The ever constant wind rattles the hatch slightly and whistles through the trailer. Wylie lets out a low "huff", alerting me to the presence of something or someone nearby. Renegade trots over to join us, his ears flattened hard against his head.
"Yeah, I know, boys, I think I heard it too," I whisper, grabbing the shotgun, while clicking off the safety. I give them the hand signal of a flat hand, palm outword "Stay" as I move quietly towards a porthole. I slide the small tinted glass window into place, before removing the metal cover, then slide it open. Not much visibility, even though the skies are clear and I can make out the Big Dipper.
Wylie huffs again, a definite sign he has picked up a scent. "Little Man, you have a nose to rival Piper's, I swear." I turn back to the window, watching for movement of any kind.
It's been about 3 years since we found this shipping container and turned into "home". 8 feet x 40 feet of pure steel. I welded out little port holes and a hatch and the double doors on the one end are locked and barred from the inside. I was able to pound a sand point well directly outside at about 20 feet, so I tunneled under the container, blew a hole the width of a hose from the bottom, and have a pitcher pump set up inside.
I divided the space into 3 sections: Living/Sleeping, eating and sanitary. The kitchen was made out of salvaged wood and planks nailed together to create counter space, a hutch and shelves below. It has a sink made out of Coleman cooler. I drain the water from the plug in the bottom into a 5 gallon bucket which I run through a rock/sand filter before draining into the garden area located on the south side of the container.
I also made a composting toilet out of a 5 gallon bucket and a 55 gallon bucket. The 55 gal is enclosed with just a bung hole which I vented out the side of the container. Helps with decomposition and smell. Not pretty, but efficient. The "bathroom" also has a little sink that drains into the toilet and a "shower", which is basically a tarp, strung up to make a box and a 2 5 gallon buckets that sit on a shelf above the top of the tarp, with a spout attached to the head of an old watering can.
I usually fill those up and let them sit at room temp for a couple of days before taking a shower cos 52 degree water straight out of the ground is mighty cold! I scrounged up an old granite shower pan on one of my trips, that sits on 4 cement blocks. It drains directly out the floor into a 55 gallon bucket buried in the ground near the garden. When it gets to 25 gallons, I have holes punched in the sides, and it becomes an underground sprinkler system of sorts.
The dogs and I occupy about a 8 x 20 space for living. I have a trundle bed, I sleep in the top bed and the dogs sleep underneath on the folded down bed. I also use it like a day bed for a couch, which comes in nice when I have company (hahahahah). I have one of those wooden cocktail tables with the spring lifted top, so it lifts up to serve as a dining room table.
My big luxury is an actual desk and an old wicker patio chair and a yoga mat. I do yoga and work out every day. I like things neat. Ship shape. My stockpiles are inventoried. Everything accounted for. Nothing wasted. Most my inside light comes from the port holes when it is safe to have them open and from dynamo lanterns and flashlights. I have a dynamo radio, but I haven't heard anything broadcast for months.
Renegade growls. "shhhh, they'll hear you." The attacks have been less lately. For as stupid as the Z's are, they are relentless. One time they stuck around for about a month, before moving on. Just banging and moaning. Then one day, gone. Must have found readily available fresh meat and went after it.
I stopped wasting ammo on them once the container was secure. I know they can't get it, but that also means there are limited times we can get out. Being near a port was helpful in the beginning, before all the looting. But once the living got done with the spoils, the Z's came in for the spoiled.
Ren and Wylie were just pups when we found them. I needed another dog like a hole in the head. Piper, my little Jack Russell princess, was enough to worry about. She looked like the RCA dog, a broken coat Jack Russell, with a black spot on her ass right at her tail and the most adoreable face ever.
And man, she had a nose and ears on her like nobody's business. She'd cock her head to one side, look up at me with those big brown eyes, letting me know trouble was around the corner, the dead or alive kind. And what a mouser!
Before we found the container, we were on the road. There were some damn lean times, but that little mutt came through with mice, rabbits, whatever she could find. So one day she comes to me with this little curly haired pup, probably about 6 weeks old. Wasn't quite sure what kind he was, but he was full of piss and vinegar as she dragged him along. She kinda dropped him at my feet and gave me the "can we keep him look?" Another mouth to feed but what the heck. Wylie is what I picked for him.
About a month later she comes back with a younger male, that is almost the spitting image of her. They looked like book ends. Another, "look what followed me home" look and we named him Renegade. I didn't realize it at the time, but she was building her pack.
The boys were pretty easy to train, and like Piper, I used hand signals. We'd go out hunting and scavaging, and Piper kept them in line, nipping at them if they didn't meet her approval. She was smart as a whip, fast, and when the day was done, she was the first in my lap.
There were a couple of times I thought for sure that we'd lose the boys due to their playfulness and being so young, but they came around and seasoned. Being hunting dogs, they were very good at what they were supposed to do, find the prey and keep it at bay. They could scent out people, the undead and food.
Piper would start digging through rubble if she smelled something. A couple of times, she found dead bodies. I mean dead dead. What is it with dogs and rotting meat anyway? I'd sternly tell her "no" and she'd give me that "I was only doing my job" look, and I'd smile and ruffle her hair.
One day when we were out scavaging, all 3 of them perked up, running towards a boarded up house. They crowded near the door, sniffing and jumping. I let out a low whistle and gave them the "down" hand signal. They immediately laid down, whining slightly, as I approached.
Through the door, I could hear someone faintly, "Please help me." I sighed. I wasn't big into rescues. I checked the door handle, it was locked. I stood back and looked at the house, all windows boarded up. I heard rustling behind the door and again, "Please help me" I drew my breath and knocked the door handle hard with the butt of my rifle. The damned thing broke off.
It was too risky to shoot off a round and although I am not really big enough to be kicking in doors, I gave it my all as my Size 5's hit the wood. "Shit" I spat out giving it another 2 good kicks. It swung open to a scene I could not believe.
Blood spattered walls, gross rotting stench from 3 dead dead bodies . The voice came again, "Please help me." "Where are you?" I rasped. "Where are you?" I said a little louder.
Suddenly Piper bounded across the room and began scratching at a door near the staircase. My hand went up "stay" I signaled. I put my ear to door, "Please help me". I tried the handle and it clicked open. Through the dusk, I could see the raggity body of a little girl, maybe 4-5 years old lying on the floor.
"Please help me" I reached forward as Piper jumped past me growling, hackles raised. The kid's hands reached up, clumsily catching Piper and as she slightly raised up, she sunk her teeth into Piper's neck.
"What the FUCK!" I yelled, as Piper screamed and her jugular split open. I scooted away, grabbed my shot gun and aimed it at the kid's head, blowing it off and parts of Piper with it.
"Muther fucker muther fucker muther fucker", I sobbed. "MUTHER FUCKER !!!!" I SCREAMED not caring who or what heard me.
Looked back into the room at the bloody mess, wondering "How the hell??"
Then I heard it again, "Please help me" and I grabbed the ToysRUs kiddie tape recorder off the floor and threw it against the wall, shattering it into little yellow and red pieces.
I walked over and picked up what was left of Piper. Brave heart, she deserved a decent burial and she was coming home with us, to be with her pack. I still miss her, been 2 years now.
Wylie huffed again as Renegade came to my side, snapping me back into the present.
"Shhhh, I don't think there is anything out there, Wyles. . ."I started to say when I caught movement against the half moon lit night and the recognizable moaning started up.
"Don't like to waste ammo, but this one's for Piper, you muther fuckers. . ."