Knowing he was beaten, Bow Man ran to the fence and started to climb over.
Father Hoffman warned the others that Bow Man was trying to escape!
Jake rushed outside to join him.
By the time he got there, Bow Man had made it to the other side and was trying to get away as fast as he could.
Jake hoped that the dozen or so zombies attracted to the area by all the gunfire would take care of Bow Man.
“So much for ‘completing the assignment’,” Jake said.
Both he and Father Hoffman took shots at the fleeing man.
Despite having only the moon to see by, they managed to wound him.
That slowed him down enough for one of them to finish off Bow Man with another shot.
Within seconds, three zombies were feasting on him.
Jake and Father Hoffman rejoined the others.
Fortunately no one was hurt.
To make sure none of the attackers rose again as an undead, they crushed in their skulls.
It was disgusting work. But it had to be done.
After taking the bodies outside the fence line, those who didn’t get enough sleep tried to. It was hard falling back asleep after what had happened.
But soon, all those except on watch were fast asleep.
After everyone woke up, Jake suggested moving on.
Some argued that the repair shop was a perfect to set up camp. Others feared more from Dalesbury would eventually find them.
Meanwhile, zombies which had been alerted during the battle, had surrounded the place.
About a dozen of the undead were gathered together along one part of the fence.
Jake was worried that if the zeds started pushing through the fence, it wouldn’t hold.
After discussing the dire situation, everyone agreed that it might be better if they all followed the map. They could first head to the nearest town indicated on the map. The name was illegible.
They then agreed to make their way to the town of Fowler, the next closest town on the map.
Gathering everything they could carry, the twelve survivors left the repair shop and followed the map.
As they quickly made their escape, thanks to Jake and Bryan leading the zeds as far way from the others as possible, everyone couldn’t help but wonder if they would someday find a safe place they could call home.
Leann Hopp, Tom Cook, John Buckley, Ron Rosen, Storm Wright (mid 20s), Richard Wright (Storm’s 11-yr old son), Isabella Blessing (Repair d6), Chris Bell