EARTH’S SURVIVORS AMERICA THE DEAD: THE FOLD TWO
Copyright 2020 Wendell Sweet
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Additional Copyrights © 2010, 2012, 2015 by Wendell Sweet.
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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Rochester New York
While Jimmy searched out Hank Nelson, one of his ex-police buddies who had been helping to coordinate things, Frank set off with Gary to find Jessie. Jimmy could fill Hank in, and Jeremiah had gone over to the television station to set a plan in motion, that they had all agreed upon. Frank needed to find Jessie. He couldn’t leave without seeing her, even if it only made it harder for him, and she was also part of the plan they had come up with, and, she needed to know about the children, Frank reasoned.
He found her with Lisa and Connie, in the old County Court House building, setting up the make-shift Red Cross kitchen for lunch.
“Frank,” she asked when she saw his red eyes, “what’s wrong?”
“Nothing is,” Frank said, mildly, “but I need to talk to you…” he looked over at Bessy, the formidable woman who had run the kitchen on her own for three days, “Bessy?” he asked.
“Go on ahead,” Bessy said, “we’re just about finished here anyhow. Jessie, go on ahead, Lisa and Connie can help me serve.” The old gray-haired woman nodded her head sternly at Jessie as she spoke.
Frank waited until they were outside before he spoke. Gary had followed them out, but walked a short distance away. “First,” Frank said, “I love you, Jessie, I do with all my heart, and I should’ve already said it.”
“Jessie, we, Gary, Jeremiah, Jimmy and I have to leave. I can’t tell you all reasons right now… it has to do with something I know about those caves, but we have to go, Jessie. We have to.”
“Okay,” she said in a low voice, as she brushed tears from her eyes, “just come back, Frank…” she burst into tears as she finished. Frank took her chin in his hands, and gently lifted her face to his.
“Jessie, do you trust me?” Frank asked.
“Of course, Frank!” she was crying harder but her voice had taken on a rough edge, a panicked pleading was mixed in with it.
“Jessie, trust me, it’ll be okay, I swear it,” he said.
“I believe you, Frank, and believing will help me hang on,” she replied.
“I… I wanted to say something else, Jessie… Something.”
She put one finger to his lips and stopped his words.
“Frank… Not at a time like this… I don’t trust emotion in a time like this.”
He looked at her for a second and then nodded. He turned to Gary and nodded decisively.
The three of them walked quickly toward the television station, meeting Jimmy along the way.
“All set?” Frank asked.
“All set,” Jimmy answered, “Hank, will see to things here.”
They walked in silence to the station, and Jeremiah met them at the door. “Think it’ll work?” Gary asked him.
“No way to know, but it can’t hurt,” Jeremiah responded.
Two hours later, Frank, Jeremiah, and Jimmy, as well as Gary, were standing at the village of Fairport’s main dock.
“Several to choose from,” Gary said, as he stared out over the muddy banked channel.
“At least they’re not all in the mud,” Frank agreed. “Makes me wish we had John with us. I’d feel a heck of a lot better with him steering us out to the lake.” They had gone to John before they left to find out which was the quickest way to get to the lake, without chancing a trip through the north side of the city. John had suggested Fairport, because of its man-made channel that served the lake.
“Well, let’s do it, Gentlemen,” Jeremiah said, as he walked across the concrete lip of the channel, and out onto a short pier. A length of yellow nylon rope was still bound, although it was pulled tight, around a wooden piling, and Jeremiah followed the rope to its ending, at a fairly good sized fiberglass speed boat about three feet below them. Lilac City Baby, was stenciled just below the port side in script. After carefully untying the knot in the nylon rope; holding it tightly against the wooden piling as he did, allowing the tension to slowly bleed off, Jeremiah jumped down the three feet to the deck.
“Well?” he said looking up, “you guy’s gonna just let me float away?”
The remaining three men jumped down to the deck, as Jeremiah made his way back to steering console.
“No keys,” he said frowning.
“I can fix that,” Jimmy said, “lemme see…” he reached his hand under the panel, and emerged with three pig-tail ends of wire. “I learned this at the jail,” he said, as he slid two of the wires together, “listening to a kid we had in one night, talking about how he did it.” The small red indicator light to the right of the switch lit up. “Now,” Jimmy said, as he touched the remaining wire to the already connected two. “Presto-chango,” he finished as the electric starter began to whir, turning the in-board motor over. He reached to the throttle and edged it forward slightly, while still holding the wires together with one hand. The engine caught, and the low burble of the motor came to him from the exhaust that bubbled up from the rear of the boat. “No probleemo,” Jimmy said, as he released one of the wires. “I don’t however, know how to drive this thing,” he finished sheepishly.
“I do,” Gary volunteered, “I owned one like it.” He took over the controls and slowly backed the boat away from the dock, turned it around, and headed down the channel toward the lake.
“Owned your own gravel pit,” Frank said, “I guess you were pretty well off if you could afford a boat like this.”
“That I was,” Gary said, “but I ain’t sorry I don’t have it all still, Frank… In fact I’m glad I don’t. It was too much of a headache. When this is over I’m retiring.”
Frank chuckled. “Me too, Gary, me too.”
Twenty minutes later they were leaving the channel and entering the lake. The sun rode high in the warm air, and Jeremiah asked, “How long did John say it would take to get there, Frank?”
“Two, maybe three hours tops,” he replied.
“Gee, Frank, how come we didn’t think of this?” Gary asked, with a smirk on his face.
“Dunno, should have,” he said laughing. It felt good to laugh, he thought, and he was pretty sure none of them would be laughing once they got to Fort Drum.
“How are we going to do it when we get there?” Frank asked, to no one in particular.
The laughter died down quickly, making Frank wish he hadn’t asked.
“We’ll see when we get there,” Jeremiah said, “all we kin do, Frank.”
“How close you think you can get us, Gary?” Jeremiah asked.
“Well, if the town’s flooded like I think, we’ll probably be able to take it right into Watertown, and probably most of the way to Fort Drum. From there I guess we hoof it, guys.”
Frank checked the clip in the nine mm machine pistol, before he spoke. “You really think we’ll need these, Jeremiah?”
“I’m ‘fraid so, Frank, we can hope this Jeffery’s guy ain’t there, I doubt he is, but there’s the other guy to contend with… He may know we’re coming, he may not. Hopefully Jessie and Hank can fool ’em for a while… No telling, Frank, but I’m sure we’ll need ’em,” he checked the clip in his own weapon when he finished.
The machine pistols were fully automatic, and each held a two hundred round clip. Jimmy had liberated them from the evidence room of the Rochester Police Department’s downtown office, along with several spare clips, and more than two thousand rounds of additional ammunition. “These will do the job,” Jimmy had said, “if anything will.”
The machine pistols had been taken in one of the many raids on drug houses on the city’s north side, Jimmy had told them, as he had pointed out a room that to Frank looked as if it could hold a small banquet.
The room had been filled to overflowing with weapons of all types, including what looked to Frank to be an Army issue fifty mm anti-aircraft gun. “They use those?” Frank had asked, incredulously.
“Those and anything else they can get their hands on,” Jimmy had answered solemnly.
I wonder if we should have bought the anti-aircraft gun, Frank thought now, as he watched the calm blue-green water of the lake slip by. “I hate the thought of having to use this,” he said, as he slipped the gun into a leather side holster that had been with it. The holster had obviously been custom-made for the previous owner of the weapon and included a long slit in one side that allowed the weapon to be holstered with the clip in place. The initials A. S. were burned into one side of it.
“So long as you use it when the time comes, Frank,” Jeremiah said. “Don’t hesitate, just do it, it’s us or them.”
“Oh I wouldn’t hesitate, Jeremiah,” Frank said, “I just won’t like it while I’m shooting it.” He frowned, but in truth the weight of the gun against his hip was comforting.
Gary pushed the throttle forward as they left the shallows of the lake, and began to move across the dark blue waters toward Fort Drum. Frank relaxed back into one of the vinyl boat seats, and let the wind flow through his black hair. Had it ever smelled so sweet, or felt so good, he asked himself. Probably not, he told himself. He wondered if maybe that was the way it was though when you were about to die. If suddenly everything began to look a lot better, he supposed it was. He couldn’t rightly say that he felt as if he were going to die, but he couldn’t say he didn’t either. He looked around at the others. Gary had a grim smile plastered across his mouth as he leaned into the rush of wind, piloting the speed-boat. Jeremiah was sitting in the seat across from Frank, idly picking at a loose thread in the cushion, a worried look on his face, and Jimmy was leaned back in a backwards facing seat directly in front of Frank, with his hands clasped behind his head and his eyes shut. Frank tried but he could not shake the doomed feeling that had clutched him. It wouldn’t let go, no matter what he tried to think of besides where they were going, and what they were going to attempt to do. He couldn’t shake it, the grip was too tight.
Jeremiah turned and spoke. “Seems like the end don’t it, Frank,” he said in a matter-of-fact voice.
Jimmy opened his eyes and leaned forward as Frank spoke. “It does at that, but I’ve never had much that I cared about in life except my kids, and now Jessie; and now God. I don’t want to die, but it isn’t something I’m afraid of anymore.”
“I feel about the same,” Jimmy said, “no kids, no wife, I thought being a cop was all there was,” he shook his head, “I’m in no hurry to die either…” he shrugged his shoulders, “It won’t make me avoid it though, or walk away from it, I’m in it to the end.”
They both looked at Jeremiah as he spoke. “It ain’t so hard to die. It ain’t something I want to do again though. At least I know there’s something there, and it makes a big difference far as I’m concerned.”
“What’s it like, Jeremiah?” Jimmy asked, echoing the same question that Frank had been thinking.
“I don’t know as I kin explain it well enough…” Jeremiah replied, “It’s sort of like what you think it is. Like…if you think it’ll be hangin’ around in a cloud all day, and talkin’ to angels, I guess it could be that for you,” he paused. “For me it was playing checkers. It was something I used to like to do, and never had time for. I played a couple of games with my dad…” his voice broke softly, “he hadn’t changed a bit, still cheated’. It also means spending time with God, talkin’ to him if you want to. I played checkers with him too, beat him on occasion, course I think he let me. It’s everything you think it is, that’s the best I kin say toward explaining it,” he paused, and sighed. “One thing is life does have a bit on it. The taste of a cold beer, food, Maggie, feelin’ hungry even, life does have something on it. But death ain’t a bad place at all, you kin live there and have it agree with you.”
“That’s a good thing to know, Jeremiah,” Frank said quietly, “if it’s what you say, I guess it isn’t half bad then.”
Jimmy had once again closed his eyes and leaned back against the seat. “It’s a damn sight better than I thought it would be,” he said softly.
“What the hell you worrywarts talking ’bout now?” Gary called out, over the sound of the wind.
“Just life in general, Gary’,” Frank answered. “How you doing?” Frank asked of Gary’s back. “Why can’t you put this thing on auto pilot or something?”
Gary stared over his shoulder at Frank, a look of disgust mingled with a smile on his face. “This boat doesn’t have it, that’s why, mister smarty-pants,” Gary yelled above the wind. “The throttle will stay open, but the steering won’t lock, we’d go around in circles.”
“Gee, so touchy,” Frank said with a smile, as he got up and steadied himself. “I’m gonna watch the water go by, I guess,” he said to Jeremiah as he walked away. He moved slowly up to where Gary stood, and stared out over the water. The waves were choppy and Frank could feel the boat skipping over them. They were hugging the coast line, about a mile out, he figured, and from here the world looked beautiful, he thought, it looked like nothing at all had happened. The vast expanse of water was entirely empty though, and that shattered the illusion. “Worried, Gary?” he asked.
“Nope, I ain’t,” he replied. “I’m ready as I can be, and I ain’t a bit afraid,” he added. “You?”
“We talked about it…” Frank said.
“Heard most of it,” Gary returned.
“What do you think, Gary?”
“Same as you, Frank, it’s a big comfort to know.”
Frank nodded his head, and the two men fell into a comfortable silence as the boat skimmed over the water toward Fort Drum.
In Rochester, Jessie sat in the small studio, staring intently at the television. Beside her John was silent, watching the recording that Frank and the others had viewed earlier.
She had never promised Frank she wouldn’t, and she wanted to see for herself what kind of a monster they were sent to deal with. They watched it all, and as they did the paleness that had crept into Jessie’s face turned red, and her eyes reflected the anger that was building within her. John reacted similarly, and Hank who was also with them refused to watch after the first few minutes, preferring instead to stare idly at the ceiling, as if inspecting it for damage, until the recording finished.
In a small run-down apartment on Hudson Avenue, on the north side of the city of Rochester, Willie Lefray sat talking to Alfred Harding.
Al had been with Willie since the day he had arrived in Rochester. Al was devoted. Totally devoted, and Willie knew he would balk at nothing he asked him to do. He stared at the slight red-haired pimple-splattered young man that was Alfred Harding, thoughtfully, before he spoke.
“Today, Al, today. Take three or four of your guys with you. Do you think you can handle it, Al?” Willie asked.
“Oh yeah, Willie, sure, sure I can,” he responded.
He’s like a fuckin’ puppy dog, Willie thought, before he spoke. “Okay wonder-bread, it’s on you. You get that bitch, and you get her alive, understand?”
“Sure, sure I understand, Willie, what’re you gonna do to her, huh? Gonna kill her or something, Willie?” his eyes shone with adoration as he spoke.
“Don’t worry, Al, tell you what, you want to do her first, Al? Before I do what I have to?”
“Oh sure, Willie, that would, you know, that would be cool, I think,” Alfred answered fairly drooling with anticipation.
“Okay, Al, calm down. Now tell me what you’re gonna do,” Willie asked.
“Sure, Willie,” he answered. “We’re gonna sneak in, and we ain’t gonna kill nobody unless we hav’to. We’re gonna get this Jessie and we’re gonna bring her back to you… Not hurt,” he added hastily.
Willie took a long swig from the bottle between his legs. “Good, Al, very good, now get the fuck out of here and get ready, ’cause in just a few, you’re going,” Willie said.
“Sure, I’m gone already, Willie,” Alfred said as he got up and beat a hasty retreat out of the living room, and through the front door.
Willie listened as the door slammed shut behind him, and took another long pull on the bottle.
He had run out of the white powder. He could settle for cocaine, he supposed, there was a virtual glut of it just laying around waiting to be picked up, but after the magic white powder that Luther had given him, cocaine was nothing.
He had fully expected to be dead by now, and it baffled him that he wasn’t. He hadn’t eaten in ten days or better, and he’d had nothing to drink that didn’t contain alcohol in at least as many days. He sighed. “Fuck it,” he said aloud, as he took another swig from the bottle.
The phone on the coffee table suddenly burred, and Willie nearly choked before he managed to swallow, and then quickly snatch the phone from the table.
“Yes,” he said into the phone, in a small voice. “Yes, today, Luther,” he set the phone back down and got serious about killing off the half empty bottle, “No place to hide, nowhere to go,” he muttered as he drank.
Jessie was angry…No, she corrected herself, pissed off big-time, not just, or only mad, pissed off big-time, in big capital letters. She envisioned it in her mind, PISSED OFF BIG-TIME, that’s what she was she told herself, as she sat at the small table and stared at the blank screen of the television monitor.
John spoke. “You okay, Jessie?”
“No, I’m not,” she said, “I’m Pissed off… Big-time,” she said vocalizing the thought. “What a rotten piece of shit he is,” she said, referring of course to Luther.
“Yeah, he’s a piece of work all right,” John agreed with a sigh, “you’ve got to let it go though, Jessie, we have things to do, and you can’t allow your anger to get in the way of it.”
“I know that, John,” she said, still angry, “I’m trying to get a handle on it, okay?”
“Okay,” John said soothingly, as he got up. “Want some coffee?”
“Yes,” she replied, a little bit calmer, “that might help.”
“Be back,” John said, as he walked off.
Hank had stepped out a few minutes before. When Jessie had finished watching the recording she had been steaming, and it had scared him.
Hank liked things nice and straight forward, and in his mind women didn’t get that mad. Why, women were kind and soft and gentle, like his mother, he reasoned, things like that. But they were never angry, they never swore like Jessie had, and men were never afraid of them either, he had told himself as he left the room. Maybe it would be a good idea if he just took a short walk, he had convinced himself. In fact it was time to take a walk… A long walk. Time to lay low maybe, he told himself.
Jessie drew in several deep breaths, as she sat at the table, and once she felt she had herself under control, she snatched the disc from the machine and forced herself to set it down instead of throwing it across the room, which is what she wanted to do. “Prick,” she mumbled under her breath, as she sat the disc down. She reached across and picked up the disc that Frank, Gary, Jeremiah, and herself, as well as Jimmy, had made before they left. She slid it into the machine and hit the play button, then leaned back into her seat to watch it.