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.