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The Survivalistas: Book 3- Piper

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The Survivalistas

Book 3- Piper

By Shandy Jo

Shakespir Edition

Copyright 2015 Shandy Sanford

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

Thank you for downloading this free ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book, please return to Shakespir.com to discover other works by this author. Thank you for your support.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. While the places maybe real the author has used creative license.

 

 

 

 

 

Author’s Note: This work has not been professional edited, I do this as a hobby for fun. That is why my books are currently free. If you find any misspellings, grammar issues or problems in general with this work please let me know. I look forward to hearing what you think, feel free to email me at [email protected] or just lay it all on the line and leave a review. I encourage constructive criticism of all kinds. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

Prologue

Beside Piper there was a groan, she cracked open her eyes. Head pounding like a jackhammer she took in the lump beside her. Drinking so much had crappy side effects. Why did she let Shanna talk her into going out? She was trying to get her life together, not let it fall completely apart. Another groan came from the blankets then a head poked out.

“Oh God, I feel like crap.”

Piper let out a sigh, at the sight of Topher, her best friend Shanna’s brother. He groaned again. Piper smiled, at least she hadn’t done anything stupid, Topher would have never taken advantage of her completely drunk. Shanna had been her BFF since grade school and by extension so had Topher. Forced to go along and keep them out of trouble the three had formed a strong bond.

“Remind me never to try and keep up with you two again.”

“Hey if you can’t run with the big dogs…” She murmured.

“Whatever, and stop yelling. My heads going to split like a ripe casaba.”

Piper started to chuckle but it hurt her head. “Why am I in your bed?”

“Fuck if I know, everything after the absinthe is a blank.”

With a groan of her own she tossed the blankets off and sat up. Big mistake. The throbbing intensified and a wave of dizziness made her stomach roll. If Couch McGregor saw her like this she’d get a foot up her back side. As if to remind her that the Couch was no longer an issue, her knee gave a dull ache. Absently she rubbed it, stupid accident robbing her of her promising Gymnastics career.

Shaking off the self-loathing, she looked over her shoulder. “I’m going to steal your shower.”

“Ok just don’t take it to far.” Topher replied with a grimacing smile.

Shaking her head she climbed out of bed and shakily made her way to the bathroom. Kicking the door shut, she grabbed the sink and tried to calm her raging stomach once she was sure she wasn’t going to puke, she looked in the mirror. Smudged make-up decorated her eyes, gunked in the corner and man was she pale. Maybe she should take Shanna up on that tanning offer.

Shaking her head, she climbed into the shower. Using Topher’s Axe body wash she scrubbed away last nights grossness. After washing her hair with some fragrant less shampoo, she stood under the spray. Finally pulling herself out, she dried off pulled on her underwear and snagged Topher’s bathrobe from the door. Luckily she and Shanna were the same size so she could raid her closet.

Picking up her clothes she exited the bathroom. Topher was no where to be seen, but the smell of eggs and bacon wafted down through the open basement door. Climbing the stairs she stepped into the kitchen. Shanna stood at the stove in her Hello Kitty pajamas, making breakfast. Topher sat hunched over a cup of steaming coffee, his dark hair wet. He must have used the upstairs shower.  Red rimmed and bloodshot, his green eyes were dulled with pain.

“Hey Shanna, can I borrow some clothes?”

“Sure.” She gestured with the spatula toward the laundry room. “There’s a basket of clean stuff on the dryer. Help yourself.” As Piper headed toward the laundry room, Shanna added. “Toss your dirty stuff in the washer.”

“Thanks.” Dropping her clothes in the washer, she dug through the basket. Pulling out a pair of jeans and a tee shirt. Without taking off the robe she shimmied into the jeans, then removed the robe and put on the shirt. She padded back into the kitchen, Shanna set two plates of eggs, toast and bacon on the table. Getting down a cup Piper poured herself some coffee, then sat at the table. “I thought all the meat was inedible, since the recall.”

“This is fresh from the farm. Uncle Ted brought it over, he’s made a small fortune selling unprocessed stuff. Everyone wants organic now, they’re afraid the terrorist will target something else.”

“Good for him.” Piper picked up a piece a toast and began pulling the crust from the sides. Shanna clicked on the small TV on the counter as Topher’s phone belted out Stalker Girl by the Arrogant Worms.

Reaching over Topher hit the button to silence it. “I can’t handle her this morning.”

“Who?” Piper asked popping a piece of toast in her mouth.

“His stalker.” Shanna supplied.

Piper grinned, as she chewed and swallowed. “I didn’t know you had a stalker.”

“I took her out a couple times, it got weird and dumped her. Only she didn’t take it so well, now she keeps calling.”

“So block her.”

“Tried. She stole my friend, Mark’s, phone and called me.”

“Well at least she’s dedicated.”

“You have no idea.”

The phone rang again.

Piper took another bite of toast, slowing chewing. After swallowing she asked, “You want to get rid of her.”

“Yes. I’d do just about anything to get her off my back.”

Raising an eyebrow Piper glanced at Shanna, who was hiding behind her coffee cup, and asked. “Anything?”

“Well…” He paused studying her. “What are you thinking?”

“Nothing illegal.” She murmured, picking up his phone.

“That’s not reassuring.”

She smiled, pushing a few buttons. A few seconds later a frantic voice answered.

“Topher, Oh my God you have to come help me! There are these crazy cannibals everywhere. Can you come get me?” She yelped and a banging noise came from somewhere distant.

Piper glanced at her friends.

“What do you mean cannibals? April what’s going on?” Topher said snatching the phone from Piper’s hand.

“I don’t know. These people started attacking people and they tried to bite me, I just ran.” April sobbed. “Will you come get me, I’m scared?”

“Where are you exactly?” Piper broke in.

“Who’s that?” April asked her voice laced with jealousy.

“A friend, answer the question.”

“My apartment.”

“I’ll see what I can do, just hang tight.” Topher hung up.

“Do we believe her?”

“Uh guys, I’d say yes.” Shanna pointed to the TV.

On the screen were pictures of people fighting, many shuffling in nothing but hospital gowns. The pale sickly looking folks, were overpowering and tearing into anything that moved. Their faces were contorted in anger, as if furious with the world.

The news reporter, started talking. “This is coverage of what is currently happening all over the of the city of  Watertown. Officials are asking you to remain in your homes, or wherever you are currently located. No travel is advised. If you are trapped in your vehicle, try to stay put as military, police, and emergency personnel will find and help you.”

“Maybe we should just let the professionals help, April.” Shanna suggested.

Piper watched the TV, downtown was chaos. No one was obeying the advisory. The professionals were overwhelmed they weren’t prepared for this type of thing. There was no way they’d get to Stalker Girl before the crazies. She looked at Topher, “Your call. She’s your stalker.”

Topher watched the TV then looked at her. “What do you think?”

“I don’t think the police or whatever will get to her in time. But like I said it’s your call.”

He ran his hand over his face. “Damn it, let’s go get her.”

Staring at the TV Piper chewed on her lip. A woman jumped a police officer, biting his neck as two other men grabbed his arms. “Fine, but we need to make it fast.”

****

Before they crossed the bridge over eighty-one they could see plumes of smoke rising from all over the city. Shanna sucked in a gasp, from the back seat of Topher’s bronco. The street was eerily still for ten o’clock on a Sunday. The lights flashed a steady yellow all the way down Coffeen Street. A small compact car had been t-boned by a truck in front of the college blocking traffic. The passenger door hung open with no one inside, but a figure lay slumped over the steering wheel of the truck, the windshield a bloody spiderweb of cracks.

“Jesus.” Topher muttered, turning into the Ontario Village Parking lot.

“Upstairs or downstairs?” Piper asks, pulling attention back to the task at hand.

“Upstairs…” Topher trailed off, ahead of them several people milling around. There were probably ten of them. Some were in hospital gowns, others night clothes, and one naked. Topher rolled to a stop eyes darting around. Heads jerked toward the sound of the engine, faces contorting into sneers of rage, milky eyes flashing as they stumbled forward.

“Back up!” Piper slapped his arm pulling him out of his stupor. “Topher, back up!”

Shaking his head, Topher tossed the Bronco into gear and backed out of the drive. “How do we get to April?”

“I’m thinking.” Her eyes drifted to the upper story of the apartments then past them to the Home Depot behind the buildings. “Head over to Home Depot park and kill the engine.”

Peeling out Topher sped down the road and made the sharp turn into the road leading to the store. Killing the motor he turned to Piper. “Ok what now?”

“They were attracted to the noise it seems. So if we sneak in the back, just a quick in and out.”

“But she’s on the second floor, we’ll need rope or something.”

Piper rolled her eyes and jerked her thumb at the store.

Shanna leaned over the seat. “You’re going to loot Home Depot?”

“No.” Piper shot her friend a hurt look, then eyeballed the store. There were a few cars and trucks in the parking lot but the store looked empty. Someone had left the door propped open, which was very odd for a freezing March day. “Well maybe, but only if they refuse cash.”

Flopping back in the seat, Shanna moaned. “I can’t believe I’m your friend.”

Twisting in her seat Piper blew her a kiss. “You love me and you know it.” Not waiting for a reply Piper undid her seat belt and hopped out. Topher and Shanna followed more slowly. It was unnerving how the click- clack of Piper's stiletto boots was the only noise. Part of her wished she'd borrowed a pair of Shanna's sneakers, but the boots were her favorite; brown with red laces they looked like hiking boots except for the three inch heel. Granted they didn't do wonders for her aching knee.

As the three of them came closer to the door, Piper shifted her weight to the balls of her feet to reduce the noise. Peering inside the carnage surprised her, it reminded her of the zombie shooter games she and Topher had played.

A man in jeans and an orange vest lay on the floor, his throat ripped out blood down his chest. A man in pajamas shuffled up and down the electric section. He was covered in blood and had a vacant stare on his face. Near the door sat a crate of crowbars, quietly Piper grabbed one handed it to Topher then picked up two more giving one to Shanna.

“What do you expect me to do with this?” Shanna hissed, taking the bar.

“Hit things.” Piper hissed back before stepping into the building. She heard a whimper and turned to find two women huddling behind the customer service desk. One frantically waved her hands and pointed to the door. Piper waved back, striding into the building, her clicking heels and the sudden sound of her ringing cell catching the pajama man’s attention. He spun around and charge her, pale face, milky eyes, blood stained mouth and half his face missing. Choking up on the crowbar like a baseball bat, Piper planted her feet and swung catching the man in the chin. He flew backward, and landed with a wet crack on the cement floor.

“What the fuck, Piper?” Topher choked out, as the checkout girls cheered her on.

She turned a manic grin plastered on her lips. “It’s just like Chop ‘Til You Drop, T.” Piper looked at the checkout girls. “Any more in here?”

“Probably, we had a bunch of customers and other workers. Those nut jobs wandered in and started biting everybody.”

“Why are you even here, didn’t you see the news?” Shanna asked, still hovering in the doorway.

“Yeah, but our boss said that at times like this people try to reinforce their houses so it would be more profitable for us to come in. He offered us hazard pay, twice our usual.”

Piper shook her head, amazed at what people would do for money. “You might want to get home or somewhere safe.”

The girls nodded then scurried out of the building. Shanna watched them leave and asked, “What about us, shouldn’t we go home or somewhere safe?”

“First we have to get Stalker Girl, then I think we should go to my house.” Piper replied, clenching her crowbar and heading into the store.

Behind her Topher made a strangled noise and she turned the see the dude on the floor with no throat struggling to his feet. Stalking over she kicked it back down and stabbed the heel of her boot through it’s skull. “I’ve always wanted to do that.” She used her crowbar to pry the head off her heel.  

“Piper you’re really starting to freak me out.” Shanna told her, panic creeping into her voice her hazel eyes wide.

“Fine I’ll tone it down.” She rolled her eyes and turned back toward the store, mumbling under her breath. “Spoiled sports.”

Ducking down an aisle they found the rope without any other run in’s, much to Piper’s disappointment. Grabbing a large roll, they headed back out. Piper tossed a twenty on the counter, and looked to Shanna. “See no looting, I paid.”

Shanna just glared at her and jogged toward the parking lot, behind Topher.  Sighing Piper followed, catching up back at the Bronco. “Call Stalker Chick and ask her where her apartment is. Tell her to throw a towel or something over the railing so we know which one she’s in.”

“Stop calling her Stalker Chick, she has a name it’s April.” Topher muttered, pulling out his cell and dialing.

Piper ignored him pulling off her boots, she sat in the back seat with the door open playing with the rope. Shanna nervously looked around the empty parking lot, then toward the apartments.

“Shanna get in, you’ll be safer in the vehicle.” Piper said, watching Topher talk to April on the cell phone. After a moment’s hesitation she walked around and climbed in the other side.  

A moment later Topher clicked the phone off. “She’s hanging a towel off the balcony. Her building is over there, we can drive up behind it no problem.”

Piper closed her eyes for a moment, processing. “Here’s what we’re going to do, I’m going to hop on top and ride over to the apartment. Topher you need to drive, and take it easy. When we get there Shanna hands the rope up, I’ll climb up and help Stalker Chick down into the bronc. Quick and easy.”

Topher seemed to debate for a moment then nodded. Handing the rope to Shanna, Piper climbed out and shut the door, before scaling the side of the Bronco and flattening herself on the roof. In high school she had done this a couple times, flying down the backroads. Back then it had been exhilarating, it probably would be today as well if not for the crazy cannibals waiting it eat her if she fell off.

The driver side door slammed, the bronco came to life under her, and Topher called up. “Hang on, P, it’s gonna be a little bumpy.”

Piper scrambled for purchase as they began rolling across the parking lot. Her fingers dug into the side over the windows as her bare toes pushed against freezing metal. Thankfully the ride was short, Topher pulled to a stop under a balcony with a pink fluffy towel hanging over the banister. The back passenger side window rolled down and Shanna held up the rope. Peeling herself from the metal she grabbed the rope and stood stretching to her full five foot six inches she tied the rope to the bottom of the banister and clambered up. Heaving herself over the railing, she landed on her feet and her knee gave a dull ache of protest. Her phone buzzed against her butt. Ignoring the pain and the phone, she walked to the sliding doors and knocked gently. Inside she heard a slight shriek, then the door slid open. A short, skinny, brunette glare up at her.

“Who are you?” She spat, crossing arms that looked like toothpicks.

“I’m Piper, Topher’s friend.” Piper jerked a thumb over her shoulder. “He’s waiting for you.”

Her eyes lit up and she peered past Piper. “Really he came?” April asked, seeming suddenly shy.

Piper eyed her uncertainly. “Yeah, you need to pack anything…”

There was a banging on the front door and it cracked. April screamed again, pushed passed Piper on to the balcony. Calmly Piper slid the door shut and led April over to where she had tied the rope. “Can you climb down and slip in through the window?”

“I’ll try.”

Piper helped the other women over the railing, just as a bloody face smashed against the glass door. It’s teeth gnashed, as the person banged it’s ruined head against the door. Piper didn’t wait she hopped over the railing and dropped to the roof of the Bronco. She landed on her feet, managing to dented the roof as she did, shifting she slid into the passenger window.

Before her butt was even in the seat she cried, “Go!”

Topher sped away, spinning out and then fish tailing at the light. Piper closed her eyes, leaning back in her seat, they drove over the overpass and out of the city. Remembering her phone, Piper dug it out of her jeans pocket. The caller id said Mica and Piper hit the button to get the text. All it read was, “Dad was right.” There was also a missed call and voice mail, pressing a button she called up the message. After listening to her sister’s tearful rendition of how Mica had brained her foster dad, Piper looked at Topher. “Fuck. T, we need to make another stop.” Piper said, her fingers flying as she texted a reply to her sister.

Topher sent her a questioning look. “What?”

“I need to get Mica.”

“Your sister? But she should be safe with her foster family.” Shanna said from the backseat.

“She had to bash in her foster dad’s head to keep him from eating her and some other guy. Mica’s freaking, I have to go get her.” Piper twisted looking at her friend. “I already fail to keep her safe from that asshole, I’m not abandoning her during the fucking apocalypse.”

Shanna bit her lip and nodded, shrinking back in her seat.

“What’s the address?” Topher asked, his hands clenched on the wheel.

Chapter 2

They pulled up out front of a one story house with an attached garage. On the steps was a man with his head bashed in, blood painted the porch.

“Your sure this is the place?” Shanna asked, eyeing the corpse.

“Yeah.” Piper typed out a quick message to Mica, then climbed out of the Bronco. She’d put her heels back on, they clicked on the slush covered sidewalk. Cautiously she walked up the steps, holding on to her crowbar and looking around for nut jobs.  Keeping one eye on the dead guy she knocked, a second later the door swung open. Piper couldn’t help smiling at Mica, it had been awhile since they had seen each other. Her little sister now stood the same height as Piper, if she hadn’t been wearing heels. Mica’s long curly brownish gold hair was swept up into a ponytail, her big brown eyes taking in Piper’s appearance.

“You do that?” Piper asked nodding to the corpse on the steps.

“Just the brain bashing. The Altman’s don’t believe in guns.” Stepping back inside Mica grabbed her coat, backpack, and field hockey stick. She looked behind her at two guys standing in the entryway. “You coming or going to hang out here?”

They exchanged a glance then followed her out of the house.

“We’re full up.” Piper said, pointing to the Bronco idling in the driveway.  Movement down the street caught her eye. She chewed on her lip of a moment then said, “We’ll have to figure it out.”

The dark haired kid spoke up. “I’ll ride on the roof, but I ain’t staying here with the dead bodies.”

Piper grinned, “Trust me you don’t want to ride on the roof. Now come on let’s get going before those things hear us.”

They headed to the Bronco and after a little reorganizing everyone squeezed in. Jacob, the blond boy, was squished against one side of the vehicle with Mica on his lap. Piper found this amusing since her sister’s face was bright red and she refuse to look anywhere but out the windshield. Camden, the dark haired guy, was on the other end with Shanna on his lap. Both seemed pretty ok with the situation. While April was squished in the middle. It wasn’t ideal but there was little alternative and they were running out of time. Shambling forms seemed to be seeping out of the woodwork and heading in there direction. Piper hopped into the passenger seat, and Topher sped off just as a couple figures lurched out from behind a neighboring house.

“Think we should head for the bunker, and lay low until this blows over.” Piper told Topher grabbing the oh shit bar as he took a sharp turn.

Topher nodded, eyes on the road. “What about the boys?”

Piper turned slightly. “You two want us to drop you somewhere?” They shook their heads and Piper shrugged. “Guess their with us, for the time being.”

Mica piped up, “I thought you sold the bunker.”

Piper looked back at Mica. “Couldn’t do it. I figured you needed somewhere to go once you were ready. Besides it’s home.”

Mica looked to be about to say something else, then her eyes widened. Topher yelled, brakes squealed and the bronco turned. Piper held on for dear life as the bronco tipped up on two tires, hanging for just a moment then slammed down on it’s side. Closing her eyes, she felt glass shatter over her as the door connected with the pavement. Her head bounced off the door frame, leaving her dazed. From the backseat came screams, and cries of pain. Blinking Piper tried to pull the world into focus. Pain wracked her body, her right side aching from the impact with the plastic and metal.

Her mind flashed back to another accident, and she began to shake. “Mica!” Piper’s voice cracked, as she frantically tugged at her seat-belt. This wasn’t happening, not again. She needed to calm down and assess the situation. With a huge effort she forced herself to stop panicking.

The bronco lay on the passenger side, beside her Topher hung in his seat belt fighting to get the stubborn metal to unlatch. When he did, she realized, he was going to fall right on her.  “Topher wait.”

He paused in his struggle and looked at her. “What?”

She swallowed. “Let me move first or you’re going to fall on me.”

“Hurry, this fucking hurts.”

She nodded, and quickly removed her seat-belt twisting she looked into the back. The back door was open, Mica and Jacob had already climbed out. They knelt on the side of the vehicle, helping April out. Jacob seemed to be favoring his right hand, but otherwise neither seemed to be hurt. As Shanna and Camden climbed out, Piper scrambled over the seats. Pulling herself out the open door, behind her she heard Topher drop to his feet then follow her out of the bronco. Everyone crowded on the side of the ruined vehicle, looking down at the creatures trying desperately to reach them.  

“Fuck.” Piper swore, looking at the three zombies. The huge cab kept the group out of reach for now, but more would come. With a groan, she dropped back into the bronco and began rummaging through everything that had gone flying in the accident. Finding Mica’s field hockey stick she, called. “Mica, here.” Handing it to the younger woman when her face appeared in the door. She added, “take these too.” Finding two of the crowbars.

Mica took them, then asked. “Do you see my backpack? I’ve got some stuff in there that might be helpful.”

Piper turned back shuffling stuff around, and found Mica’s backpack stuck under the seat. From outside she heard the sounds of a scuffle. Climbing out she found Mica, on the ground bashing out the brains of one zombie. Jacob had taken out a second with a crowbar, and Topher was finishing off the third. Looking around she noticed that the sounds of the accident had gain the attention of more than just the three. Figures shambled and stumbled toward them, far to many to fight off. Forcing her addled brain to work, she took in where they were, it wasn’t to far from the factory she worked at. They could go there, take stock of injures and regroup.

Jumping down she tilted in her heels then righted herself. These things would have to go, she needed better footwear. “Come on, I know where we can go.” She called, waving to the others to follow her. Turning down a side street she had never been so happy to see the metal building in her life.

Mica jogged next to her, in a winded voice asked. “The bathing suit factory?”

“It’s sound.” Piper gasped, skidding to a stop in front of the heavy steel door. Pulling out her keys she unlocked the door and ushered everyone in. Re-locking the door she walked over and deactivated the alarm, then flicked on the lights. She looked over the group, they looked shell shocked. Shanna and April huddled close to Topher. Camden stared absently into space. Jacob cradled his right arm against his stomach face pinched in pain. Mica held her field hockey stick, looking out the window and bouncing on the balls of her feet like a prizefighter. “Anybody hurt?”

Jacob grimaced, “I messed up my wrist.”

“Anyone else?” Heads shook, but no one spoke. “Ok, Shanna, Stalker Chick go into the break room, grab the first aid kit take care of everyone’s cuts. When you’re done getting bandaged Camden, Topher grab some of those machines and put them against the emergency doors. Jacob sit, so I can look at your wrist. Mica go look around and see if you can find anything useful.” Slowly they all moved to do as they were told.

Piper grabbed Mica’s arm, “Look on the tables next to the machines and in drawers, some of the women have wrist braces we can use to splint his arm.”

Mica nodded then weaved between the rows of machines, head down rummaging through stuff. Piper turned back to Jacob and pointed to the chair behind the desk. “Sit and lets see that wrist.”

He did as she commanded, carefully pushing up his jacket sleeve. The wrist was swollen, and a little purple. Jacob hissed when she touched it. “Can you move it?” With a groan of agony he move his hand up and down. “I think, and I’m not a doctor, but I think you just sprained it. Hang on, I’ll go get some ibuprofen and ice. Mica’s looking for a splint or something.”

“You and Mica seem to be pretty calm for the apocalypse.” Jacob said, as she stood.

Piper gave him a smile. “I’ll freak out later.” She left Jacob by the desk and headed for the break room. Shanna had just finished bandaging Camden and looked up at her as she entered.

“Want me to take care of that cut on your head?” Shanna asked, picking through the first aid kit in front of her.

Piper touched the sore spot, where her head had connected with the door. Her fingers came away with blood on them. Sighing, Piper replied. “Not right now, let me finish taking care of Jacob. I think his wrist is sprained. Is there any ibuprofen in there?”

Shanna held out a small packet, “Are you sure you’re ok? You don’t have a concussion, do you?”

“I have no idea.” Piper took the packet and retrieved an ice pack from the freezer of the break room fridge. “I have a hella headache, hurt everywhere and feel as though my knees going to give out at any moment. The thing is after what we saw on the news I not going anywhere near the hospital until this blows over.”

Shanna nodded, “Let me know when you’re ready to get bandaged up. I think you and Jacob got the brunt of the accident since you guys were on that side.”

“Yeah. Hey bring that out if you’re done, you can bandage up Jacob. He’s got some cuts on his face.”

Snapping the kit shut Shanna followed Piper out to where Jacob sat. He cracked an eye open when they approached.

Mica hustled over carrying a couple different braces. “I wasn’t sure which would fit. Why are there so many in here in the first place?”

Piper ripped open the painkillers and dumped them into Jacob’s hand. “There should be a bottle of water in the bottom drawer, if you need it.” Turning to Mica she took the braces. “Many of the women who’ve worked here awhile have carpal tunnel syndrome, from sewing. The braces help with the pain.” Selecting the largest she looked at Jacob’s wrist the purple had darkened and the swelling wasn’t going down. “Kay this might hurt but you’re better off with the brace on to keep it stable, just in case.”

Jacob nodded, “It’s ok. I broke my arm once and it felt a lot worst than this, so do what you gotta.”

Piper bit her lip and gently pulled the brace over his hand on to his wrist. Jacob hissed in pain as she tightened it down. When done she handed him the ice pack, he placed it over the wrist. “Shanna will take care of those cuts on your face.”

Piper ducked into the bathroom and looked in the mirror. She had a cut just above her right eyebrow, and a gash on the side of her head near the hairline along with a nasty bruise. Behind her the door opened and Mica entered carrying the first aid kit. “There’s not much left, but some of the machines have band-aids if you need more.”

“Thanks.” Piper muttered. Yanking a bunch of paper towels from the roll, Piper wet them and washed the blood from her face.

Mica set the kit on the sink, in front of Piper. “You work here, right?”

Piper nodded, “Yeah I’m the administrative assistant.”

“What about school?”

“Night classes, and online.” Putting antibacterial cream on her cut, she added. “Getting a job looked good and it helped pay the bills.”

Mica climbed up on the sink beside Piper’s. “Looked good?”

“I’ve been trying to get custody of you since mom and dad died.”

Mica drew a deep breath and hung her head. “I know.”

Piper decided to changed the subject. “Did you get hurt in the accident?”

“Just banged my head on the roof. Jacob took the brunt of the fall, he cushioned me.” A ghost of a smile crossed Mica’s face.

The door to the bathroom popped open and Shanna stuck her head in. “Need any help?”

“No, thanks. Mica’s got it. Why don’t you and Stalker Chick raid the fridge. Some of the girls tend to leave stuff, maybe there’ll be something to eat.”

“Ok.” Shanna left.

After the door shut, Mica said. “You’re giving them busy work?”

“Yeah, something to keep their minds from wandering.”

“Do you have a plan?”

Piper glanced at Mica. “I’m working on it.”

Mica swung her legs back and forth. “So what have you got so far?”

Piper sighed and propped her hip against the sink. “There’s an old truck down by the loading bay, if we can get to that we’ll have transportation and can get the hell outta here.”

Mica chewed on her lip for a moment. “We’re going to need weapons. I noticed these long sharp looking hook things.”

Nodding Piper said, “Beaders we use them to put beads on the strings for the suits.”

“Whatever.” Mica rolled her eyes. “Anyway if we attached those to a couple brooms, they’d make nice spears. Jab to the eye socket and those suckers go down.” She hopped off the sink and mimed stabbing something with a spear.

Piper sighed again. “Better than trying to make slingshots out of the string bikinis.”

Mica chuckled and hopped down from the sink, as Piper snapped the first aid kit shut.  “Did you ever think Dad was going to be right?”

Piper shook her head exiting the bathroom. “I hoped not.” With a sad smile, she tossed her arm over Mica’s shoulders and headed for the break room. It looked as though Shanna and Stalker Chick had managed to find sandwich makings and stuff to drink.

Shanna pushed two paper plates toward them as they approached. “Made you each a sandwich too. Hope you like ham, it’s all that was in the fridge.”

Mica squished up her nose but took a plate anyway. “Thanks.” She hopped up on the counter behind the table, and began eating. Piper flopped down in an empty chair at the table. As soon as her weight was off her feet they began to throb, along with her bad knee. A tiny groan of pain escaped her lips, with a grimace she reached down and rubbed her knee.

“Hey, Piper, I found something for you.” Topher held up a pair of orange Crocs.  

Piper shot him a glare, as Mica giggled from her perch.

“What? You can barely walk in those heels. I don’t know how you ran up that hill out there. Not to mention your knee must be killing you. I thought these would help.”

She had to admit the ugly things would be easier to walk in and probably run in. “Fine,” She conceded. “Give them here.”

Topher handed her the shoes. With a resigned sigh, she undid the laces on her boots and kicked them off. The pain in her feet lessened immediately, and Piper wiggled her toes before slipping the Crocs on.

“So what’s the plan?” Topher asked looking at Piper.

Pushing the plate and sandwich away she replied, “There’s a truck by the loading dock. We can take it to the bunker, but some of you will have to ride in the back.”

“Which means we’ll need weapons,” Mica added. “Just in case.”

Piper leaned back in the chair. “Tell them your idea.”

All eyes turned toward Mica.

“We make spears out of the brooms and those hook thingy’s I found. Attach the hooks to the brooms with some duct tape or something. A good stab to the eye socket and the zombie goes down.”

Stalker Chick shook her head. “You two are nuts. I say we wait here until help comes.”

“Um, judging from what we saw on TV, I don’t think helps coming.” Camden said, glancing around.

Everyone was silent for a moment then Shanna spoke up. “I think we should go to Piper’s place. At least there we’ll be safe.”

Topher nodded in agreement. “I don’t know a safer place than the bunker.”

Mica piped up,“I want to go home.”

“What about you two?” Piper asked.

Camden and Jacob exchanged a glance. “It’s already four against three, so let’s just get the show on the road.”

“All righty then. Mica why don’t you and Shanna scrounge up the stuff to make those spears. Topher and I will access the truck situation.”

Dusting crumbs from her pants, Mica jumped off the counter and headed out of the break room with Shanna following.

“So what should we do?” Jacob asked.

“You rest. Camden wanna help the girls?” Piper replied standing.

Nodding, Camden got up and took off. Topher stood, and followed Piper out of the break room. She lead him toward the doors where they had entered. Next to a large roll up door hung a key ring, Piper grabbed it then peered out the door they had come in. One lone zombie stood in the parking lot.

Piper closed her eyes then opened them, pressing her cheek against the glass to see the pick up. It sat in it’s normal spot, backed right next to the roll up door. Topher bumped against her back as he peered over her head to see what was going on.

“I think we should get everyone together, and make a run for it.” Topher whispered in her ear.

Piper nodded, unable to come up with something better.

Mica popped up behind them. “We’re ready when you are.”

Piper turned toward her. “Really?”

“Yeah we only had to make three, everyone else already had something.”

“Then go get everybody else and we’ll get moving before more of those things show up.”

Chapter 3

Piper quietly lead everyone out of the building. They had only gone a few feet, when the single zombie turned and lumbered toward them. Mica nudged Piper forward toward the pickup, saying, “I got this.”

Before Piper could argue, Mica stalked toward the man. If it wasn’t for the snarling vacant stare Piper would have thought the guy had just stumbled out of bed. Turning her attention back to the truck she wrenched open the driver’s door, and hopped in. A wet meaty thunk sounded just as the engine roared to life. Shanna and Stalker Chick clamored in the passenger side. Topher, and the three teens climbed in the bed of the truck. Piper glanced into the rear view mirror, and stomped on the gas when Mica gave her a thumbs up. Speeding out of the parking lot and down the side street. Not even bothering to stop for the stop sign she turned the corner. Whizzing over the bridge and out of town, finally slowing only when they hit the empty back roads.

Twenty minutes and a lot of turning twisty roads later, Piper eased the truck down a long driveway. As the house came into view Stalker Chick scoffed, “This is better than where we were?”

“A thousand times better, April.” Shanna replied, staring at the run down farm house.

The two story farm house was gray and drab, with a saggy pouch.  Piper could understand how Stalker Chick, would be skeptical. She had no idea that the walls and doors were reinforced or that the windows were bulletproof glass.

Piper eased the truck to a stop, killing the engine, she climbed out. Mica and Topher hopped over the side of the truck box. Everyone else slowly emerged from the vehicle, moving cautiously. Striding across the slush covered yard, Piper jumped up on the porch and unlocked the front door. The others darted in house as if the devil himself was chasing them, even though the area looked clear. Following she pulled the door shut and bolted it.

“Anyone with zombie gunk on them go to the kitchen.” Piper barked, looking pointedly at Topher and Mica. They obeyed, tiptoeing through the living room to kitchen. “Mica you’re the grossest so go get cleaned up first.” The younger women gave a quick nod, and kept going toward the bathroom. Piper joined Topher in the kitchen, then turned back toward the others. “Shanna would you run upstairs and find us some clean clothes, please?”

“Sure.” Shanna replied, and took off up the stairs.

April flopped down on the couch crossing her arms. “So why’s this place so special?”

“The windows are bullet proof glass, the doors reinforced steel and the walls are reinforced too. We have enough food stuffs to keep us going for at least a year. Special enough, Stalker Chick?”

The woman’s lips narrowed into a tight line, but she kept quiet.

“So you’re a survivalist or something?” Camden asked.

“My dad was a prepper and my mom was into extreme couponing. Lucky for you guys.” Piper snarked, in reply.

Camden ignored her tone and asked, “What was he preparing for?”

“Zombie apocalypse or nuclear fallout, whichever came first.”

Topher shook his head. “To bad the old man can’t see he was right.”

Chapter 4

Piper sat on the porch wrapped in her coat and a fleece blanket. She felt a hundred percent better after a shower. Staring down the pitch black driveway she didn’t bother turning when the door behind her opened.

“Jesus it’s cold out here. What the hell are you doing?” Topher asked, stepping toward her.

“Nothing.” She murmured, picking up the tumbler from the table next to her and draining it.

“What’s that?” Topher asked, sitting down in the other chair beside the table.

“Dad’s special brew.” She picked up a mason jar on the table and poured some of the clear liquid into her glass, then handed the jar to him.

He sniffed then took a small sip. Instantly he began coughing. “Oh my God! That’s awful and strong.”

“It’s got multiple uses. Fire starter, fuel for alcohol stoves, sterilizing wounds, Molotov cocktails, and knocking you on your ass.” Lifting her glass she took a healthy swig.

“No wonder you can drink abstinent like water.” He took another tentative sip and coughed again.

They sat in silence for a few minutes then Piper asked, “Anything new on the TV?”

“No same as before. Folks get sick, croak, come back, bite people and so on.”

“Any word from your parents?”

“No, phone lines are jammed. They probably went to Uncle Ben’s, we’re better off here.”

Piper nodded, “I think I’ll run to town tomorrow and get a few things we need.”

Topher gave her a stunned look. “What could we possibly need?”

“Medicine mostly. There’s a pharmacy in Adam’s, along with a dentist and vet, best to hit them before others start to raid places.”

“Fine. We’ll go check those places out in the morning.”

They lapse back into silence, staring down the long dark driveway.

****

Piper glanced back at the house as she pushed the old motorcycle down the drive. She’d done this many times sneaking out on her parents so she knew that no one would hear if she started it down the road a bit. Seeing no one stirring she turned back to the driveway and yanked the bike to a stop.

Mica stood blocking her path, arms folded. “What are you doing?” She demanded, stepping toward Piper.

“Going to get the few things we don’t have. Medicine, mostly, before people get smart and start taking things other than narcotics and painkillers.”

Mica chewed on her bottom lip for a moment then said, “I’ll go with you.”

“No. I need you here. I don’t trust the newbies. If it was just Topher and Shanna, I’d say yes, but those other guys not so much.”

Mica nodded, her gaze drifting to the still house behind them. “You’re right. What about taking Topher?”

Piper shook her head. “I’ll be faster alone.”

Mica snorted, “I’m sure those were the famous last line of someone in a zombie movie.”

Piper grinned and pulled her sister in for a hug. “I’ll be careful, promise.”

“I’m holding you to that.”

Letting Mica go Piper pushed the old bike down the drive and on to the road. When she was far enough away she got on and started the engine. The throaty purr of the engine, soothed her. The motorcycle, a 1942 Indian 741, had been her great grandfather’s, supposedly from WWII. It was still in great shape even after all these years, painted black with a star on the gas tank. She’d loved riding the thing and had learned how to maintain the mechanics from her Dad. With determination she drove down the winding back roads. Her first stop was in Adam’s Center, the old vet clinic would be a good place to stop and see what she could find. Not only did very few people know about the place, but they probably wouldn’t think of veterinarian to get meds from.

****

Pulling into the veterinarian’s driveway she looked around, before shutting off the the bike. On her way here she’d noticed people casting quick glances from behind curtains and shades. She’d also been chased by the shambling undead. Not that they could keep up with the motorcycle, but it had still been unnerving. Getting off the bike she eyed the silent house, then the small building at the end of the driveway. The door to the clinic stood ajar, making Piper’s already nervous stomach clench. Taking her pistol from its holster she made her way slowly to the door.

Pushing it open cautiously she enter the pale green waiting room, with old crack linoleum and equally old hard plastic chairs. A counter ran part of the length of the far wall, with two doors behind it. From what she remembered one door was for entrance to the exam room and the other was the exit. She had to go through the exam room to get to the back where the medicine, and other stuff was kept. Crossing to the closest door, Piper gingerly pushed it open and edged into the room.

A low growl froze her mid-step. A large German Shepard stood teeth bared, hackles raised over the still twitching body of the old vet. The dogs brown and black fur was stained with blood across its muzzle, down it’s chest, as well as it’s front legs and paws. Piper swallowed a gasps as she noticed the veterinarian’s body had been mauled and lay in a thick rust colored pool, yet still moved. One milky eye fixed on her and it’s near flesh-less jaws snapped uselessly at air. The dog growled again, deep and menacing, showing more sharp blood stained teeth. Swallowing down the bile rising in her throat Piper aimed the twenty two pistol at the dog, waiting for it to attack. Instead the creature sniffed the air, whimpered, tail curling between it’s legs and began to back up. A moment later it turned and bolted out the exit door.

Letting out a sigh Piper lowered her weapon and looked around for something to put the old doctor out of his misery. Finding a wooden broom, she pushed the rounded end through his temple. “Sorry, Doctor T,” She whispered, applying all her strength to the task. When the body stopped moving, she let go winching as the wood hit the cement floor with a crack. After a moment of silence for the veterinarian who had taken care of so many of her pets, she moved to the back room. One wall was lined with empty cages, on the left stood a huge dog crate with it’s door mangled. To the right on the far side of the room stood a metal case and on the wall not two feet away hung a key ring.

As she passed the wall of cages a small whimper caught her attention. A tiny puppy huddle in one of the cages. It scampered toward the wire door as she approached, looking up at her hopefully. The puppy didn’t look old enough to be away from it’s mother. Unlocking the cage she picked it up, almost engulfing it with her hand. It looked like a little stuffed animal, yet wiggled and licked her thumb. There was no way the tiny creature would survive on it own. Unzipping her coat, Piper put the puppy in her inside pocket. It wiggled and squirmed, then finally settled down.

Zipping her coat back up, she hurried to the cabinet and grabbed the key. Opening the metal door, she grabbed anything she recognized, filling her saddle bag with all it could handle. On her way out she grabbed a small bag of puppy food. Exiting the clinic she made her way to the motorcycle, strapped the dog food to the back, attached her saddlebag and got on. On stop down, one to go.

Chapter 5

“Where is she?” Topher demanded storming into the barn.

Mica didn’t even pause in delivering jabs to the punching bag as she asked, “Who exactly? There are several she’s around here.”

“Mica,” he growled, grabbing the bag.

“I’m right here,” Mica replied, shooting him an innocent look.

Topher closed his eyes, seemed to be collecting himself and said, “Where is your sister, Piper?”

“Oh her. Went to town for some medicine.”

“By herself?”

“Uh yeah.” Mica rolled her eyes and gave the bag a hard punch. “She has a radio and will call if she gets in trouble.”

“Really?” Topher scoffed, “What if she goes off the road and ends up with one of those things having her for dinner.”

“Your faith in my sister is overwhelming,” Mica snarked back. She stepped away from the bag and stripped off her gloves. “That won’t happen.”

“I hope your right.” Topher barked over his shoulder as he stormed back out. Mica stuck her tongue out at his retreating back. When the door slammed shut, she heaved a sigh and hoped she was right too.

*****

Piper stopped the bike several feet from the makeshift road block. Two large pick-ups had been parked nose to nose a crossed the street. A large man in leather and denim climbed out, shotgun slung on his shoulder. He gazed at her for a moment, then yelled, “What’s yer business?”

Piper returned the look for a moment, and clenched her jaw. She really didn’t want to play her cards just yet, but she already could tell this guy was going to force the issue. Reluctantly she called back, “I’m looking for Gavin. He usually hangs out at the bar.” She pointed toward the building a few feet away.

The guy gave her the hairy eyeball for a few more seconds, then leaned into the truck. The other guy sitting in the cab, hopped out and ran over to the building. The burly biker leaned against the truck and watched her. After a minute or two Piper began to wonder if Gavin was even here. Just as she was getting ready to say screw it and go the long way around, the door to the bar flew open and Gavin strode out.

A smile tugged on her lips, as the young biker strode toward her. He was dressed in leather chaps over a pair of worn jeans, topped with a heavy leather jacket. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” He admonished, as he got closer.

“Oh, you know. Running errands, killing zombies, saving dogs… the usual.” She gave him a sweet smile. “Now will you tell King Kong to move so I can get through?”

“Not until you tell me where you think you’re going.” He crossed his arms over his chest, but she noted the tiny smile he suppressed.

She huffed out a sigh, “Kinney’s.”

“Why?”

“Antibiotics.”

He rubbed the stubble in his chin, studying her. “Fine, but I go with and we share whatever we find.”

Piper wrinkled her nose. “You can come, if you want, and take whatever. As far as I know it’s still a free country. Just hurry your ass up, I’m wasting gas.”

Gavin chuckled, turned, nodded to the guy in the truck and headed toward the bikes in front of the bar. The truck roared to life and backed out of her way. Piper shot through the opening and passed Gavin who was getting his own ride. Only to be stopped a few miles down the road by another blockade which didn’t move until Gavin rode up behind her. She shot a quick glare at him, then darted between the trucks. Gunning the engine she buzzed down the road, ignoring the hunk on the cycle beside her. Piper’s attention was on the homes along the road and what they could be hiding. Her guard rose as they passed the school which looked as though people had barricaded the doors only to abandon it. Slowing they pulled into the store’s parking lot which was surprisingly empty. Piper gestured for Gavin to follow her around back, the store would hide the bikes from any prying eyes that passed by. Parking the bikes, she grabbed the empty bags and looked around. Snow still lay in piles from where it had been plowed from the parking area. The parking lot was covered in a layer of grimy slush. The grassy area between the tractor store and the drug store was slushy and muddy but they could use it to make a quick escape if need be.

“So what’s the plan? Do we just walk in and say I need some meds?”

Piper shrugged, “I’m playing this by ear.” Tugging her jacket away from her she checked on the puppy. Seeing he was curled up in her pocket, she turned and walked around the building to the front doors. The outside doors seemed jammed open, and the inside turned off. Gavin grabbed one side, and she took the other pulling them open. Piper took a deep breath, sniffing for any sign of rot or decay. The bright overhead lights were on yet she didn’t see or hear anyone or thing in the store. Slowly entering she carefully started moving toward the back of the store, where a large sign proclaimed Pharmacy. Gavin followed warily looking around, gun drawn. Taking the card aisle, she approached the pharmacy counter. The sound of a shotgun racking, had her back peddling as a man in a white lab-coat and glasses stepped from the shelves with a twelve gauge pointed at them.

“What do you want?” He asked, and Piper noticed a tremor in his voice.

“Just some med.” Piper replied, raising her hands. “Some antibiotics, and painkillers. Stuff to get us by in case this doesn’t straighten out.”

The guy lowered the gun. “You don’t want to rob me?”

“No, we were only going to take what we needed for our groups.”

The guy studied them, as if having an internal debate then set the gun aside and waved them closer. “What do you need?”

“Like I said, antibiotics and painkillers.” Piper replied, setting the bags on the counter.

“That all. No birth control?” His eyes danced between her and Gavin.

She glanced back at the leather clad man, who grinned at her and waggled his eyebrows suggestively. “No birth control.”

“You wound me.” Gavin muttered.

Piper rolled her eyes, and the pharmacist chuckled taking the bags and moving between the shelves dumping bottles into them.  As he did Piper walked to the back shelf and located some puppy chow, grabbing a bag she also tucked a few cans in her pockets. Returning to the counter she asked, “How much do we owe you?”

The pharmacist set the bags on the counter and waved her question away. “Nothing. The store has insurance and I’m sure we’ll be looted before this is over. If it doesn’t end… well you’ll need it more than the looters, I suppose.”

“Thank you.” She replied, tossing a bag to Gavin and taking her own. The sound of revving engines had her spinning toward the door.

Gavin cursed. “Is there a back door?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“Well those a four wheeler engines and the good ole’ boys around here aren’t crazy about us bikers taking over Adam’s Center.”

The guy nodded in understanding and lead them to the doors to the store room. Quickly walking through he pushed open a backdoor which let them out right next to their bikes. “I’ll keep them busy so you guys can go.”

“Thanks again.” Piper said, putting on her helmet and hopping on her bike. Luckily the sounds of engines, along with hooting and hollering drowned out the sound of their motorcycles as they zoomed a crossed the muddy lot between the stores then out onto the road. No one bothered to follow them as they drove toward Adams Center. When they reached a side road, Piper waved to Gavin and took the turn. She knew the road would let her bypass the blockade and bring her out across from where she wanted to be. The country road, was tree lined and the shadows had allowed the snow to stay on the road, instead of melting like it had on the main road. Taking the curves as fast as she dared, on the slipper cement, and eyeing every house along the way.

Piper groaned when she reached the end of the road, and Gavin sat straddling his bike, next to the stop sign. “What took you so long?” He called and Piper gave him the finger not bothering to stop.

****

Mica ran to the door and looked out, when she heard the roar of the motorcycle. Piper pulled into the yard followed by a man on a bigger bike. Getting off the motorcycle Piper grabbed her bags and stomped toward the house. The guy pulled his cycle up beside Piper’s, killed the engine and followed. Pushing the door open, Mica let Piper entered. “What’ Gavin doing here?

“Not staying.”

“Okey dokey.” Mica murmured eyeing the biker.  

“Here take this little guy to the kitchen and get him settled.” Piper said, removing the puppy from her coat and handing him to Mica.

“Aww,” she cooed taking the wriggling mass of fur. “Where’d you pick him up?”

“Vet’s office. Little guy was in a cage in the back.”

“How’d they fit Gavin in one of those cages?” Mica asked, cradling the puppy to her chest.

Piper grinned at her, flopping the saddle bags over Mica’s shoulder. “Puppy chow is in there. I have to go deal with an annoying biker.”

“Uh huh, he’s saying in your room. We’re full up everywhere else.” Mica said, turning toward the kitchen with the puppy and bags.

“He’s not staying!” Piper called after her.

“I think the lady doth protest too much.” Mica yelled back heading for the kitchen.

Chapter 6

Piper shivered, wishing she’d grabbed a coat to put over her sweatshirt before coming out for watch. Even though May had been unseasonably warm, the early mornings were chilly and the thick fog wasn’t helping matters. Gavin reached over and wrapped his arm around her, pulling her close. They sat on the porch roof, looking out toward the road. With binoculars they could see as far as the highway, and watch the waves of zombies drifting away from Watertown. So far they had been lucky and only a few stragglers had stumbled their way.

Today the fog was so thick they could only see a few feet beyond the roof’s edge. Piper didn’t like the lack of visibility. She raised the binoculars to her eyes, but all she could make out where dark shifting shapes in the mist. It was impossible to tell trees from animals or zombies. These living dead didn’t even have the courtesy to moan. Lowering the binoculars she frowned and squinted into the fog. Some of the shapes seemed to be getting closer.

“I think we need to get everyone in the bunker.” She murmured, watching as a roughly humanoid shape stumbled toward the road fell and struggled back up. Picking up the walkies-talkie from the roof she keyed the mic, “Mica get everyone downstairs. This is not a drill.”

“Roger.” Was the quick reply.

The fog parted for a moment and they could see the field across the road from the house. At least twenty zombies stumbled and lurched over the muddy ground and even more figures moved behind them. This wave was headed right for them.

Gavin tugged on her shoulder, “Come on let’s get downstairs.”

She nodded, as he raised the window behind them and clamored inside, Piper followed a second later. They ran downstairs, double checking rooms as they went to make sure everyone had already gone down to the bunker. In the basement, Piper pushed Gavin ahead of her through the reinforced steel door leading to the underground bunker then yanked it shut behind her. The bunker wasn’t pretty in the least made from three old school buses, culvert pipe and cement block. It had been built for their family of four to ride out a nuclear blast should the power plant ever go. Industrial grade steel pipe lead from the house forming a hallway of sorts to the converted buses. Created from two short buses and one long bus, they had been put in the ground to form a T and welded together. Another pipe hallway lead from the end of the long bus to a rabbit hole in the barn for an escape hatch.

The long bus held the living area, kitchen and a tiny bathroom, a toilet now sitting where the driver’s seat had been. One short bus held sleeping bunks and a changing area. The other a radio room, and surveillance set up. Stepping into the surveillance room, Piper found Mica already seated in the chair with the screens on. Even though the power had gone out weeks ago, they were able to run off the solar panels and windmill.

“Head count?” Piper asked standing behind Mica and peering at the screens.

“All accounted for and bitching.” Mica replied.

“Language.”

“You’re one to talk.”

Gavin chuckled sinking down into the chair next to Mica, and getting a frown from Piper. On the camera pointed toward the front yard figures started to stumble by. Transfixed they watched as the wave of zombies washed over them. The creatures bumped into one another and the house as they shuffled.

“There are so many of them. Where are they coming from?” Mica asked, looking up at Piper.

Shrugging and shaking her head, Piper replied, “The city I guess.”

“I didn’t think Watertown was that big.” Gavin added, his eyes never leaving the screens.

“About thirty thousand people, not counting anyone there shopping or at the hospital.” Piper chewed on the inside of her lip and shook her head. “It’s Fort Drum. They would have turned it into a shelter, taking survivors there from the smaller towns and villages. They were sitting ducks.”

“You think Fort Drum go overrun by the zombies?” Topher asked from the doorway.

Piper jumped and puffed out a sigh. “Don’t do that. Yeah.” She turned back to the screens and pointed, “There are several wearing fatigues. It’s hard to tell with the decay, but even some wearing normal clothes kinda look like GI’s.”

“That’s not good. It means this thing isn’t going to end soon, doesn’t it?” Topher asked, moving closer to look at the screens.

“It means this really is the fucking zombie apocalypse and you need to get with the program.” Mica replied.

“Language.” Piper barked but didn’t correct her little sister beyond that. It was the fucking zombie apocalypse she’d known that when she’d put her stiletto through the skull of the Home Depot guy over a month ago.

Chapter 7

Piper let the radio scan through the stations, she hadn’t heard any sort of broadcast in days. Picking up the mic she decided to give it one last try before shutting down. Keying the mic she said, “Is anyone out there? If you can hear me, please reply.” Pausing she looked around, then added, “Is anyone still alive out there? I just want to know that we’re not alone.” Piper winced at the desperation in her voice. The waves of zombies had slowed to a trickle, yet they had been reluctant to leave the farm. The few trips she and Gavin had chanced to Adams had resulted in very little. Her father hadn’t planned for a group this big bugging in, and even with rationing supplies had started to dwindle.

The radio crackled startling her, then she heard. “You’re not alone.”

Someone was out there, and had survived this long. In her excitement to reply she dropped the mic and had to fumble to pick it back up. “Thank the Goddess. My names Piper I’m with a few friend just North of Adams Center. You?”

The reply came back quick. “Name’s Lyric. We’re located up by Eagle Bay.”

“That’s way up there, past Old Forged, right?”

“Yeah.”

Piper’s stomach tumbled, “Have you seen anyone else?”

“Just some religious nuts, they tried to attack us last night.”

Her hopes deflated, “Really? So we don’t just have to worry about zombies trying to eat us.”

“Yeah, the zombies I can deal with. The nut jobs with guns, I’m not crazy about. Of course it’s easy when they don’t fight back.”

A laugh bubbled out of Piper’s throat. “True. We’ve been hit hard down here. The zombies are moving out of the city, Watertown that is, they’ve been hitting us in waves. Big waves.”

“Sorry to hear that, will you be ok?”

“Not sure.” Piper’s worries suddenly poured out now that she had someone outside of the group to talk to. “Supplies are dwindling and we’ve been talking of heading to one of those fancy islands out by Alex Bay. Know where that is?”

“Yeah, I know where you’re talking about. Won’t most those places be shut up? I mean it wasn’t exactly warm when this thing went down, and most those places are summer houses.”

“That’s what we’re hoping. We’ll have to find a marina to get a boat, but at least out in the water no zombies.”

“Until the river freezes and they can walk over.”

“I’m hoping they’re all goop before that happens.”

“Do you know what’s going on with those things?”

“Only what the news and internet said, before they went down. It was a terrorist attack that backfired going global. They infiltrated meat packing plants and infected the meat with a mutated strain of the Ebola virus. Just before the internet went down we caught some talk of the virus mutating again, but I’m not a scientist.”

“Same here.” There was a pause then Lyric added, “We think that the newer zombies might have mutated to be more hostile and last longer than the original ones.”

Piper was silent for a moment. “Ok, are you studying them or something?”

“No, just an observation.” Lyric paused again. “I’m going to get off now, but if you want to talk later or tomorrow I’ll try to catch you.”

Piper felt a pang of disappointment, but tramped it down. “Sure, how about around the same time tomorrow?”

“Ok. Talk to you then.” Came the reply.

Piper jotted down the frequency they’d been using then, turned off the equipment.  Lyric had given her a lot to think about. Heading out of the bunker, Piper’s eyes scanned the shelves of the cellar. No matter how much they rationed, the food wouldn’t last. The garden would help, if it grew and they canned. Maybe they could find some abandoned farm animals, at the nearby farms. Piper drew in a breath and let it out slowly. The plan just hadn’t been for this many people. Twice as many people, meant supplies diminished twice as fast.

The sound of motors grabbed Piper’s attention, from upstairs Mica called, “We have company.”

Jogging up the stairs, she found everyone in the living room peering out the windows.

“It’s some of the local yolkes from Adams.” Gavin said, glancing at her then back out the window.

Piper squeezed in next to him, peeking out the window. “They’re tearing up the yard. What do they want?”

Probably raiding houses looking for supplies.” Topher muttered from a crossed the room.

“Why are they being so loud? Aren’t they afraid those things will hear?” Shanna asked.

“They’re cocky.” Gavin replied.

“Weapons guy.” Piper barked, “We need to show these yahoos that we mean business and aren’t scared of their stunts.”

Mica scampered away, with Jacob and Camden on her heels. They returned a few moments later laden down with guns. Piper pulled her AR-15 from Mica’s hands, while Gavin choose a shotgun, the others tentatively grabbed from the remaining rifles. Piper watched out the window as the fourwheelers slowed then came to a stop in front of the house.

“You’re not going to shoot them, are you? I mean maybe if they know there are people in here armed, they’ll just go away.” April said, holding her rifle like it was going to bite her.

Sighing Piper, looked at Gavin. “Worth a try.” Gavin shrugged and nodded. “Ok so Gav and I will go out to talk with them. Shanna, Stalker Chick go upstairs and keep an eye out from the front windows, if anything looks funny let us know.” Shanna nodded, grabbed April’s arm and headed for the stairs. “Topher and Cam check out back to make sure none are coming that way, just in case.” They nodded and headed toward the back of the house. “You two cover us from these windows.” Piper looked up at Gavin again, “Ready?”

“As I’ll ever be.”

Outside the fourwheelers had stopped and the men had gotten off, edging toward the house. They stopped in their tracks as Gavin and Piper stepped on the porch.

“That’s far enough.” Gavin called, “We’ve got ten guns trained on ya’ll.”

The men raised their arms, there were only three and each carried a hunting rifle. One called out, “we’re just looking for supplies and thought this place was abandoned. Clearly it’s not, we’ll just be on our way.” The began backing up. Piper and Gavin watched them get on their vehicles and take off.

“That was way too easy,” Piper murmured when they were out of sight.

“Agreed. They be back with reinforcements, someone should stay on guard tonight.”

Piper nodded then added, as they walked back into the house. “I got someone on the radio, she said her group had being having trouble with other survivors in her area too.”

Gavin snorted, “people are going to take advantage of the situation. Society has broken down, hon, marshal law and all that. We’re going to have to fight for what’s ours now.” He put his arm around her waist as they entered the house.

Chapter 8

Piper drummed her fingers on the desk waiting for Lyric to come through. Finally she picked up the mic, “Hey Lyric this is Piper you on?”

“Yeah I’m here.” Even though the staticy radio Piper could hear the strain in Lyric’s voice.

“You sound like shit. Those other guys giving you a hard time still?”

“No we took care of them, well a zombie wave took care of them.”

Unsure how sympathetic to be Piper replied, “Sucks to be them.”

Lyric recounted how they had gone to the town, the encounter with the undead wave and the rantings of “The Rev”. She told Piper how according to The Rev the Nazis were behind the outbreak and Piper felt her stomach twist. Nazis? She knew of the conspiracy theories saying the heads of the Nazi party had fled to Argentina. How supposedly Hitler himself escaped there after the war. Everyone had heard about how NASA was built on the backs of Nazi scientists brought over after the war. But these were just theories and hear say, nothing concrete ever came up to prove them. At least that she knew of, but then she never really cared World War II was before her time.

When Lyric finished all Piper could say is, “That’s some fucked up shit.”

“You have no idea.”

Mica bursted into the control room, breathing hard as if she had run all the way to the bunker. “P, you have to come… it’s crazy.

“Hey Lyric, I’ll be right back one of my roomies wants me to see something.”

“Ok.”

Piper raced after Mica, when she paused at the first floor Mica grabbed her arm yanking her up to the second. Mica pushed Piper in front of her bedroom window and pointed over the trees. A huge black and gray mushroom shaped cloud hung on the horizon. “Please, Mics, tell me everyone is inside.”

“They are.”

“Get them down to the bunker. Now!”  

Mica bolted and Piper raced from room to room, making sure windows and doors were secure.  In the kitchen she grabbed a case of MRE’s and bottled water from the pantry. At the basement door, Gavin relieved her of the water carrying it down after her. “How bad is it?”

Piper shook her head, outside she projected calm for those around her, inside her stomach rolled and tears threatened to drop any minute. Her father’s worst case scenario was playing out. He’d warned them if a zombie apocalypse happened there wouldn’t be anyone to run the plants full time which meant they’d go sooner or later. Entering the bunker she found everyone huddled in the command center. Setting down the case of MRE’s she walked over to the radio. “Lyric how close are you to Lake Ontario?”

“Not close.”

“Good because the power plant just blew.”

“What power plant?”

“The nuclear one.”  Everyone in the room eyes turned to her, fear filling them.

“Holy shit! Are you guys going to be ok?”

“We’ll be fine, we have a bomb shelter.” Piper reached over and flipped a camera on. From it’s position she could see the windsock her dad had put up a lifetime ago. “We’re upwind so most the radioactive crap will be carried over the lake and toward Canada.” Her eye’s went back to her freaked out friends and she lied, “I have a plan.”

The radio crackled, “That’s good to hear. If you can leave come here. We’re rebuilding Big Moose and could use more people.”

Piper moved to the map of New York hung on the wall, stretching the mics cord behind her. “That’s near Old Forge, right?”

“Couple miles north.”

It was outside the contamination zones, but if the wind picked up it could blow radioactive dust hundreds of miles. There was still the potential for radiation sickness. The lake and river were right out. Going south would require a circumventive route. Not only would there be a huge fire, higher risk of radiation, but the bigger cities would have more zombies and they’d seen the waves moving south out of Watertown. A chill raced down Piper’s back as a thought hit her, radioactive zombies.

Her eyes drifted south, and the number of little yellow radioactive markers seemed staggering. If one of the plants on the lake had a meltdown which of the others had also. For now they were safe in the shelter, but the supplies were dwindling.

“Thanks, Lyric we’ll consider it. I’ll radio you later.”

“Be safe.”

“Will do, you too.” Piper walked back over to the radio and hung up the mic. Leaning against the desk she rubbed her forehead. Looking up she found seven pairs of uncertain and fearful eyes on her.

“So what’s the plan fearless leader?” April snarked, her voice full of false bravado as she clung to Topher like a frightened monkey.

“For now sit tight. We’re safe down here.” Grabbing a couple whiteboard markers she moved back to the map. “These are the closest nuclear plants to us.” She drew a sloppy circle around them estimating ten miles, then another bigger circle in another color estimating fifty miles. She pointed to the small circle, “If this was a normal meltdown, everyone in this circle would have to be evacuated. The bigger circle shows possible contamination from radiation. Which mean any above ground water or food source could make us sick.” Not looking at the group she sighed. “We only have enough food for probably a month at our current rate, if rationed maybe we can stretch it to three. I had planned on scavenging, the garden and local farms to help supplement. That’s out the window, what we have down here and canned stuffs upstairs are all we have.”

“Couldn’t we still take canned and packaged food from the houses and stores?” Cam asked.

“In theory, yes. But we still run the risk of cross contamination depending on the state of the houses or stores, and there’s the water issue.”

Jacob piped up, “I thought the well here was fed by an underground spring.”

“It is but we’ve never traced it back beyond our property, it could start above ground. I’m not sure we want to take that chance.” Drawing in a breath she added, “we’re less than fifty miles from two nuclear power plants.” She pointed to the map, “and there’s a third by Rochester. The whole eastern half of the US is packed with these suckers. We have to assume that no one is manning the plants which means sooner or later they are all going to melt down. Depending on the weather I don’t know how much radioactive crap is going to be flying around. There’s no one to put out the fires, and no one to work on cleaning the radioactive waste. We also have to factor in the zombies, more than likely the radiation won’t affect them so they’ll be walking contamination.” Sucking in another breath Piper looked around at the pale drawn face that looked back and felt a pang of guilt. “I’m sorry guys. I’m not trying to scare you, just tell you what we’re up against.”

“What about Big Moose?” Shanna asked, she was looking over Piper’s shoulder at the map. “It’s surrounded by forest and mountains shouldn’t that buffer some of the dust and what not. It’s also outside your circles of doom and has other survivors. Judging from the map, it’s our best option. Unless we want to move to the other side of the country, fighting untold numbers of infected dead heads on the way.”

“Well what does everybody think?” Piper paused a beat then added, “Hands if you want to go to Big Moose.”

April’s and Shanna’s hands shot up, tentatively Jacob and Cam added theirs. After a moment of indecision Topher put his hand up as well.

“Alrighty then. We’re going to Big Moose.” Piper forced a smile, “We’ve got a lot to do.”

Chapter 9

Piper looked over the road map folded to show the route they’d be taking to Big Moose. As much as she didn’t want to the most direct way was through Adams Center, taking one seventy seven to Lowville, then driving down the number four road directly to Big Moose. The route would also keep them from having to deal with any big cities or towns. Once they reached Lowville they would be out of the contamination zone and she would feel better.

Mica skipped into the control room. “You have to see what the guys have done to the bus.”

Piper hope it was the modifications she’d discussed with Gavin last night. She given Shanna and April the job of taking stock of the supplies and boxing them for the drive. While the guys had gone up to the barn to modify her dad’s monster bus for zombie fighting. Entering the barn she took in what the guys had been working on. The bus sat on huge off road wheels several feet in the air, just like it always had, and now boasted chicken wire welded over the windows and windshield. The front door to the bus had a piece of steel about waist high over the lower half with chicken wire covering the top. Both these additions made it so the windows and door could be opened, yet keep the occupants safe. They were good additions to the shatter resistant glass already in place, a safety feature her dad had built in. Having been created for the sole purpose of destroying other vehicles, the bus had a lot of safety features required for the demolition derbies her dad had taken the thing to.  

Gavin voice cut into her thoughts as they walked around the bus. “The old man knew what he was doing with this thing. The underside is secure so nothing will fly up and jam the engine. Only thing I can’t find is diesel.”

Mica giggled, “It doesn’t run on diesel.”

“The engines more of a flex fuel system. I don’t know the exact mechanics but this bad boy runs on daddy’s moonshine.” Piper said, affecting a southern twang on the end.

“I knew I liked your dad,” Gavin said with a grin.

Piper returned it with a sad smile, “He liked you too.”

Turning her attention back to the bus, a roll out ladder hung from the rear exit of the bus. Hoisting herself inside Piper looked around. All but the first two rows of seats had been removed, to make room for supplies. On closer inspection she found the chicken wire hadn’t just been welded on but also bolted. Sharp screw tips pointed out, ready to shred grabby undead hands.

“You guys have been busy.”

Gavin shrugged, “we just reinforced what was already here.”

Piper nodded, and sighed. “Ok go get cleaned up and we’ll start packing supplies. I want to head out first thing in the morning.”

****

They hadn’t left quite as early as Piper had hoped. Wrangling grumpy teens out of bed wasn’t as easy as her mother had made it seem. But now they were on the road, Piper and Gavin on the motorcycles and the rest of the group in the bus. Topher was still a little sketchy driving the behemoth, but he was getting the hang of it. Communicating through headset walkies-talkies, Gavin and Piper scouted ahead for road blocks, zombies, and other survivors.

With a burst of speed Piper popped out of the four way stop and took the corner to fast, dumping the old bike. The sound of an oncoming motor was surprising and terrifying as the huge SUV barreled toward her. Her bad leg was wedged under the bike, making it impossible for Piper to get up. The SUV jerked to the right, skidded with a squeal of tires over the embankment and into the tree line. With a feeling of helplessness she watched the blonde head in the driver seat bounce around then the airbag deployed. The sound of breaking trees, crunching metal, and shattering glass reached her. She sat frozen, even when the weight of the bike was lifted off her leg.

“Piper,” Gavin’s worried face appeared in her vision, snapping her out of it.

“There’s someone in the SUV.” Pushing to her feet she winced as pain radiated up and down her leg from the knee.

Concern flashed on Gavin’s face. “You stay here I’ll go check.”

Stomach twisting Piper did as he suggested, watching Gavin run to the vehicle and pull a girl from the driver’s seat. Suddenly Mica was next to her, squatting down.

“You ok, P?”

“Yeah, just dumped the bike and wrenched my knee. I’ll be fine.” She looked up as Gavin lay the unconscious SUV driver in front of her. The girl was about Mica’s age, her chest rose and fell rhythmically. She sported a large bruise on her forehead near the hairline, which was old judging from the color. On her left temple there was another bruise forming with a cut and a trickle of blood. The airbag had done some damage as well, giving her a case of raccoon eyes and a bloody nose. Small cuts dotted her arms, chest and face. Her left hand lay at an odd angle signaling that her wrist was probably broken.

“Mica get the first aide kit.” With a quick nod, Mica ran toward the bus.

Piper tentatively ran her finger down the girl’s nose, and breathed a sigh of relief. “Not broken. Probably just a concussion, hopefully.” Looking the girl over, Piper’s eyes lingered on the matching set of Browning twenty two caliber pistols on her hips. “She looks in good health.”

“Cars packed with supplies.” Gavin added.

Mica returned with the first aide kit handing it to Piper. Using an Ace bandage she wrapped the broken wrist aligning it as best she could. “It really should have a cast.” Piper sighed, and looked at Gavin. “Can you get her in the bus. Grab Topher and get the supplies from the vehicle along with any of her stuff. We can’t just leave her here.”

“No problem.” He eyed her sitting on the road. “What about you?”

She waved away his concern. “I’m fine.”

Gavin nodded, lifting the girl up he carried her to the bus. Mica started to follow and Piper grabbed her shirt. “Help me up.”

Concern flicked through Mica’s eyes, reaching down she wrapped an arm around Piper’s waist and helped her to her feet. Leaning on Mica, Piper took in her torn jeans and road rash. Piper winced, putting weight on her sore leg.

“From one to stepping on a Lego how bad is it?” Mica asked, glancing at her leg.

Piper smiled, “around a GI Joe.” Mica grinned and helped her get the motorcycle back on it’s wheels. “I want you to keep an eye on our new friend. Let me know when she wakes up.”

Mica gave her a smart-ass salute, and headed for the bus passing Gavin as she climbed back in. Gavin came over as Piper straddled the bike.

“You ok to drive that thing?”

“Yeah. Not my first wipe-out.”

Chapter 10

Mica looked at the young woman laying on the seat, she was pretty when you looked past the cuts and bruises. Reaching out she brushed a few strands of hair off other woman’s face. Sighing she pulled out an alcohol pad from the first aide kit on her lap and began cleaning the tiny cuts.

“So is she ok?” Camden asked, peering over the seat in front of them.

Mica gave him a looking asking if he was stupid, then said, “does she look ok?”

“He means was she bit?” Jacob popped up next to Camden looking down at them.

“Not sure yet, but I doubt it.” Mica replied, dabbing at a cut on the girl’s cheek. The woman moaned and shifted on the seat.

“Why do you doubt it?” Camden asked.

“She’s clean, has supplies… She was somewhere safe. Besides look at those guns.” Appreciation crept into Mica’s voice. “This girl knows how to take care of herself. She would have been fine if Piper hadn’t wiped out in front of her vehicle.”

“Yeah well take good care of her, Hot Stuff, we might have to repopulate the world.” Jacob said grinning before sinking back down in the seat.

Mica clenched her jaw and went back to tending the wounded woman in front of her. Jacob had turned into a giant ass as soon as he discovered he was safe. More than once she’d come close to punching him. At first she had wondered if this was just his way of dealing with everything, but after spending time with him and Camden she’d realized it was just how he acted.

Shanna appeared at the end of the seat. “Here’s an ice pack, it’s one of those instant ones you have to shake to make cold.”

“Thanks,” Mica took the offered pack, smacking it on the floor she shook it until it got cold. Wrapping it in a wash cloth she placed it on the blond’s forehead.

“She going to be ok?”

Mica shrugged, “hopefully.” Snapping the first aide kit shut she handed it to Shanna then climbed up into the seat laying the young woman’s head on her lap. Holding the ice pack in place Mica stared out the window absently stroking the woman’s hair now and again. A slight whimper escaped the girl causing Mica to look down, and raise the ice pack. Her lids fluttered then blinked open, revealing eyes that reminded Mica of the Caribbean. Mica smiled, “You’re awake.”

Placing the ice pack back on the girl’s forehead, she added,“You might want to stay lying down, you hit your head pretty good in that accident and I’m pretty sure your arms broke too.”

The woman groaned, her eyes closing and face scrunching up in pain. After a moment she looked back up at Mica and licked her lips. “Where am I?”

“Oh sorry, bad manners.” Mica offered another smile. “I’m Mica and you’re on our bus. Don’t worry we’ll take care of you.”

She gave a slight nod, her eyes falling shut again.

Mica keyed the headset, “Piper she woke up.”

After a moment Piper came back, “any information.”

“Not yet, she’s kind of out of it.”

“Ok keep me informed.” There was a burst of static then Piper added, “Let Topher know that we’re coming up on Adams Center and the bridge is out.”

“Will do.” Mica shifted slightly and the girls eyes flew open. “Sorry. I’ll be right back.” Setting her head on a rolled up sleeping bag Mica got to her feet and made her way to the front of the bus. “Hey T, Piper said that the bridge to Adams Center is out. We’ll have to cut over eighty-one.”

“Wait, I’m not sure I’m ready for off roading.”

Mica glanced over her shoulder, “Shanna would you keep an eye on our guest?”

“Sure.” Shanna walked over to the seat where the young woman lay.

“Let me drive, T.”

“What?” He gave her a quick glance, then turned back to the road. “You can drive this thing? Do you even have your license?”

“Yes and permit.” Mica grinned at him. “Who do you think test drove this bad boy for Pops?”

“Ok, but if Piper gets mad it’s on you.”

Mica keyed the headset, “Piper we’re switching drivers. Topher’s not crazy about the idea of off roading, I’m taking over.”

“All right, take it easy.”

Mica’s grin widened as she took over the driver seat and clasped the harness. Revving the engine she eased the bus down the on ramp to eighty one, then drove it over the median and all the lanes before going back up the off ramp. Piper and Gavin waited ahead, waving when they saw her, then driving off. Mica drove carefully into town. The Nice n’ Easy had been raided, gas nozzles abandoned on the ground and a truck rammed through the front doors. The deeper they got into the village the more signs of chaos appeared. Houses had smashed windows, doors hung open, cars flipped on their sides, mangled around telephone poles or just plain abandoned.

Piper came over the headset, “Mics you got a pile up in front of the library. Want us to wait?”

“Just stay out of the way, we’ll get over it.” Mica replied, speeding up. “Buckle up boys and girls… It’s going to get a little bumpy.”

A wicked smile crossed her lips as she saw the smashed cars blocking the road. The bus heaved up and rolled over the cars as though they were nothing more than a speed bump, land with a jolt on the other side.

“Son of a bitch!” Piper cried into Mica’s ear. “There is a huge crowd of zombies up ahead. It looks like their trying to get into the school.”

“Hang back. I’ll take care of them.”

“Mic’s…”

“No worries, P. I got this.” Mica sped up, her heart pounding as she plowed into the crowd of zombies before they could even turn. The huge tires crushed the decaying creatures, smashing and smearing them over the road. Behind her April screamed as a few of the dead heads clung to the chicken wire. Mica whipped the bus around for another pass, and the rotten flesh gave way. Putrid body part flew in all directions from the massive tires. Over the whine of the engine and the crunch of bones under the wheels Mica heard cheering. She chanced a glance out the window and saw a group of men standing on a bus which had been flipped on it’s side to form a blockade. Swinging the monster bus around for the third time, Mica took out the rest of the group which had been pounding on the buses roof before pulling to a stop. The men jumped down, crushing the skulls of the monsters still moving on the ground.

“Holy shit, that was so cool. You really are Jill Valentine, Mica.” Camden cried, pumping his fist in the air.

“Oh my god, Mica, never do that again. I was scared shitless.” Shanna chastised.

Mica turned to look at her passengers, April was clinging to the seat looking pale. Both boys were thrilled looking at her with awe. Topher was looking out the window an unreadable look on his face. Shanna was tending to their guest, who was sitting up grinning at her. Mica felt a smile pull at her lips as the headset crackled.

“Good job, Sis, that was pretty awesome.”

****

Mica heaved herself, a thermos of chicken soup and the wiggling puppy, she had dubbed Barbra after discovering it was a girl, into the bus. Barbra immediately ran over to her makeshift crate and huddled in the blanket Mica had put in there. The tiny puppy didn’t seem to like riding very much. Mica turned her attention to Ava. The new addition to their group sat in the same spot they had left her. Sitting on the cracked green seat, her back against the side of the bus, knees pulled up to her chest.

They’d been lucky. The school had been taken over by Gavin’s biker gang, who were taking in survivors. The gang had been ballsy enough to go to the Med Redi for medical supplies and had discovered a nurse hiding out there. He’d been able to put a cast on Ava’s wrist, but without x-rays they couldn’t tell how bad it was or exactly how long the cast should stay on. Erring on the side of caution he’d told them a couple months at least.

Ava looked up as Mica approached. “I brought you some chicken soup.” Mica offered holding up the thermos and sitting on the end of the seat.

“Thanks.” She took the offered container. Pinning it between her knees she unscrewed it with her good hand.

Mica watched Ava maneuvered the thermos, wanting to offer to help but also knowing if it was her she wouldn’t want to be treated like an invalid. Especially now, when having a broken bone could mean life or death. Holding the cap full of soup between her knees and the thermos in her good hand, Ava offered Mica a sheepish grin. “Little help.”

Mica smiled back, “sure.” She replied, taking the thermos and the inside cover to screw back in place. “Where were you headed?”

Ava took a sip of her soup, slurping down a noodle before answering. “Big Moose. My family has a summer home there. When this whole thing started my mom and brothers headed up there.”

“You didn’t go with.”

For a moment Ava seemed to be debating how much to tell her, while taking another gulp of soup. Finally she replied, “I stayed to help my dad, he stayed to keep the Nuclear power plant in check. Yesterday there was an accident. The cooling pool caught fire and my dad…” her voice caught and she looked down at the cup in her hand.

“I’m so sorry.” Mica offered, knowing full well those words meant nothing to Ava right now. “I lost both my parents in a car accident before this whole thing happened. It’s just Piper and me, now. So I get it.”

Ava’s head came up, her blue eyes boring into Mica’s brown ones. Mica felt her stomach flutter, and a tingle raced up her arms. A ghost of a smile crossed Ava’s lips, then she settled back against the bus again sipping on her soup.

“So where were you guys headed?” Ava asked changing the subject.

“Same place. We’ve been in contact with someone up there who says they’re taking in survivors. Figured at least we can check it out.” Mica shifted in the seat pulling one leg under her and turning to face Ava.

Voices at the back of the bus drew their attention. Mica peered over the seat as Jacob climbed in with a much bigger teen right behind him. Two other boys clambered in after them.

Jacob grinned at her, “great you’re here. These guys wanted to meet the driver who saved their butts.”  

Mica didn’t like this one bit, she didn’t like how the boys were eyeing their supplies or the once over they were giving the bus. Standing Mica stood in the aisle between the seat blocking the way to the driver seat. The bigger teen gave Mica a once over which made Mica’s skin crawl.

Jacob smiled wider, “Mica this is George. Mica’s the one who was driving and smashed all those zombies.”

George grinned at her revealing tobacco stained teeth some pieces of chew stuck there as well making her cringe. His dirty blond hair was greasy, pimples covered his face, he had the build of a football player or farmer. He stepped closer, and the smell of peppermint snuff mixed with body odor wafted toward her.

“So where’d you learn to drive like that?”

Swallowing down her revulsion, Mica replied, “My dad.”

He nodded as though that was the answer he expected. Anger spiked in Mica’s chest. “Listen I don’t think you should be out here.” She looked over George’s shoulder at Jacob, “Does Piper know you brought them out here?”

He gave her a noncommittal shrug.

“Hey we just wanted to meet you and ask you to come party with us on the roof. Celebration for getting rid of all those dead heads.”

“Thanks but I’ll pass. I want to stay with my friend, she was hurt and isn’t up for partying.”

He glanced down at Ava, who glared back. “She can come too, or we can just have it here.”

Mica shook her head. This guy was pissing her off more and more. She hated these types who wouldn’t take no for an answer. Gritting her teeth she spat out. “We don’t want to party. Get the hell off my bus.”

Anger flashed in George’s eyes and he gave her a hard shove, knocking her into the seat across from Ava. “We’re going to have some fun whether you like it or not.” He snarled looming over her.

Mica lashed out with her foot connecting with his knee, the small space had made it hard to get momentum and the blow just made him snarl at her. Kneeling on the seat he unbuckled his pants with one hand while grabbing at her jeans with the other. Mica forced herself to remain calm. He grinned down at her, “see it’ll be fun.” The dumb-ass leaned down as though to kiss her, and Mica headbutted him right in the nose. For a moment she saw stars, then heard him howl in pain. Jerking up holding his bloody nose, he screamed. Mica didn’t think twice this time she brought her booted foot up right between his legs. Another cry of pain leaked from George as he crumbled to the floor. Getting to her feet she found his two lackeys edging closer while Jacob was nowhere to be found.

From the other seat Ava rose up a Browning in her good hand pointed at the boys. They froze in their tracks, staring at her. “Don’t fucking move,” she growled.

“You can’t shoot us both.” One said, with a tremor to his voice.

Ava raised an eyebrow, looking devastatingly badass. “Can’t I.”

They glanced at each other nervously, but otherwise didn’t move.

Mica felt a smile tug at her lips as she keyed the headset mic. “Piper get your ass out the bus we have a problem.”

****

Piper was furious, hot righteous rage poured through every millimeter of her body. She glared at Donovan as he spoke to Mica and Ava. The boys had been lucky that Gavin and Donovan had come out with her. When she’d found the one crying on the bus floor holding his crotch with his pants undone, she’d been tempted to take Ava’s gun and shoot him herself.

Gavin put his hand on her shoulder and she flinched him off. “Piper, Mica’s fine, you can’t blame yourself for this. It’s a new dangerous world.”

“I don’t blame myself, currently I’m blaming Jacob for bring them on the bus in the first place. The kid is a giant pain in my ass.”

“What do you want to do with him?”

Piper looked up at Gavin, his eyes were hard and she realized he was as mad as she was. Gavin loved Mica like she was his own little sister.

“Donny said we can leave him here.”

She shook her head and looked back at the girls. “Let Mica decide.”

Donovan got to his feet and came to where they stood in the back of the bus. Gavin’s brother had been a State Trooper before this whole mess had started and led the small mostly law enforcement biker gang. After taking over the school he’d become the unofficial leader of the survivors hold up inside.

Donovan ran a hand through his hair. “I need about ten guys just like your sister and her friend, Piper.”

Piper blinked at him unsure what to say, she knew her little sister was tough and could take care of herself but it didn’t mean she had to like it.

He continued, “the girls are going to be fine and would have been totally justified shooting each of those wanna be criminals. These three punks have been trouble from day one. I just hope this was the first time and the last time they try something like this. Most the girls Mica’s age here are pretty shell shocked, I don’t think they’d put up a fight like Mica did. Those two,” he jerked his thumb to where Mica and Ava sat.  “Are going to be the ones who survive this thing. I will deal with the boys. Mica assured me that nothing happened, but nowadays we have to be tougher than before. For me attempted rape is just as bad.”

Piper felt a swell of pride replace some of the anger she was feeling. “Thanks Donny. You know you can come with us, to Big Moose. Their trying to rebuild and take in survivors.”

“Thanks, P, but we have a good thing going here.”

“Fine, but you know where the bunker is if you ever need a fall back. We left the door unlocked.”

Donovan smiled, “good to know. Now I have to go take care of some little jerks.”

Piper looked up at Gavin as Donovan climbed down the ladder. “Would you go round up everybody? We’re leaving in ten, if their ass isn’t in the bus they stay behind.”

“Yes, Ma’am.” He gave her a salute and followed his brother.

Piper walked over to where the girls were sitting. Mica was now sporting a bruise to her forehead, a bloody nose and a cut lip all from the headbutt she’d performed. It seemed the altercation had sealed the girls new friendship as Ava’s good hand was entangled in Mica’s. Mica had her head leaning back against the seat eyes closed. Piper had to wonder how much of the cool collected facade these girls projected was the real deal. “Hey, sorry to throw this at you Mics but we need to know is Jacob staying or going?”

Mica’s eyes popped open and the girls exchanged a glance, before Mica looked at her. “He’s a prick, but we can’t just dump him with a group of strangers. He already lost his family, we’re all he’s got and it wouldn’t be right.” Mica’s eyes flashed and a hard look came over her face. “But if he does anything like this again, he’s zombie chow.”

Piper couldn’t help but smile. Mica was way more compassionate than she would have been in her position.

Chapter 11

Mica’s eyes flew open as the voice came through the CB over Topher’s head. Fighting through the nauseating pain in her head she got to her feet, making her way to the front of the bus and grabbed the mic. She’d only caught the words, lyric, Big Moose and Piper.

“This is Piper’s sister Mica, please repeat Big Moose.” She said into the mic.

“Mica this is Lyric in Big Moose, we were wondering if your group could pick up supplies while on your way. Anything… food, medical, clothes, would be helpful.”

“Let me check with Piper.” Setting the mic in the cradle Mica keyed her headset. “Piper, Lyric just contacted their wondering if we can pick up supplies somewhere along the route.”

“There’s a Wal-Mart just outside Lowville.” Topher said, glancing at her then back to the road.

“T says there’s a Wal-Mart outside Lowville. I don’t remember there being any big box stores up in the mountains, might be our only shot.”

“You know things never go well when survivors go into those places in the zombie books and movies, right?” Piper replied. “We have supplies in the bus.”

“It’s a whole town, P, this might last a week.”

“Fine. First sign of trouble we’re gone like Grandma’s bra.”

Mica chuckled, at the reminder of their eccentric grandmother who insisted on burning bras. “Ok, I’ll let Lyric know.” Mica grabbed the CB mic again, looking down at Topher. “Head for Wally World.” Pressing the mics button in her best trucker voice she said, “ten four good buddy, we’ll be on the lookout for some grub.”

There was a staticy laugh then Lyric’s voice, “that’s great. Thank you so much. Big Moose, out.”

Mica hung the mic back up. “How long before we get to Lowville?”

Topher shrugged, “Half hour tops.”

“Have somebody wake me up when we get there.” Mica moved to the back of the bus and rummaged around until she found what she was looking for then sat back down in her seat next to Ava. “Wanna split a Vicodin? You have to be in more pain than I am.”

Ava stared at her for a moment, then conceded. “Yeah, my arm hurts like crazy.”

“Thought so.” Mica sawed the white pill in half, handing one part to Ava she swallowed her own section. Closing her eyes she settled into the seat, pressing her knees into the back of the seat ahead of them. As she waited for the medicine to take effect, Mica felt Ava get comfortable next to her. The other girl’s head resting against her shoulder. She’d felt a kinship for Ava right from the get go, but after the ordeal with the three stooges Mica felt she had someone other than Piper she could rely on to have her back. With her cheek resting against the top of Ava’s head Mica fell asleep.

****

Piper took in the half dozen cars sitting in the Wal-Mart parking lot. The doors and windows looked intact, but that didn’t mean much. At this stage of the game most place would have been hit by survivors like themselves. They hadn’t even bothered with the Tops grocery store one street over. After one look at the smashed doors and zombies loitering around they’d given it a wide berth.

“This better be worth it, Mica.” Piper said into the headset mic.

Her sister’s staticy voice sounded in her ear. “Aww come on, it’ll be fun. Admit it you’ve always wanted to loot Wally World.”

Piper smiled, and shook her head. “Get out here, I need you to help clear the place.” Not that she really wanted to put Mica in danger of getting zombified, but the only two people in the group she trusted not to freeze up on her were Mica and Gavin. Everyone else was just too squeamish or she just didn’t trust them period. Mica hopped out of the bus, her lacrosse stick in one hand and a Browning strapped to her hip.

Piper frowned, pointing to the pistol. “That’s not yours.”

Mica’s face lit up, “Ava loaned it to me.”

Ava appeared in the door to the bus and sat down. “I’ve only got one good hand to shoot with anyway. I can keep watch from here if you want.”

Piper looked at Mica then Gavin, who nodded. “Fine. Mica give her your headset so she can warn us if anything starts looking hinky.”

Mica handed her headset over to Ava, then they turned heading for the doors. Before they’d gone two steps Ava called, “knock on the door first. It’ll get their attention and give you an idea of what you’re dealing with inside. If there’s to many it might not be worth it.”

Piper glanced back at the bus and nodded once, reaching the glass doors she knocked hard. After a moment of nothing happening she shrugged, “it was worth a try.”

“If they’re in the back of the store they might not hear it.” Mica said, looking at the doors.

Gavin reached over and tried to pull the doors open. “Locked.”

“Now what do we smash it or try the back?” Mica asked glancing around the parking lot.

Piper didn’t like this. Everything indicated that people had or were holed up in the store. Shaking her head Piper replied, “Neither. We are not going to be the dumb greedy heroes who take stupid chances for supplies we don’t really need.” Just as she got done speaking Piper heard what could only be a baby crying and then a woman’s scream coming from inside. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.” Piper groaned, as a zombie smashed it’s face into the door.

Mica gave her an expectant look bouncing on the balls of her feet.

“Time to be a dumb-ass hero, P.” Gavin murmured.

Piper looked to the bus, everyone, except Ava, was pressed up to the windows watching. Ava sat in the door of the bus, gun in hand a pensive look on her face. Piper would never forgive herself if she didn’t try and save a baby. She nodded to Gavin who swung his crowbar through the glass door and straight into the zombies skull. The glass crashed inward, the sound causing her to cringe. The crying became louder and she realized it was two babies not just one, the scream came again. Gavin finished knocking the glass out of the door and led the way into the building. The entryway was clear but the inside door was wedged open. Cautiously they entered the store. Inside was dark the only light coming from the skylights in the ceiling. They edged through the aisles moving toward the back and the store rooms, where the crying was coming from. A fresh looking creature lurched at them, from the toy section. Mica was quicker than either of them smashing her field hockey stick in its temple, the sickening crack followed by the body slumping to the floor. Piper’s heart pounded as they continued, pushing through the swinging doors into the huge stock room. Stacks of pallets blocked their view, along with shelves packed with everything the store offered. The crying was getting louder the closer they got. Turning a corner they found two woman holding infants, a little girl and teenage boy had climbed a shelving unit, with several zombies trying to grab them.

One of the women saw them, her panicked gaze grabbing Piper. “Help!”

Not wasting another moment, they rushed the zombies smashing heads with their weapons. Swinging around Piper saw the creature a moment too late, as Mica stepped back. It latched on to Mica’s ankle, she screamed bringing the hockey stick down cracking the skull, but the damage was done. Blood oozed from the bite, Mica’s eyes locked with Piper and she let out a groan.

Grabbing Mica’s arm Piper rushed her out of the stockroom, ignoring everything and everyone she dragged her sister through the store out to the bus. “Get the first aid kit!” She yelled as they exited the doors. Ava jumped to her feet and disappeared inside. Mica dropped to the pavement next to the bus, wincing in pain and rolling up her pant leg. Two crescent marks marred the skin.

“What happen?” Ava called tossing Piper the kit.”

“Mica was bit.” Piper replied turning back to Mica. Yanking the kit open, she pulled out alcohol wipes and began rubbing furiously at the marks.

“Piper.” Mica put stopped Piper’s attempt at first aid. “I’m done for…”

“Not yet.” Ava interrupted, dropping down beside them with her pack in hand. Squatting next to Mica, she rummaged through the bag then brought out a bottle of pills. “Take one of these.”

“What is it?” Piper asked suspiciously.

“A cure.” Ava replied, handing Mica a little purple pill from the bottle.

Mica shrugged popping the pill in her mouth and swallowing. “Can’t hurt, I’m dead anyway.”

Piper glared at Ava. “If that works we are having a long discussion young lady.”

Ava didn’t look at her, the girl’s full attention on Mica. “It’ll work,” she breath her fingers entwining with Mica’s.

****

“You’re sure your sisters ok?”

Piper forced a smile at the older woman with the kids, and nodded. “Yeah I over reacted.” Truth was she didn’t know if Mica was ok or not. It had been several hours since they had saved Sofia and her family. Finding the woman’s husband and brother-in-law tied up in the stores office. She had yet to learn the families whole story but at the moment didn’t care. Her mind was whirling with the possibility that Ava had a cure to this horrible epidemic.

Sofia spoke catching her attention again, “one of the men who brought us here was bitten. He became sick within an hour, died and came back in under three. His friends tried to lock him in the freezer not wanting to kill him and it didn’t work out so well.  Overnight they had all changed and came after us. I’m just saying…”

“I get it.” Piper snapped, getting to her feet. “I’m going to check on my friends.” Stalking away, Piper felt bad she knew the older woman was just trying to help but if her calculations were right Mica should’ve changed already. Climbing up into the bus, Piper walked over and sat down across from Mica and Ava. She studied Mica for a moment, her sister looked fine. She wasn’t sick and didn’t have any possible symptoms of the virus. In a low voice Piper said, “talk to me Ava. What’s your story?”

Ava’s story is avaliable on Shakespir.

Stay tuned for The Survivalistas Books 4: Chole & Book 4.5: Ali

 

 

 

Other Books in The Survivalists Series

Book 1: Indiana- https://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/414514

Book 2: Lyric- https://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/465713

Book 2.5: Mica- https://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/467514

Book 3: Piper – You just read it!

Book 3.5: Ava- http://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/573115

Book 4: Chole – Coming soon to The Survivalistas Blog!

Book 4.5: Ali – Coming Soon!

 

 

About the Author- Shandy lives in Upstate New York with her husband, two kids, four cats, and dog. By day is a not so mild mannered sewing machine operator. At night, and on weekends, she is Super Mom. Chasing kids, cleaning house, wrangling animals and whatever else might come up. She also runs several blogs.

You can find out more about The Survivalists series on it’s blog http://thesurvivalistas.blogspot.com/.

 

My other blogs-

The Mad Mind of Shandy Jo – Personal Blog
Mama Knows Books- A Book Blog
From String Bean to Lean Machine – Hiking, Fitness, and My Journey to run a 5K (and not barf at the end) Blog


The Survivalistas: Book 3- Piper

A car accident leaves Piper with shattered dreams, a bum knee, and her younger sister Mica in foster care. She's trying to scrape herself and her life together, in order to get Mica back where she belongs. When the world goes crazy, Piper no longer cares what the system says, she's going to keep her sister, friends, and begrudgingly Stalker Chick alive. Returning to their childhood home, nicknamed The Bunker, Piper and Mica have to protect their new family from zombies, other survivors, and even a possible nuclear meltdown.

  • Author: Trailer Trash Publishing
  • Published: 2015-10-14 18:20:10
  • Words: 19570
The Survivalistas: Book 3- Piper The Survivalistas: Book 3- Piper