We had a pretty successful “scavenger hunt” today. We found some canned mangos and apricots, plus a whole, unopened container of beef jerky! Apparently the last people through town didn’t like the fruit, and the jerky canister had rolled under a shelf and was missed! Lucky us. I should buy a lottery ticket… Jim and Mildred are very nice people. Jim is a retired police officer (30 years on the streets) and Mildred was a stay-at-home-mom. They only had one child, a son, who lives in California and calls at least once a week. Well, until the Flu outbreak he called regularly. They have given up hope. But they have graciously taken us “under their wings” and opened their home to us. It’s a lovely two-story farm house with a basement. Yesterday we managed to finish the “moat” using Jim’s small backhoe. Now anyone approaching the house is looking at crossing an eight-foot deep trench about 6 feet wide before they can even knock on the door. We only had to dig about three quarters of the way around the house since the rear is facing a ravine, and they have a walk-out basement. The door has been fortified with two old freezers filled with concrete blocks, and we’ve severed the steps of the back porch from the backyard up to the first floor. Tonight we should sleep a little easier.
After we got into the fire station back in Williamsport, Tim and I shook hands. We shared a look, one that said we knew the doors wouldn’t hold long. The delicate sunlight streaming in from the oval windows in each bay door was slowly being blocked by the horde outside. It was eerie, but we also knew we had a little time to come up with a plan.
Mel said “I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know we can’t stay here long! Them doors are gonna eventually buckle if they keep pushin’ in on ‘em like that.” I shook Mel’s hand and thanked them both for letting us get in the station.
“Is there a roof access?” I asked as I looked back at the girls huddling around their mother.
Tim affirmed it with a grunt. “Back in the office is a ladder to the hatch. We can climb out there but I don’t know how much good that’ll do…”
“Maybe we can get a good look at what kind of numbers we’re talking, or maybe just get a handle on some kind of a plan.” I offered, not really sure of what good it would do. But it was something to do.
I looked at Pam and said “Get in the van with the girls and Mel and lock it up. If Anything happens, gun it outta here fast. Hit anyone or anything that gets in your way and go North. We can try and make it to my parent’s house. I’ll meet you there.” I could read the protest in her eyes, but she knew it was the way it had to be, so she put on a brave face for the girls and simply said “Okay.” I kissed her and squeezed the girls and kissed their heads. “I love you and I’ll be right back.”
Tim and I hurried into the back office and scurried up the ladder as fast as we could. When we opened the hatch, the light poured in and we stumbled out into its brilliance. Thank God for the breeze, because the odor of rot was swirling around and not stagnant.
We looked down at the front of the building. If I had to guess, there were probably 250 bodies either at the bay doors or heading to it. Apparently we were the only game in town. The street was filled with masses of dead, some walking, some crawling and a few moving rather quickly, dodging the slower moving corpses.
The back of the fire station opened on a small gravel path that leads to a small intermittent waterfall (Indiana’s highest intermittent waterfall at 90 feet!) The path stops twice: once at the observation deck, and again, gently sloping down to the dry creek bed below. I asked “Hey, Tim, don’t you guys have a cherry-picker here?”
“Ayup” Tim said, spitting a stream of tobacco juice on some poor souls below.
“I think I have an idea.”
"Okay." Tim said flatly, the look on his face betraying his confusion and wonder.
"Do you think we could use the picker at the bottom of the falls to lure those ignorant fools to over the edge?" I answered with a hint of excitement.
"How do you mean?"
"I mean, make a distraction out front, drive the picker down to the bottom, raise the box with one of us in it up to the edge of the falls and watch them crack their own skulls open on the rocks below trying to get us. Think it could work?"
"Well, no one else has come up with anything else, so why not. Who's gonna drive and who's gonna be bait?" Tim asked.
"I'll be the bait, I'm fat and juicy. Which one of you drives the picker the best?"
"Mel is the ONLY one who drives the picker. He won't let anyone else touch the damn thing, selfish bastard."
"I heard that ya old coot." came Mel's voice from the roof access port. He was coming up. "and while you're bad mouthin' me up here, the uglies down there are breakin' through."
My blood turned cold, and I ran for the front edge of the building and looked down. The bay door we drove in was holding, but heavily damaged. It wouldn't be long, and I looked back at the hole in the roof yelled "Mel, get my girls up here NOW!"
The crash I heard below stopped my heart. It wasn't the door being caved in, it was the door being smashed out. I swung around just in time to see the van busting through the crowd below. Pam took about 15 or 20 of the creeps out with the door itself, and carved a path through the throng and took off up the street. Through my tears I said "Well, there's our distraction. Let's get to work, boys. I don't want this to go to waste." The zeds were slowly turning to follow the van and we climb down the back of the building to the picker.