December 28, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - Gas Station Adventure

[Posted by Ted H]

Christmas season has finally passed, meaning I'm allowed to have a life that isn't entirely work! Lucky me! Maybe I'll get some writing done if it isn't too much trouble...

*ring! ring!*
Hello?......uh, sure, I guess I can totally come in to work on my day off because other people don't want to show up and no one else wants to come in...

What was I saying?


[Race for Safe Haven - Gas Station Adventure]

           Rhett drove through town to scenes of abandoned cars and building and the dead roaming everywhere. The radio played nothing but static as Rhett scoured the airwaves in search of the broadcast Jake had told him about. He scolded himself for not getting the station from his friend while he could. This whole mission he and Jake were on would weigh a lot less on him if he knew that the major shelter in California was still standing. He badly wanted to dismiss the notion in his head that there was no safe place anywhere, and he and Jake were looking in vain.
            The easiest way into the city was via the highway, but every entrance was gridlocked with abandoned vehicles and even more of the dead. Some even had road blocks set up in an apparent effort to keep the dead away. Eventually, Rhett grew tired of having to back out of onramps and settled for taking the back roads to get into Syracuse.
            The neighborhood scenes on the way to the city were appalling. Fires had been burning unchecked in some houses, bodies were littered all over lawns, mostly devoured, in some cases only a pile of bones. Dismembered corpses were crawling and dragging themselves into the street at the sight of Rhett's approaching red SUV.
            At the outskirts of the city was a shopping mall, once billed as the Mecca of Upstate New York shopping, now a hollow shell, part of it blown down from an unknown explosion, the rest sinking into the unstable ground beneath. Rhett wondered as he passed if the zombie apocalypse was the only thing going on, or if only a few weeks abandonment really could spell the doom for some modern amenities. He altered his way into the city various times because of the police barricades near the mall.
            Rhett's dashboard indicated that he was running low on gas. He had enough to get to the shelter location, but not much after that, and Rhett had a feeling he might need to drive beyond the dome. He detoured his route in search of a gas station. "I don't know this fucking part of town," he mumbled to himself as he searched, going slow enough to get a good look down each intersection but fast enough to not let any wandering dead reach his car.
            "Finally," he said as he stopped short at a crossing and turned left down a street. He felt lucky that everything near the station was quiet. "Too quiet," he said with a smirk as he stopped by a pump and got out, tossing his hat next to the shotgun. He took a deep breath and threw the gas mask over his face. His vision was slightly distorted, but everything was otherwise fine. The lights on the pump were active, meaning the station was working off an independent generator. He grabbed a hose and tried to pump gas, but nothing came out.
            "Credit or pre pay inside" flashed on the screen as Rhett swore and reached for his wallet, instinct being the only reason he had it on him anyway. "Where the hell..." he trailed off as he searched for his credit card before he stopped and slapped himself in the head. "Fucking bar," he said as he pushed his wallet back into his pants.
            He looked into the gas station and looked for movement inside. Merchandise and sale advertising posters covered most of the view. He shrugged and reached into his belt and retrieved his handgun. If there was anything inside, ten bullets were more than enough to handle things. He wanted his hands free, so he left the shotgun behind. He wasn't planning to take long anyway. The entrance was automated, the doors opened before him as he approached to reveal nothing inside waiting for him, at least not in the open.
            As he entered, a bell rung above the door and Rhett readied himself. He checked around quickly and saw nothing move; the place was empty. He jumped behind the register and stopped at the sight of the cigarettes and lighters. Rhett had quit a few years ago, but now decided that cancer was a preferable demise to whatever the apocalypse had in store. He grabbed a couple packs and a disposable lighter. He had packed his old lighter, but more fire was never a bad idea.
            "Now then," Rhett said as he turned his attention to the cash register. Usually when he paid for gas in cash, the clerk would type something into the register and magically, to Rhett, gas would become pumpable. "Maybe there's a code or something...Shit, what pump number was I?...Fuck it," Rhett said as he wandered back outside in search of a zombie. People usually die with their wallets, and his plan now was to use someone else's credit card.
            To Rhett's dismay when he stepped out, a fairly large hoard had followed him on his trip for gas and had now caught up. His initial instinct was to get to his car and drive off, but the gas issue was still unresolved. This might be his last good chance for gas. He made a break for the car; he needed his shotgun. In the rush for the car though, and because of his limited vision from the gas mask, he failed to see a zombie step out from behind the car. Just as he was about to enter the car, it reached out and grabbed his mask, causing Rhett to recoil back.
            The mask pulled off of Rhett as he frantically raised his gun and shot the zombie right in the middle of its forehead. The shot echoed through the area. anything that wasn't aware of his presence would now give him their full attention. He turned back to see more zombies had closed the gap to him and he knew he didn't have any time to get into his car for the shotgun. He had to lead them away first. He took off back for the station. There was no room to go elsewhere and Rhett hoped he could lose them through the back and circle around for the shotgun.

December 21, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - Time to Go

[Posted by Ted H]

[Race for Safe Haven - Time to Go]

            A third week had passed,  and one morning when Rhett woke up, he noticed there was no power in the house. He immediately dialed Jake while walking through the house, trying every switch before heading into the garage where the fuse box was. "Hel...hello?" Jake answered, trying to shrug off sleep. "Dude, I have no power," Rhett said as he opened the fuse box and started flipping every switch.
            "Fascinating," Jake said, completely uninterested "Can I go back to sleep now?" Jake had no longer been as interested in conversing over the last few days. Rhett figured it was fatigue of the situation finally setting in, but he also realized that Jake had no longer been mentioning Austin, and was quick to change subjects whenever Rhett inquired about the man's brother.
            "Do you have power?" Rhett asked as he gave up on the box and made his way back into the house. "Is this really important?" Jake asked.
            "Yes," Rhett replied "Because if it's just me, then whatever. But if you don't have power either, then the entire east coast grid is down, meaning this situation is officially FUBAR."
            "FUBAR as in, what, help is officially never coming?"
            "Yeah. We officially need to consider one of those shelters or even that place in California."
            "Shit," Jake said as Rhett heard the sounds of him getting out of bed. After a moment Jake spoke again. "I got nothing over here."
            "How are you on supplies?"
            "Weight watchers snack chip...things, and my sword. It's all I need. You?"
            "I've been stretching a box of cereal the last few days. I think it's time to consider seeking help."
            "Yeah, so I'll see you here?"
            "Maybe. What if the Rochester shelter isn't around anymore?"
            "What if the Syracuse one isn't either?"
            Rhett thought about it a moment. He could tell Jake already knew what he was about to suggest, because he could tell Jake had been chomping at the bit to get out and run crazy in the apocalypse. "Reconnaissance?" Rhett suggested.
            "Fuck! Yes!" Jake shouted.
            "We check out each other's shelter situation and report to each other. We'll figure our next move after."
            "Bout damn time!" Jake said as Rhett heard him rushing about on the other line.
            "Hey, don't do anything stupid," Rhett warned.
            "Don't worry, man," Jake assured "I'll save the real fun for when we meet up. Do more damage that way."
            "Know where you're headed?"
            "TV said something about the college nearby. You?"
            "Carrier Dome."
            "Aw, you're finally going to an SU game?"
            "Yeah, I'm not too happy about it."
            "Well try not to die. I'll be so pissed my apocalypse buddy dies on me."
            "Cute. Just keep all future communications to texts. I dunno the next time I'll be able to charge my phone."
            "Can we get this started already?" Jake sounded almost giddy.
            "Alright. Let's check back in at sundown."
            "This is gonna be awesome!"
            "Try not to die."
            "Stay frosty!"
            Rhett rolled his eyes as he hung up. Jake was immature, but he wasn't retarded. He'd be fine. He just hoped one or bother of the shelters were still around. If not, they'd have to hook up and find a way to California on their own. Either way, Rhett felt that this whole apocalypse thing would be easier to endure once he finds Jake.
            "Let's do this," Rhett said as he collected all his supplies in the basement and threw them into his backpack. He stashed most of his cash from the bar at the bottom of the bag. He figured it be useless in the apocalypse, but you never knew. He checked outside to find it just as quiet as before.
            "Maybe it isn't as bad anymore," Rhett lied to himself as he opened the front door and snuck out. He opened his car door and tossed the bag into the back. Before rushing back into the house, he checked down the street to see a lone corpse in the middle of the road. Almost immediately, it looked over and saw Rhett. It moaned aloud and started making its way over.
            Rhett ran back inside and grabbed the duffle bag. He ran back out and tossed it with his backpack. He checked back on the corpse to see it had made headway over, but still not enough ground to catch Rhett. Back in the house, he ran for his weapons, foolishly saved for last.
            He grabbed the handgun and stuffed it behind his belt. He wanted a knife, but he felt slicing a zombie's throat would be a suicidal waste of time. Instead he grabbed a large flathead screwdriver with a yellow and black handle. It was his fathers, and like his father he had always insisted on using it for whatever project around that needed work despite the head being too large for most screws. The end of the world would prove to be a serious project.
            Finally, he picked up the shotgun. Most of the ammo was in his backpack, while a handful of shells were in his pocket. He was wearing thick jeans, boots, and most of the tactical gear including gloves. He didn't want the helmet, opting more for his own Yankees hat. He had the gas mask ready, but didn't want to drive with it on, so he kept it in the case that he attached to his belt. Over everything, he wore his lucky Yankees shirt. If today was the last time he'd ever see home, he was dressed appropriately.
            He ran outside with everything and looked for the zombie. It was still far off, but another one had been drawn over from the commotion. Rhett hadn't seen it before and now it was by his car. "Well fuck," Rhett said as he readied his shotgun but thought twice about it. He wasn't sure how many shells he'd need, so conserving ammo should be a priority, especially with only ten bullets in his handgun.
            "Let's dance, asshole," he said as the zombie groped towards him. He ran up and shoulder checked it away. These things were slow, and Rhett figured they were no problem one on one. the zombie had tumbled onto its back, but it was immediately getting back up as Rhett hopped into his car and fired up the engine.
            He backed out and drove down the street, more zombies seeming to crawling out of the woodwork at the noise. At the end of the street, he looked back to see a small crowd in pursuit. "Okay," he said as he drove away "Maybe it is as bad out here still."

December 14, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - The Waiting Game

[Posted by Ted H]

Hey, remember the part in the 1st LotR book when Frodo didn't do shit for about 50 years after finding the ring. Me neither. The movie showed it as well, though Peter Jackson kinda glossed over it...


[Race for Safe Haven - The Waiting Game]

            Over the span of the next couple weeks, Rhett did what he could to deal with his cold. During the day he crept around his house for supplies, slowly bringing what he could down into the basement. At night he would hold up in the basement, gathering any news he could from the internet after setting up his laptop. There was no new information to be found, but Rhett took solace that there was a stream of information coming along, even if it seemed that there were fewer and fewer people posting news with each passing day.
            Jake would find a charger eventually. Austin found a couple in the house he was in and tossed them out for Jake. The nightly conversations would start up again as a result. Austin's condition would worsen though, and Rhett could tell by the adamant nature in which Jake would refuse to talk about it. For everything else, Jake was his usual self, treating the zombie apocalypse like a potential blank check for mayhem so long as there was someone else to enjoy it with him.
            Rhett wouldn't turn on the television again since he didn't want to risk the noise in the one story house and his inability to get cable in the basement. Not that there was anything to watch; all news networks had shut down and all there was broadcasting was a tickertape of local shelter locations. The internet had eventually stopped updating and not long after that, he wasn't able to even connect.
            Jake meanwhile was in a two story house, allowing him to avoid basements and able to look out as the undead roamed nearby. He described it as watching a bunch of drunks mill about after closing time. They would be aimless until some sound caught their attention and they would make for the source regardless of what actually made the noise.
            He had access to a radio in the house and was able to scrape together the only news available now. "The situation out in California seems to have changed," he said to Rhett one night "Apparently, people over there have something figured out."
            "Figured out how?" Rhett asked.
            "I dunno, but they're putting the call out that they're a safe haven."
            "I was in no mood to drive to Rochester. You think I'd be game for a cross country trip?"
            "No, they said the only way in was to get to any of the remaining shelter locations and wait for further instructions. Apparently they have a plan to get people there."
            "What do you think about it?"
            "It sounds dumb. You hated the idea of herding everyone in the shelters. These assholes want to herd all the shelters together now, too."
            "Honestly, though, what choice is there at this point?"
            "Yeah, I'm running out of food. You?"
            "I didn't have much to begin with. If it wasn't for me being sick and having no appetite, I'd be long empty by now."

December 7, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - Fun? In the Apocalypse?

[Posted by Ted H]

Schedule should now go back to normal. Updates galore now that I've still been writing (to a much lesser degree than last month, naturally). Just trying to get to a logical end point...


[Race for Safe Haven - Fun? In the Apocalypse?]

            The apartment complex was closer to the city than the bar was, which was closer yet than where his house was. He still had time to get home before it became too dangerous to be outside. Rhett got home just as the sun was beginning to set. He quickly began to transfer all the supplies he accumulated into the house, making the metal case from the cop car the last thing he went for. By time her was dragging it out and locking up his car, his head was throbbing and his vision began to blur. His cold meds had long since stopped working.
            He got inside and locked up. He thought about turning a light on, but he felt that it might attract unwanted attention. He found the aspirin, popped more pills, then began stripping. He wasn't sure how easily the infection spread, but anything he wore today was getting tossed. After dropping every article of clothing he was wearing out the back window, he went and took a long shower.
            By time he finished, it was dark out and he could barely make his way around the house. He grabbed a bottle of water, a bag of chips, the only things he felt he could stomach at the moment. After finding his phone and the metal case, he headed for the basement and closed the door behind him. Down there he would risk turning on a light.
            He has one missed call and one new voicemail. As he listened to the message, a smile crept over his face at the sound of Jake: "You're taking stupid risks without me? Shit, I thought we were friends. Whatever, bitch, if you're lucky enough to still be alive, call me back."
            Before making the call, Rhett picked up the metal case and placed it on a table next to a light. It was held closed by a combination lock. Four dials of ten numbers lined up. Right now 0-0-0-0 was in position and Rhett figured it was going to take a while to open. "Not like I'm going anywhere," he said as he popped some chips in his mouth and dialed Jake. He switched the phone to speaker mode and placed it down as he began playing with the combo lock.
            There were a couple rings before a click sounded. Rhett waited a moment before hearing someone. "There is no fucking way you're still alive!" Jake screamed through the phone. Rhett laughed at the familiar sound of his best friend. "Yeah, fuck you too," he said as he tried various combos for the case.
            "I was sure you were fucked when you said you were gonna snoop around." Jake said in a way that would suggest the world wasn't falling apart.
            "How long have you known me?" Rhett asked.
            "Get anything good while on your trip?"
            "I raided a cop car."
            "Nice! Get any weapons?"
            "Just a handgun. The cop was long gone in the worst way possible."
            "Sucks for the bacon."
            "Went to the bar after that."
            "Oh shit, tell me you brought back more than some rancid Jager."
            "You watch your bitch mouth...and yeah, a few things, but mostly my German goodness."
            "Fuck, whatever. Free booze is free booze."
            "How bout you? What were you doing all day?"
            "Scavenging. The house I'm squatting at had no food."
            "You didn't stick around at your reunion?"
            "Not when fucking zombies crash the festivities."
            "What you call them?"
            "News calls them that."
            "Shit. Well, anyone die at your festivity?"
            "Most casualties were people I couldn't care less about. One of those things bit Austin though. Pretty pissed about that."
            "Damn. Your brother is literally the only person in your family you actually like."
            "He ain't dead yet though. He's at the house next door. We talk through adjacent windows."
            "Different houses?"
            "His idea. He thinks now that he's infected, I might catch it from him if we stay close."
            "Smart thinking."
            "Yeah, but the house he's at has shit for food as well and I'm worried he won't be able to keep his strength up."
            "He'll be okay."
            "Damn straight, he's a Mendez! We don't just die like fucking bitches! Not like you Birkins!"
            "Har har. So when you getting back here?"
            "As soon as you pick us up."
            "The fuck? You have a car. You forget how to drive?"
            "Someone fucking stole it! I walk to where I parked and all I see is broken glass and tire tracks. Just drive over. Rochester ain't that far."
            "Rochester is several hours away, which isn't even considering traffic now that everyone is trying to escape everywhere!"
            "Well what am I suppose to do, walk?"
            "Steal a car of your own. You fucking taught me to hotwire."
            "Ugh. Whatever. I'm not doing anything until Austin figures out if he's dying yet anyway. Where the hell are you, anyway?"
            "Still home."
            "Our house isn't exactly Fort Knox, Rhett."
            "I'm fine. I'm not even thinking about these rescue shelters."
            "Why not?"
            "I got this fucking cold. Unless I medicate out the ears, people will notice and people will freak out."
            "Stop being dramatic."
            "I was at the bar last night and people freaked out at me."
            "You would be the one guy to not die from this infection."
            "Well I'm still staying put."
            "Whatever. I ain't going anywhere without either you or Austin, so if you ain't hitting up a shelter, drive out to Rochester already."
            "I'm waiting out this cold first."
            "Aw man, you're ALWAYS sick. You take forever to  get better."
            "What rush are you in?"
            "The sooner you get here, the sooner we can have some fun!"
            "Fun? In the apocalypse?"
            "Hell yeah! All these walking corpses to lawlessly slaughter and all the free loot for the taking!"
            "Only you would see the end of days as an opportunity."
            "Well, it wasn't like either of us were winning at life. Let's seize the day and win at the afterlife!"
            "Are you drunk?"
            "A little. This house has shit for food, buy damn, were they stocked for booze!"
            "Save a little of that for me."
            "No promises."
            Rhett and Jake shot the shit for a couple hours while Rhett fiddled with different combinations to the metal case. Eventually the topic came up. "So what you think is in that case?" Jake asked.
            "Hopefully a weapon," Rhett said.
            "Dibs on it!"
            "You can't call dibs on something I took, especially when you ain't even here!"
            "Bull shit!"
            "Like you'd use any other weapon save for that sword you have."
            "I'm so glad I took it with me."
            "And the first zombie you use it on is gonna eat your face right off."
            "Pssh. I trained my whole life with this."
            "And unless you can chop heads off, it's useless."
            "Aim for the eyes, bitch!"
            "Whatever. I found this case with some tac gear. I think it's a grenade launcher."
            "The fuck is a patrol cop doing with a grenade launcher? Stop obsessing!"
            "A guy can dream."
            "What's in the gear?"
            "Vest, helmet and a gas mask."
            "Dude, that case is for tear gas."
            "I'll be so fucking pissed. I've been at this for an hour. Tear gas won't stop a corpse."
            "How you getting the combo? Ouija board? Asking the cop from beyond to give you the combo?"
            "One number at a time, starting from 0."
            "Dude, that's a thousand different combinations. What if it's 9-9-9-9?"
            "I tried that first, then started from 0. I don't care how long this takes. It's not like I got anything better to do."
            "Well good luck. Listen, my phone is dying and I left my charger behind. I'm going back for it first thing tomorrow."
            "You left it where? Your car?"
            "Nah, the house I was staying at."
            "You should probably limit your exposure out there."
            "Yeah sure...AFTER I find my charger, and some real food."
            "The resident really take every scrap of food?"
            "Worse, they were health nuts. Organic shit and cardboard bread."
            "I think you'll live, Jake."
                        After the call ended, Rhett spent some more time playing around with the case. His laborious process of figuring out the combination had only reached 0-7-2-1 and he was already weary of the ordeal. He rubbed his eyes and took a drink of water. He decided to take a moments respite and to sit back in his chair. His phone showed him the time was already late.
            "What's this fucking combination?" he said to himself as he looked over the case. It was a dark shade of green with a glossy finish. Besides the lock, the only distinguishable feature was the large identification code imprinted on the front of the case over the lock "1C0R1552".
            Rhett traced over the imprint with his fingers as he wondered what the purpose of it was. Then an idea struck him, almost as if her slapped him in the face. "Cops are fucking stupid!" he cried out as he went to enter a number in the lock. 1-5-5-2 was entered and Rhett was rewarded by a soft click inside the case.
            "Yes!" he called out as he flipped open the top to reveal a pump action shotgun that looked hardly used, complete with a large box of ammunition and various gun cleaning supplies. "Oh baby!" Rhett said as he picked up the weapon and looked it over. "Fuck that bar shotgun, I got so much better now."
            Rhett placed the gun back down and turned off the light. He was tired but didn't want to go back upstairs, so he instead turned to the old couch he and Jake had been keeping down here. It stunk, was stained and Rhett was pretty sure at least three kinds of bugs had taken up residence inside, but it was the only soft place to lay his head down on. He made a mental note to bring some supplies down to the basement tomorrow as he collapsed onto the couch and shut his eyes.

November 30, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - Hope (NaNoWriMo update #8)

[Posted by Ted H]

Victory lap!


[Race for Safe Haven - Hope]

            Neither man said anything on the way out of the bar. They hustled to Rhett's car and climbed in, Rhett first tossing a backpack full of cash into the back and carefully placing a couple bags packed with liquor into the backseat. "How far is your house?" Rhett asked as he settled into the drivers seat. "About a ten minute drive from here," Chris said "You don't have to do this. It's out of your way, I can probably make my way home on foot and be alright."
            "Not open for discussion," Rhett said as he fired up the engine. Looking out towards the streets, both me noticed a growing number of the dead walking about. "It's getting worse out there?" Chris said. "Must've been real bad in the city," Rhett responded "Now they're trickling out."
            "Are you sure you want to-" Chris began but Rhett cut him off. "What did I just tell you?" The trip through the streets was looking to be perilous to anyone on foot. Rhett could barely drive down a street now without drawing the attention of an infected. "Man, this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better," Rhett said. Chris nodded. "If there was a time to get out of town, now would be it."
            "And go where?" Rhett asked.
            "That's the million dollar question. This next left," Chris said while pointing "Big building on the end of the street."
            Rhett drove up to an apartment complex with people milling about outside. Most of them readied weapons when they saw Rhett and Chris exit the car and walk over. "Not dead yet," Rhett said as he kept his hand on the pistol in his belt. Chris walked behind him, using the empty shotgun as a crutch. "Who is this guy, Chris?" one of the people asked. "He's cool," Chris said "I got into a car accident and he helped me out."
            The people nearby seemed satisfied with the answer and went back to their business. Most of them were packing cars up to leave in. Others were boarding up the first floor windows. Some were debating with each other over the next action; hunker down and defend their homes or escape to a shelter.
            They took an elevator to the third floor and walked down the hall to Chris's home. "Anna!" he yelled as he opened the door and rushed in. Inside was a blond woman pointing a handgun. Chris stopped at the sight of the woman. "That's not Anna?" Rhett asked as he pointed his own handgun.
            "Beth, what are you doing here?" Chris asked.
            "Who's this asshole?" Beth asked, gesturing to Rhett with her gun.
            "Where is Anna?" Chris asked, not concerned with introductions.
            "Chris?" a woman called from the back. Out ran a brunette with a pale look on her face. Chris ran to her. After a hug and kiss, Chris asked "Where's Marie?" Anna took Chris by the hand and led him into the back where his daughter was, leaving Beth and Rhett alone.
            "So..." Rhett said aloud, noting Beth still had her gun at the ready.
            "Why is he limping?" Beth asked.
            Rhett thought about it a moment, but decided that nothing good could come from lying about it. "He's bitten," he said "Probably infected. He's already started a fever."
            Beth said nothing and sighed. "He's never been good at taking bad news."
            "Well, he's had a chance to process it," Rhett said "It's only a matter of-"
            "His daughters infected," Beth said.
            "One of those things got in?"
            "No. She was up all last night puking and spiking a fever. Anna couldn't call him because he shuts his phone off at work. Usually forgets to turn it back on until he gets home. I didn't find out myself until I got here this morning."
            "Shit," Rhett said, wondering if bringing Chris home to  this was worth it.
            "Everyone's getting eaten alive out there," Beth said "We forget the infection spread long before things went south like this. How did he get bit?"
            "I wasn't there. I arrived after the fact. All he wanted was to go home for his wife and kid."
            "When my sister told me he hadn't come home yet, we feared the worst."
            "Too bad about the kid though."
            "It's not too late."
            Before Rhett could say anything, Chris emerged from the back. His shoulders sagged and he looked even more hopeless than before. "Pack your shit," Beth said "We're going to Albany."
            "There's got to be a closer shelter than that," Chris protested "We can't take Marie on that kind of trip, not the way she's feeling."
            "We're not going to a shelter," Beth said "My ex-husband called and told me to get to Albany. Something big is happening there, apart from the shelters. When I told him about Marie, he said to get there as soon as possible."
            Gunshots sounding outside caught Rhett's attention. Chris and Beth talked about Albany as Rhett went to the window to try and see what was going outside. He could hear shouting and another gunshot, but nothing else. A minivan speeding away crossed his view, but the commotion has ceased.
            "I'll go pull my car around," Beth said as she went into the kitchen to grab a box of supplies. "You can't go alone," Chris protested "Not after all the shooting outside. Those things must be here." Rhett waved him off. "I'll make sure she's fine," he said "Just stay with your family." Chris nodded as Beth walked through for the door. "Don't make me come back up here for you," she said and left.
            People outside were in a frenzy when Rhett and Beth exited. Several people were lugging a corpse into a pile of other corpses. "They're coming!" someone said to them as he ran by. "I parked in the back, come one," Beth said as they walked. Some people with guns were on high alert as they stood by others making hasty finishing touches on the first floor window barricades.
            "So what's the deal with your husband?" Rhett asked as they made their way for the parking lot.
            "EX," Beth said "We separated a year ago."
            "Not what I meant,"
            "He told me taking the infected to a shelter isn't the way to go. I don't know specifics, but I trust him."
            "And what does he know? How does he know anything?"
            "He works in the Governor's office. He's privy to certain information."
            "There a cure? Does he know how to get one? You said it wasn't too late for the girl."
            "I don't know. He just said make sure Marie gets to Albany before she gets any worse. If that's the best chance she has, then that's my play.
            They reached Beth's sedan just as another round of shooting and yelling began. "Once they get their shit loaded, there's only going to be so much room," Beth said as they climbed in "I don't see a reason why you should join the road trip."
            "I just wanted to make sure Chris got home," Rhett said "The little trip I had in mind when I left home today has become quite the ordeal."
            "Tell me about it," Beth said as Rhett began to cough, each one causing more and more pain in his head. He could feel his nose start to clog. "You alright?" Beth asked. "I'll be fine," Rhett said as Beth drove up to the front of the building. Rhett got out and watched as Chris and his family exited and headed for him.
            The sound of gunshots grew closer and more numerous as Rhett could begin to hear moaning. Anna climbed into the back and held Marie wrapped in a towel as Chris awkwardly loaded bags into the back seat. Afterwards he stood by the passenger door and looked to Rhett. "Maybe you should follow," Chris said "In your car. I know you have supplies."
            "Nah," Rhett said as he peeked Beth impatiently waiting "You guys are fine. I'll figure something out for myself."
            "Listen," Chris said as he leaned on the shotgun "You still have those shells?"
            "Still need just one?"
            Chris smiled as he looked away "No. Maybe I can use all of them."
            "You were so sure you were already dead," Rhett said as he dug out every shell from his pocket and handed them over "What makes Marie's fate different?"
            "It's not different," Chris said as he loaded the shotgun "But if there's a chance she can make it, then I'm willing to give her the chance I didn't want for myself."
            "It might be hopeless," Rhett said "The way the world is right now?"
            "Hope is all we have," Chris said as he closed the shotgun and placed it into Beth's car "You helped me realize that, even if it wasn't your intent.
            "I just wanted you to be able to say goodbye to your family."
            "And I found out I can't. Not while they still need me."
            Rhett smiled. "Take care, Chris," he said as he offered his hand. Chris smiled back as he shook hands. "You're still an asshole," he said "But maybe a better person than I first thought."
            With that, Chris climbed into the car and shut the door. Beth started to drive, but quickly stopped and rolled down Chris's window. "Hey!" she called to Rhett "If you change your mind or just happen to end up near Albany, look for Luke Harris."
            "Who the hell is that?" Rhett called.
            "My husband."
            "You mean Ex?"
            Beth smiled and winked as she started to drive away. Rhett saw them off then made his way for his car. Most of the people staying at the complex were inside now. The increased moaning and the decreased gunfire meant this area was about to be swarmed. Rhett jumped into his car and immediately drove off.

Race for Safe Haven - From 1-to-Completely, How Fucked are We? (NaNoWriMo update #7)

[Posted by Ted H]

Greetings once again from a little place I'd like to call: The Winner's Circle!

Winning once again! For the second time in a row! For the third time overall!

I've lost count of the hours of sleep I sacrificed to get here, potential productivity wasted for sitting in front of my laptop, all in the name of pounding out words on my way to 50k. But now that I'm here, sipping the sweet, sweet nectar of victory yet again, I have only one thing left to say:

Is it time for the 2015 competition yet?


[Race for Safe Haven - From 1-to-Completely, How Fucked are We?]

            Rhett found a remote and turned on the television. Local news was still unavailable and now one of the cable news channels was flashing a "technical difficulties, please stand by" graphic. The fate of the president was being called into question by the remaining channels. One claimed he was being evacuated with his family, another claimed a more dubious demise.
            Rhett left it on for Chris to watch in silence while he disappeared into the back to look for supplies. It had become obvious that this was going to be a long term situation, so he figured he should hold up with as much as he could scavenge. He also used a key he found in a desk to open the safe and helped himself to the money inside. "Just in case the world doesn't fall apart," he said to himself as he grabbed a backpack and filled it with money and other valuables lying around.
            "Rhett, come take a look at this!" Chris called, and Rhett was running back to the bar. Chris was facing the television and Rhett looked to the screen to see another shot of the CDC but with a different person talking this time. This was a tall man in a disheveled suit, flanked on both sides by the same men in suits. Rhett raised the volume on the television as the man talked.
            "We have a number of shelters setting up in every major city and a majority of rural areas across the country. We advise everyone seek refuge at a shelter no matter how safe, secure or well stocked their home residence or public location appears to be. If you are showing early symptoms of the Waterhouse-Friderichsen infection, we advise that you also seek refuge, for each location is equipped to accommodate you."
            "What is the cutoff for infected people?" a man in the audience broke in "How infected is too infected?"
            "If you are coherent and not trying to harm anyone," the speaker continued "And you comply with all orders and requests at the shelters, then you will be allowed refuge." Other people in the audience began to shout questions and it became impossible for the speaker to continue.
            "So on a scale from "1" to "completely", how fucked are we?" Chris asked, a sense of dread weighing on his voice. Rhett just blew air through his nose and shook his head. "You think one of these shelters are a good idea?" Chris said as Rhett began to rub his head. His cold meds were beginning to fail. "I ain't doing that shit," Rhett said "Sounds like a bad idea, herding everyone in one place with this sickness running rampant?"
            "I don't think they're gonna let infected people just walk in there, not with the amount of fear going around," Chris said as he eyed the shotgun sitting on the bar. "How many shells did you find for that gun?" he asked. "Just four. I don't think he kept much in the way of ammo here. Maybe at his house," Rhett said, not taking his eyes off the screen in case the commotion settled down and something relevant would be said.
            Chris picked the gun up and opened it. "That's okay. Can I just have one shell?" he asked. Rhett immediately looked away from the television and at Chris, who had a calm look to his as he patiently waited for a shell. "Why, Chris?" Rhett asked, being careful to pick his words.
            "I'm dead," Chris said calmly "What do you care when I finally end it. I don't want to be one of those things, and you don't want to have to deal with me when I turn."
            "I'm not killing you, Chris," Rhett said.
            "I'm not asking you to. Just give me a shell. I'll take care of the rest."
            "I give you a shell, I'm killing you. No dice."
            "Who are you to care now?" Chris yelled "I'm dead no matter what. I just want to go out on my terms. At least let me die with some dignity!"
            "Dignity?" Rhett yelled back "You're looking to off yourself all alone in a bar, surrounded by corpses! Where's the dignity, Chris?"
            Chris said nothing.
            "You want to kill yourself? Fine," Rhett continued "But not here, not this way."
            "What are you suggesting?"
            "Go home, see your family one last time. Don't just check out and leave them wondering what happened to you. Don't let them find out down the line you did this."
            "And let them see me like this? Infected and dying? Why would I put them through this?"
            "To say goodbye. To have your fucking dignified end."

November 27, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - The Assholes Inherit the Earth (NaNoWriMo update #6)

[Posted by Ted H]

Soooooooo damn close now. Just gotta power through a slow part, then things get exciting again and I can pound out the last several thousands of words for victory!
Also feel the itch to write something new for the protagonist from last years NaNoWriMo. Exciting, no?

Current status of my 2014 NaNoWriMo: 46,980 / 50,000 (3,020 words to go!)
Current pace has me writing my 50,000th word on November 29


[Race for Safe Haven - The Assholes Inherit the Earth]

            "So where were you when you first realized the world was going crazy?" Chris asked, wanting to change the subject."
            Rhett hesitated. "Rescuing cripple orphans from a fire," he eventually said.
            "C'mon," Chris said "Humor me. I told you my story."
            "Coming home from here," Rhett said "Knowing how the story would sound "I was pulled over and getting arrested for drunk driving when one of these things comes in and kills the cop."
            Chris gave a dismissive sigh as he looked away "I'm just trying to make conversation," he said "If you don't want to talk about it-"
            "This is his gun," Rhett said, holding up the pistol "I passed where it happened on the way back over here and raided his car for supplies. The handcuffs he used are at my house." Rhett didn't see the point in telling the truth, but it annoyed him that he did and Chris didn't believe him. Chris stared at him for a moment before saying "Wow..." and looking back away. Rhett went back to searching.
            Some time had passed and Rhett was finally able to dig up a cigar box where the shotgun shells were located. "You sneaky prick," he said "Hiding Remmy's shells like this."
            "Remmy," Chris said, breaking his silence "Was that the bartender?"
            "No," Rhett said with a pause "That's the name he gave his shotgun. I never did catch his name."
            "You knew his shotgun, but the man himself went unnamed?"
            "All the years I've been drinking here, it was never important. He never told me and I never asked."
            Chris started laughing, for reasons Rhett was sure he wouldn't like. "I don't believe this," Chris said "I leave the safety of my car because I think someone needed help, and I end up with a death sentence. John Doe the bartender gets killed because he dared to open the door to help me. A cop dies because he did his job at the wrong time with the wrong drunk. And then there's you." The last few words were said with disdain. Rhett stood up to be lever with Chris as he lectured.
            "All these good people are dying and people like you get to survive. Why did you even come here? Clearly you knew what was happening. So what, were you coming to check on the people who go nameless to you, or to get a free drink?"
            "Saved your ass, didn't I?" Rhett said.
            "With a gun you took from a dead man!" Chris cried out "I'll never get to hug my wife or kid again, but you get to walk out of all this and get drunk again tonight! Where's the fairness in this? The assholes inherit the earth!"
            Rhett was going to argue, but decided against it. Chris was pissed, but mostly at the bite on his leg. He reached under the bar and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. "Yeah, great idea," Chris said sarcastically "Get blitzed. It's why you're here, isn't it?" Rhett ignored him as he found a clean glass and poured, then handed it to Chris. "You're dying, I get it," he said "And maybe it's not fair that I'm not dying. But this is the world, and if it wasn't fair to begin with, it sure as hell isn't going to improve right now." Chris stared at him for a moment, anger burning in his eyes, then slowly took the glass.

November 21, 2014

Race for Save Haven - Bar Fight (NaNoWriMo update #5)

[Posted by Ted H]

"It's like Walking Dead, if that show had zombies in it" has become my elevator pitch for this novel...

Current status of my 2014 NaNoWriMo: 37,036 / 50,000 (12,964 words to go!)
Current pace has me writing my 50,000ths word on: November 29th

Joooooin us!


[Race for Safe Haven - Bar Fight]

            The next destination was the only one Rhett cared about; the bar. Instead of his usual spot in the back of the lot, Rhett parked right by the front in case he needed to get out in a hurry. He pulled out the handgun and ejected the magazine to count the bullets inside. "Thirteen," he said to himself after counting "Plus one in the chamber." He loaded the gun and got out of the car. As useless as he suspected the gun to be, losing track of how many bullets he had would be stupid in its own right.
            The bars front door was slightly ajar but otherwise everything seemed normal, so Rhett readied the gun low as he approached. He swung the door out of the way with his foot and peered inside, his eyes trying to adjust to the dark interior. He stuck close to the wall as he entered and took in the scene.
            The bar was trashed. Tables were overturned, broken glass was everywhere and large gunshot holes riddled the walls. Strewn about were four bodies, none of them breathing, all with some sort of gunshot damage to their head. "Oh my God," Rhett said as he cautiously approached the nearest body. They were lying on their back with their mouth open and full of something bloody, Rhett assuming it to be a chunk of someone else's flesh. There were chunks of flesh missing all over the body, something Rhett was getting tired of seeing.
            A bloody arm rose up from behind the bar and slammed down. Rhett jumped back and watched as a figure steadied itself on the bar as it rose up to regard him. "Aw man," Rhett said as he recognized the bartender from last night, now with several gaping wounds n his neck and chest, and the same dead eyes Rhett had seen in other victims.
            "Are you...okay?" Rhett asked, not sure if he should respect a reaction. None of the other people responded in any way besides murder, but Rhett felt that maybe a familiar face could connect to someone. The bartender opened his mouth and moaned as he reached over the bar to grab Rhett.
            "Please," Rhett said as he meekly held his gun out and aimed "Don't make me." The bartender ignored him as he dragged himself along the bar and found a way free so he could get to his next meal. "Just stay back!" Rhett screamed to the deaf ears. He waited as long as he dared before firing a warning shot high. The bartender didn't flinch as he continued his approach.
            "Your funeral," he said as he pulled the trigger and fired a shot into the bartenders stomach. He stumbled, but did not relent. Rhett fired into his chest to similarly fruitless results. Rhett retreated towards the wall, trying to create space, almost tripping over one of the dead bodies. "Fuck," he yelled as he steadied himself on his feet, glancing down at the body with a gunshot between the eyes.
            As soon as his back hit the wall, Rhett raised the gun and aimed. The bartender stumbled forward to make his move and Rhett pulled the trigger, blowing the top portion of the bartender's head off and dropping him immediately. Rhett let out a deep breath as he slid down the wall and sat on the ground. "Easy," he said as he tried to catch his breath.
            Some noise in the back room caught Rhett's ear and he immediately scrambled to get up and ready his gun. "Hello?" someone called out as they opened an employees only door and stuck their head out. Rhett aimed his weapon and said nothing as the man looked about and stopped at the sight of the gun.
            "Whoa, whoa!" he cried "Don't shoot, I'm a human!" Rhett lowered the gun and shook his head. "You're the first person to actually say something to me since last night," Rhett said as he walked towards the man. The man hobbled out and stopped with Rhett at one of the only tables not overturned. "How long were you back there?" Rhett asked.
            "A while," the man said "Names Chris."
            "Man, am I glad you're here," Chris said with a smile as he offered his hand to shake. He was middle aged and wearing dark pants and a dress shirt with rolled up sleeves and an unraveled tie draped around his shoulders. He had disheveled blond hair that stuck to his forehead from sweat and a beard that looked like it badly needed a trim. "You have a phone or something?" Chris asked "The line here's dead."
            Rhett shook hands and said "Sorry, left it at home." Chris shrugged "Ah well. I left mine in my car, which I'm sad to say isn't exactly around the block."
            "That sucks," Rhett said before asking "What the hell happened here, Chris?"
            "I wish I knew," Chris said as he placed his hands on his hips and forced a smile. " I leave my night shift and it's the end of the God damn world. Driving home, I see some guy wandering in the middle of the road, all bloody and stuff. I dial 9-1-1 but I can't get through. So I get out and ask the guy if he's alright, and he grabs me and tries to bite my face off. I struggle him off of me when I notice two more guys, all bloody too, and making their way for me.
            "I immediately go for my car.  I figure that W-F disease is making people crazy like the stories I heard about Mexico or somewhere. I never thought they were real until there it was trying to bite me in the nose. I try to drive away, but the problem is my window. See, my AC is busted and I roll my windows down when I drive, so before I could drive, I got these arms reaching in at me, faster than the window can roll up. I hit the gas, an arm grabs my ear and jerks me to the side, it all happened so fast, and I end up going right off the side of the road and into a ditch."
            "Bust up your car?" Rhett asked.
            "It's stuck in there is all," Chris said "Won't take much to get it out but I don't think AAA is answering calls today. So anyway, I haul ass out of there and come across this bar. I pound on the door and call for help, all while the three guys are moaning and crawling after me, and now there's a fourth joining in. Luckily the guy working here gets over in time to let me in, but not before the four crazies shove their way in too.
            "They literally bum rush to door, knocking the two of us down. Next thing I know the guy working here is pulling me up and shoving me towards the back room. He grabs a gun from behind the bar and yells for me to hide in the office and not to come out. He looked pretty bad, one of those things must have bit into his neck."
            Rhett looked down towards the bartender's body and saw the bite marks on the side of his neck. "I came out with a knife I found in back," Chris continued "I thought I could help after the shooting stopped. One of those things were still alive, though tangled in a bunch of chairs after being tossed onto a table. The guy screamed for me to get back where I was. He was in a bad way, looked like he was bleeding out from more bites. Too bad he died before he could kill that last crazy."
            "What?" Rhett asked as he turned to face Chris.
            "The guy was bleeding out," Chris said "Definitely a goner. I was afraid to come back out. I figured if the guy was still alive, he'd come get me, but he didn't. Few hours pass and I hear you shooting and here we are. thanks for killing that last asshole, by the way."
            "Which asshole?" Rhett asked. Chris arched an eyebrow as he glanced for a moment at the corpse Rhett had almost tripped over before. "He was dead when I got here," Rhett said. "Then who...?" Christ asked "Who were you shooting at?" Rhett motioned to the body of the bartender. "Why would you-" Chris began before Rhett cut him off "He was one of them."
            "No he wasn't," Chris said a look of exacerbation washing over him "He was...he...he was infected too?"
            "He wasn't sick," Rhett said, a knot forming in his stomach.
            "How do you know?"
            "I was here last night. He's the bartender. He was fine."
            "Maybe he had the early stages of the disease."
            "Then why would it turn his like this so fast?" Rhett asked as he looked back to the bites on the bartender.
            "But he died," Chris said "How can he turn crazy if he's dead?"
            Rhett walked to the body and looked at where he shot him. The stomach and chest shots were clean hits, fatal in most situations, but merely shrugged off here. He pondered all the injuries he observed to this point. "He was already dead," he said as he turned to Chris "They're all dead."
            "Bullshit," Chris said as he made a face.
            "Look at these injuries," Rhett said as he walked to each body in the bar, all of them with some fatal injury to the neck and face that a gun did not cause.
            "These people went crazy from the infection," Chris said "They didn't die and just get back up."
            "It's the infection," Rhett said "I think it does something to you."
            "And if your bartender guy here wasn't sick, then how did he get the infection and rise from the dead?"
            "...The bites," Rhett said after a pause "The bites transferred the infection."
            "No," Chris yelled as he began to pace "Gotta be another reason."
            "Well what other reason is there?"
            "Just..." Chris began but fell silent. He stopped pacing and sat down in a chair. "I was so careful," he said "I wasn't getting sick. I gave up things I loved and avoided certain friends I was afraid had the infection..." he trailed off as he looked up to Rhett. "I just wanted to help that guy in the street. I didn't know."
            "Were you bit?" Rhett asked as Chris pulled his pant leg up to reveal a bite mark on his calf, a small amount of blood oozing down into his sock. "When they rushed the door and knocked us down," Chris said, letting go and allowing the bite to be covered "One of them grabbed my leg and got me before the bar guy pulled me up."
            Rhett sighed as he walked over towards the bar. "I'm gonna die, aren't I?" Chris asked, his voice taking on a stressed tone. "Probably," Rhett said as he eyed the area behind the bar where the bartender originated, blood was pooled in the corner, suggesting where the tender had bled out and died. Nearby was a double barreled shotgun. Rhett grabbed a nearby rag and used it to pick the gun up with, taking care not to touch any of the blood on it. He opened it to reveal it still had one shell loaded.
            "He had to have some ammo somewhere," Rhett said to himself. "What do you mean "probably"?" Chris yelled.
            "How many people did you know survive this?"
            "Oh God..." Chris buried his head in his hands. Rhett ignored him and continued his search. He placed the shotgun on the bar and began digging through a cabinet. Chris eventually regained his composure and made for the bar, Rhett tossing things out from the cabinet at random in his search for ammo.

November 15, 2014

Race for Safe Haven - Return to the Scene (NaNoWriMo update #4)

[Posted by Ted H]

Halfway to happy hour!

As I check in, halfway done with the NaNoWriMo challenge at the halfway point in the month, I look seductively at next week, where Ill have 3 WHOLE DAYS where I don't work. Thanksgiving and black friday are going to be murderous, so using those 3 WHOLE DAYS OFF to finally get a big lead are gonna be vital.

Current status of my 2014 NaNoWriMo: 20,070 / 50,000 (24,930 words to go!)
Current pace has me writing my 50,000th word on: November 30th

Joooooin us!


[Race for Safe Haven - Return to the Scene]

            Before he did anything, though, Rhett decided he needed to lose the handcuffs. He sat down at the kitchen table where he had left a pile of papers. Out of the pile he pulled out a paperclip. "Doesn't look too hard," he said as he bent the paperclip a couple times and inserted it into the cuff lock. It took a few tries but he was able to pick it open and free his wrist. "Easy," he said triumphantly as he rubbed his wrist and walked away, leaving the handcuffs.
            He showered and changed, sobering up as best he could. His cold was defiantly beginning to weigh on him, but a few cold pills and another aspirin seemed to keep it at bay. He reasoned he'd have plenty of time to rest afterwards. He called up Jake again to leave another voicemail. "Me again, I'm gonna head out and investigate things. I wanna see if things are as bad as the TV says. If I don't call back today, then I'm dead."
            Rhett approached his front door and eyes the handgun lying nearby. He recalled how useless it seemed last night for the cop, doing nothing to stop the approach of the man who would devour him. He picked it up and ejected the magazine. "Nine millimeter rounds," he said to himself, disproving his comment last night that they were blanks. "How the hell was it so useless?" he asked, remembering the bullet hitting the other man where his heart would be.
            Despite his reservations on how useful it might be, Rhett popped the magazine back into the gun and placed it behind him under his belt. Better to have it anyway, he figured. He checked one last time through a window to confirm again the world outside his door was silent, then he opened the door and stepped out.
            There was no one waiting to kill him, but Rhett made sure to quickly walk to his car anyway. As he placed his hand to open the car door he stopped and listened. No sounds of shuffled feet or moaning could be heard. Rhett strained his ears though to hear anything. No birds, no other people, nothing. It was as if the entire world around him was dead, broken up by the occasional noise he would force through the otherwise quiet street. It made him uncomfortable. He hopped in his car and drove away.
            The drive out of his neighborhood was uneventful, but once on the open road, he noticed more than one wrecked vehicle on the sides of the road, usually with the driver side window smashed in and with blood on everything nearby. Occasionally he would see a person shuffling in the middle of the road, turning to see him drive up, and immediately raise their arms and grasp for the vehicle speeding by.
            Rhett soon came upon the spot where he was pulled over last night. The cop car remained, now dark and abandoned without a soul nearby. Rhett stopped his car and got out, pulling out the handgun just in case. It all seemed so different to him in the daylight as he was able to peer into the woods and see if anything was approaching. The large, red stain on the pavement indicating where the cop fell now sat empty. It looked like the body had been moved, though Rhett couldn't tell who or why would do it. The people last night were perfectly content to devour him in the middle of the street, and it wasn't like the cop was going to get up and move himself. "Where are all the bodies?" Rhett asked himself as he recalled that every scene of blood he passed to this point had no trace of a body anywhere.
            He approached the cop car, sitting quietly near all the blood. The door was unlocked as he stuck his head inside. He grabbed the radio receiver and pressed the button. "Hello?" he asked into it "Is anyone picking this up?" The radio sat silent, not even generating static. Rhett dropped it and looked around inside the car. The keys were in the ignition, but when Rhett tried, the engine wouldn't start.
            He reached over and opened the glove box. Inside were various papers and candy wrappers. Two pairs of gloves, one of them fingerless, and a pair of sunglasses were pulled out. Some digging brought out an empty magazine for the gun he took. No actual bullets or extra weapons were inside. Rhett took the gloves and magazine and exited the car. There was nothing of real use inside.
            He went around to the back and popped the trunk. Inside were various pieces of equipment and a locked metal case. "Nice," he said as he ran back to his car and pulled out a gym duffle bag and dumped out the contents. He took the empty bag back to the cop car, then checked around to make sure no one was approaching from any direction. The last thing he needed was one of those people getting the drop on him while he was raiding a dead cop, or worse, another cop catching him there and assuming he was responsible for the cops blood being all over the street.
            He pondered that thought a moment. Technically he was responsible; if the cop didn't pull him over last night, then he wouldn't have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. "I guess my drunk driving really did get someone killed," he said to himself, getting a chuckle out of it. He quickly snapped back into focus. Now was not a good time to be morbid. He began packing the duffle bag with equipment.
            Into the bag he stuffed the gloves and empty magazine along with a bunch of flares, a tactical vest and a first aid kit. He dragged out the metal case. It was locked and needed the proper four digit combination to open. Rhett figured he'd deal with that later and brought the case and bag over to his car. After loading up, he climbed back into the driver seat and drove off.