The Zombie Plagues: Dead Road Series: The Dead Road THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES: Dead Road The Zombie Plagues: Dead Road is copyright © 2017 Geo Dell. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety. Cover Art © Copyright 2017 Geo Dell Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Geo Dell This book is licensed for your personal […]
The Zombie Plagues: War
By Geo Dell
Copyright © Geo Dell 2017, all rights reserved.
Additional Copyrights © 2010 – 2014 & 2016 by Geo Dell
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
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.
Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.
This work is fiction.
It is not intended to resemble people or persons in the real world. It is
modeled after a set of characters created by Geo Dell in 2009 for the Earth’s
Survivors books. Any resemblance to living or deceased persons, historical or
fictional events is purely unintentional by the authors.
When I thought about what I wanted my last books to be about, I thought about the back story. I thought about Alice, Richard Weston’s secretary: Never really explained fully. Sammy wondered about her every time he saw her, and that made me wonder. Who was she? What was she all about?
That made me wonder about Gabe Kohlson and David Johns. What was it like working at a top secret facility? Did they ever get tempted? Could the whole place really have existed that long without an incident? Probably not.
I have spoken many times before about Billy Jingo and the fact that he had a life before the fall of the society: Before he became Bear’s right hand man. This is that life. Not pretty, not heroic. Just life like it truly is, or once was for some of us. I hope you enjoy this book. Look forward to one more Earth’s Survivors book to finish the series late this year, if things go well for me and I am able. Meantime, enjoy this one if it turns out to be the last.
“As long as it never freezes around the wheel it will be fine,” Tim said. “It will still work.”
“If it doesn’t freeze solid?” Tom asked.
“If it doesn’t freeze solid,” Tim agreed. “But it may… We’ll have to see,” Tim added.
“It shouldn’t,” Josh said. “I have never known the rivers and streams to freeze solid in my area, and we’re much farther south here than I was. Plus all the changes that have happened: Two extra hours of sunlight every day would make things warmer, not colder, wouldn’t it?”
“Might do something,” Tom agreed. They were discussing whether the power house could continue to operate through the winter. Whether the stream that fed it would freeze solid and stop the wheel from turning.
“Well, what I’ve done is simple enough,” Tim said. “I’ve just vented the water that keeps the generators cool right back out, just down from the wheel. That’s why no ice is forming anywhere around the wheels. That should keep it from forming, but if the entire stream freezes solid then we’ll have to shut down the plant, no flow, no go,” Tim said.
“We’re going to keep the flour mill open?” Josh asked.
“Keeps the water flowing, keeps the ice from getting a foothold. All we do is take out the drive shaft and the machinery doesn’t move, just the big wheel outside,” Tom said. “Now, the sawmill, that’s almost non-stop. I suppose that eventually it will slow down as soon as everyone has built a home, or we finish up projects we want to build, but for now it is full production every day.”
“I can’t see a day when it wouldn’t be,” Josh added. “People are coming in every week. Slower now, but they’re coming.”
“You should think of something else we can use the flour mill for in the winter, Tim” Ronnie said. “There has to be something.”
“Lots of stuff,” Tim said. “But the smartest would be to generate our heat from there. A small boiler system could heat everything in the valley. Add a laundry center, or hide washing, processing, which could use the steam heat too. Use the water power when we need it to grind flour, which is really only about a month and a half out of the year, use the water after that to drive steam into the valley. The two won’t conflict with each other.”
Tom was nodding. “One thing though. Move the hide processing far away. Down the valley somewhere where it won’t contaminate our ground water: Where the stench won’t be with us all day every day. I’d really move it completely out of the valley if we could.”
Mike added his agreement. “How hard would it be?”
“Not very,” Tim said. “I’d put the steam boiler in another building close by; just run the pumping system from the mill building. We have tons of pipe we bought back. I’d run that pipe about two feet under the ground and right directly under the path we use in the valley. At two feet we should be insulated from most heat loss, but there will be an accumulative effect that will keep the path free of snow or ice. Sort of like a heated sidewalk: A bonus. We can top the path with gravel, install good drainage too so it doesn’t end up a muddy mess.”
“Then I’d build the wash house, hide houses separate too. It’s just a matter of running pipe to them. We would have our mill; our steam for heating and hot water all from the same building,” Tim said.
“Tim, what did you do in the old world,” Mike asked.
“School… Video games, little innocent hacking,” He answered. He blushed as he spoke.
“And how did you learn all of this?” He let his hands rise to take in the entire settlement.
“Oh… That… I like to read. I have a memory that works kind of funny. It’s like this: I read something and it goes into my head. Maybe I read something else, other ways to do the same thing. That goes into my head too. Then I visualize it, like I’m actually doing it… Maybe a few times, maybe more, but I see how it works. I see the way to do it. I see the mistakes I could have made too. So when I really do it, it’s like I already did it, I already know how,” he said. He looked prepared to be disbelieved.
“Really?” Mike asked.
“Really,” Tim answered.
“I can see that,” Ronnie said. “I’ve done pretty much the same thing in my head when I’m doing construction work. I work it out in my head and I have it. I didn’t trust it at first, but eventually I came to look at the work I was doing in my head as the same as really doing it.”
Tim was nodding in agreement.
“I’ve never tried it,” Mike said, “but I will: Apparently it works.”
“Why don’t we get together tonight, have dinner together and discuss it, vote on it,” Tom suggested.
“Kate will be up there anyway,” Mike said.
“She and Patty are up there helping with the new work on the clinic, germs; concrete sealed floor, plastic walls… They aren’t doing the work all alone, more like directing it. Steve says it will be a big deal… Cut down on infections,” Ronnie said.
Mike nodded. “So, she’ll be there anyway.”
“They’ll come to a meeting?” Tom asked.
“Positive they will. It’s a good idea. We’ll get all of us together and get it approved,” Mike agreed.
They walked out onto the path that lead back up to the cave. A team of horses was passing by, slowly pulling a sledge piled high with logs toward the sawmill that was farther up the valley. Chloe, who was driving the team of oxen that were pulling it smiled and waved as she passed them by.
Lilly waved to Chloe as she passed her a little further down the road, as she waited to cross the slushy path. She was coming from the cave and heading to the school that sat on the other side, the ridge side of the path, nestled up against the steep sides of the valley where it was protected from the winds. The snow next to the path was hard packed. The snow in the field was three feet deep, and there was at least three months of winter left.
A second sledge came following the first, Joe Stevens waved as he approached her where she stood. Tom had hitched a ride from the flour mill, hanging onto the back of the sledge. He peeked around the back of the sledge and smiled. She couldn’t help but return it. He jumped off now as he neared her, and walked across the sloppy path, taking her hand.
“May I,” he asked as he helped her to cross the path. “Going back to the school,” he asked as he walked next to her holding her hand.
She stopped, stretched onto her tip toes and kissed him.
“Yep,” she told him as she began walking once more.
“Is that any kind of English for a teacher to be using,” Tom asked.
“Yep,” Lilly told him and smiled.
“Hey, where’s my kid who’s usually glued to your hip?” Tom asked.
“Annie’s watching him. He fell asleep after he had his lunch,” Lilly told him.
“Nice lunch. Lucky kid,” Tom said with an affected leer.
“Yeah, well, when he’s done with them you’ll get them back,” she said laughing as they walked across the path.
Tom laughed too. “Got a lot to do?”
“Half a day of school: Kids will be back from lunch in just a few minutes. I just stopped off at home to get something to eat myself,” she said.
“Well, I have more to do with Mike and the guys anyway… I just saw you and wanted to see you, you know,” Tom said.
“Yeah? Well, I know what’s on your mind and we’ll see about that later on,” Lilly told him with a smile.
Tom grinned, watched her walk back to the school, and then turned and walked back to the power plant where the others still stood.
When he reached the power plant and jumped up onto the boardwalk all three of the others were looking up toward the main cave. They all looked concerned.
Tom walked closer. “What’s up?” He asked.
“We have a visitor,” Mike said. He jumped down from the board walk and began heading toward the cave with the others.
“Visitor,” Tom asked as he hurried to keep up.
“Rollie,” Ronnie said. “The trader? He’s bringing our new doctor and a whole wagon load of supplies.”
“Debbie Jenkins has post this morning down the valley. She said he passed by her about an hour ago, so he should be popping up over the ridge directly,” Mike said.
“Came through the old state park entrance,” Ronnie told him. “Says the road all the way in is good... Clear.”
“Parkland,” Mike said.
“Right,” Ronnie agreed. “I guess I’ll never remember the name if I don’t keep it in my head. Anyway, Parkland called the day before yesterday. Told us he had gotten there and would be leaving in the morning, which would be yesterday morning. Not bad time for horses pulling a wagon.”
“Hell no,” Tom agreed.
“Who’s the new doctor,” Josh asked.
“Emmett Stiles,” Mike said. “Older guy, don’t know much about him. Kate talked to him more than anyone else. Says he’ll fit right in if he’s anything like his radio personality is.”
“Huh,” Tom said.
“Huh exactly,” Josh agreed.
They made it to the top of the pass just in time to watch the sleigh approach the steep grade that would bring it to the top of the pass. An older man sat high on the wagon, driving a team of four oxen. The other man sat across from him. The trader drove the horses easily up the incline and onto the broad terrace that fronted the cave.
The man, somewhere south of sixty, Mike thought, set the brake on the sleigh and then looked down at the five men.
“How do,” The man said.
“All right,” Ronnie said.
The other man smiled and nodded hello.
“I imagine you’d be Rollie,” Mike said as he offered a hand. “And you would be Emmett.” He shook hands with the doctor also, and helped as both men climbed down to the ground.
“Rollie drives a fine wagon, well, sleigh this time of year, but I don’t recommend this kind of travel over long distance. This thing needs shocks… Something.” He laughed as he massaged his back with both hands and then stretched and yawned.
“Well, you better hope these folks want you or you might find yourself walking back,” Rollie said and laughed.
They all laughed and Mike introduced the others. “This is Ronnie, best carpenter we have here. This here is Tom, takes care of our farm with Josh, who actually is a farmer and shows us how to do things right. And this is Tim who knows pretty much everything else.” They all shook hands and said their hellos. His eyes were drawn to the huge tarp covered load, the wagon and then the Oxen. “You’ll stay a while?” Mike asked.
The man’s eyes had caught the electric lights spaced along the tunnel that lead into the cave. The tunnel now ran right down the right side of the main cave. It flowed in a curve all the way to the other side of the mountain and the second cave where it emptied out in the main cave area. You could use the doors there and the built up earthen ramp to continue right down into the third valley. He nodded and then shook his head.
“Yeah… Yes, I thought to stay a bit and rest a little. So… You do have electric. Amazing: I know of no other place that does, excepting Southland, and they are barely up and running with it. I was sure you had it, electric I mean, and so I banked on it: Added a few items you might could use… There a place where I can put up the oxen?” He asked.
“Sure,” Tim said. He helped the man disconnect the team and then he and Josh excused themselves as they lead the team down into the valley.
Candace, Patty, Sandy and Susan came from inside the main cave.
“Hello,” Emmett Stiles said As Candace stepped forward. He used a walking stick, but did not seem to need it for anything more than affection. His black hair was long, twisted into a pony-tail that hung between his shoulder blades. A smile rested on his full mouth, his skin a light brown.
“Kate, Doctor Emmett Stiles,” Mike said. He turned and looked from Candace to Patty. “Doctor, my woman, Kate, you two talked over the radio: And my friend Patty, Ronnie’s woman. Ladies this is our new doctor. Come to us from Johnson Crossing.”
Sandy overheard the introduction from just a few feet away where she had been looking over the wagon and hurried over with Susan.
“This is Sandy… Susan. Sandy is our nurse. She took over the load after Jessie left,” Mike said.
Everyone said their hellos and Emmett turned to Sandy.
“I wanted to meet you, Sandy. I have heard so much about you,” Emmett said.
“It’s nice to meet you, Doctor. Candace told me all about you,” she said.
“Emmett.” he lifted his eyes to include everyone. “Emmett is easier on my ears.”
“Emmett,” Sandy agreed.
“Sandy,” Emmett said. “Maybe you could show me around? … You too Susan, of course.”
“Absolutely,” Sandy said.
Rollie spoke up as they walked away.
“She’s telling a different story… Just so you know,” Rollie said in a low voice.
“Who,” Mike asked.
“Jessie. Radio, incoming on a relay a week or so before I left. Says you ran them out in the middle of the night… Says they were lucky to make it out alive. Not all did, in fact.”
Ronnie shook his head and laughed. “Try to do someone a favor and it bites you in the ass. We walked them out, allowed them to go when we caught them about to go on their own with nothing. Gave them weapons, food,” He shook his head in disgust.
“You called it though,” Mike said. A sad smile curved the corners of his mouth downward. “You said it would get switched up and it did….” He turned to Rollie. “We’ll talk more later… Maybe others will want to hear what she said.”
“How’s a cup of coffee sound?” Tom asked a few seconds later to break the uncomfortable silence.
“You got coffee?” Rollie asked.
“Well, instant,” Tom admitted. “Coffee is gold here. We hope to grow some next year though.”
“Now see, that’s why you need me. I think we can help each other a great deal,” Rollie said.
The door opened behind them and several people flooded out of the cave and surrounded them. Ronnie made introductions as Mike kissed Candace on one cheek.
“Well,” Mike said as things quieted down. “Come on in and let’s get some coffee in you.”
“All right,” Rollie agreed. He turned to the sleigh and in a second one corner of the tarp was loose and flapping. A second later he had thrown it back over the load. Boxes upon boxes, Mike saw. Rollie reached in the midst and pulled out a large sack and then an old fashioned coffee grinder. The smell of ground coffee hit him on the constant wind that blew over the pass and down into the valley. Rollie turned back with a huge smile on his face.
“Let’s make the coffee real. And let’s call this a good will gift to you folks,” he said, holding out the old fashioned coffee grinder and the sack of beans.
“Okay then,” Mike said and laughed. He took the grinder and Ronnie took the sack of coffee beans. They walked into the cave together, the crowd all talking at once.
“Easy, Frank,” Gary warned, “you ain’t got but two inches, and you’ll be over the damn edge of the roof.”
“No sweat, Gar’,” Frank replied. “That about where she needs to be, Joe?”
“Looks sweet to me,” Joe answered smiling.
“Frank! For God’s sake be careful, you’re going to fall, I just know it,” this from Annie on the ground.
“No I’m not unless Joe pushes me,” Frank said, and laughed.
“Oh, when you get down from there, Franklin, I’m going to swat that smartness out of you for good,” Annie called up, sounding relieved.
“She will too,” Frank whispered to Gary.
“I heard that,” Annie said from below.
“Shove it up just an inch, Frank,” Joe said.
Frank shoved the solar panel back up, estimating the inch Joe wanted.
“Good, right there, now hold on for just one second…” a heavy thunk sounded as Joe drove a nail into the roof, through one of the panels tabs. “Two more, Frank…”
thunk … thunk.
Gary was holding the side. “’Bout done, Frank. Got ‘er?”
Frank smiled, “Easy as pie…” his foot slipped, and he slid backwards. Gary’s arm shot out quickly, a startled gasp came from Annie below. Frank held onto the panel, instead of holding the panel, and just hoped Joe had enough nails in it. One foot slipped off the edge, the other held however, and the slide stopped.
thunk … thunk.
“Okay, Frank, you can let go,” Joe told him, and looked up. Gary had him by one arm. Joe bent and quickly drove another nail into the roof.
thunk, thunk, thunk,
Frank pulled himself up carefully, with Gary’s help, and then sat down on the rough shingles.
“I didn’t know,” Joe said.
“Neither did I,” Frank told him. He laughed uneasily.
“Honey?” from Annie on the ground.
Frank leaned over the edge of the roof. “I’m fine, Hon. I think I’ll just sit here for a minute though if you don’t mind.”
“Well damn, Frank, lean over the edge and fall off why don’t you!” He drew back.
Joe handed Gary the hammer and the apron full of nails, and began to work on the wiring. He popped the end of the panel open, fished the cable through, stripped it, and began to finish the circuit.
“Uh, uh,” Frank said. He took the hammer and the apron, and began fastening the bottom of the panel. Gary’s arthritis was bad: Bad enough that he shouldn’t even be up here, and he was afraid of heights too.
“Suit yourself, Frank,” Gary said, obviously relieved.
Joe twisted the wire-nut on the last three ground wires, wound a short length of electrical tape around them, and closed the panel front. “That’s it,” he said, as he stood on the sharply pitched roof.
thunk … thunk
“Me too,” Frank said, handing the hammer back to Gary. Gary turned and dropped it over the edge close to the house; the nail apron went the same way.
Joe grinned. “Let’s go try it,” he said.
Seven months of scrounging solar panels, back-up batteries and wiring, and now the moment of truth. Joe waited anxiously while Gary negotiated the ladder, a slow trip. Gary did fine going up the ladder, it was down that was hard, he knew.
Frank waited nervously beside Dell, Annie, and Peggy on the ground, until Gary finally reached the end of the ladder. Joe fairly flew down behind him, the excitement evident on his face. They all walked inside the cabin.
It was the largest cabin at Snoqualmie settlement, built the first year with some help from Jeremiah and Anson, when they had come up. They needed a large cabin, so that all of them could get together. Snoqualmie had grown a great deal in the last year. Joe and Becky had bought Dell and Peggy when they had come cross country from the east. Six months later Frank had come without Jessie. Shortly after that Annie had come and they had become an item: Jessie had come on her own, but she had not stayed long. Lisa and her man Sam, six other couples had followed. Now there were better than seventy people here in the first encampment, and over three hundred in the small valley by the lake: The numbers kept rising.
In addition to the larger cabin, there were seven others scattered in a semicircle, and more than eighty down closer to the lake. Most had been part of an old summer camp for kids. Joe walked to a large electrical panel, mounted just inside the doorway, and waited for the others to catch up.
The panel held the main breaker. They had wired the eight cabins with florescent lights. No outlets, they didn’t have enough panels for that yet. Six large sodium lights ringed the cabins outside. Joe hesitated, his eyes locked on the overhead light fixture. “Here goes,” he said, and then flicked the main breaker.
For a split second, nothing and then, softly, a low hum, almost insectile, as the fluorescent light stuttered to life.
Gary levered the front door open. The sodium lights had a sensor switch that would automatically turn them on at dusk, but Joe had installed an override switch next to the door. Gary flipped the switch as he stepped out the door, and the sodium arc lights glowed softly. Within five minutes they were at full power, shining brightly in the late afternoon air.
“Think it’ll run anything else?” Dell asked.
“Eventually, if we can hunt up a few more panels,” Joe answered smiling. “We did it, can you believe it?”
“So long as you don’t want to build a nuclear power plant next, Joe,” Gary said and laughed. The others joined in, their laughter rolling across the clearing. As they turned to walk back to the cabin they heard the sound of a motor on the quiet mountain air.
“Damn,” Gary said as he dodged inside the cabin and came back with an armload of rifles.
He passed them around as the motor grew louder. “Sarah?”
“I doubt it,” Joe said.
There was one road into the old forest preserve, but none of them had heard the sound of a gas motor in close to a year, the entire settlement used horses. Their outpost was the entrance into the actual settlement a half mile distance deeper into the forest, spread around the lake.
Joe took a rifle from Gary. He ejected and checked the magazine, then slammed it home once more. The rifles were the real deal, full auto at the flip of a switch, taken from some dead soldiers they had come across on one of their excursions for supplies.
Sarah ran Snoqualmie settlement: She had since Jessie Stone had left more than a year before, and had never come back. Snoqualmie had risen from a disorganized settlement of outlaws, desperate men and women, to a respected settlement that was ruled with a somewhat iron hand.
He could clearly hear more than one motor now, maybe three, Joe thought. Frank looked over at him and arched his eyebrows, but the truth was that Joe had no idea who this might be. There were gangs from the larger cities that sometimes raided the smaller encampments, but none had ever come this far out, and Snoqualmie was far from small. Over three hundred people were here: Armed men and women. Gardens were planted. Houses had been built. It was home and they all felt the same about it. No gang would be taking this place from them, stealing their children, raping their women, murdering their men. It was a question that came up often living so close to what was left of Seattle Washington. It was why the rifles had been picked up, cleaned, and put into service. It was why this house was the outpost you had to pass to get down into the actual settlement.
Becky came from the house with her own rifle. She took up a position by a tree on the other side of the main road where it turned in from the old park road and then angled down toward the lake and the settlements. The motors grew louder as the vehicles turned the last corner and rolled out into the clearing that fronted the house. Three sport utilities that had seen better days, Joe saw. Their drivers shut down the motors and silence fell on the day. The tick of cooling motors came to Joe’s ears. The door on the closest sport utility began to open and Becky called out from across the yard.
“I would step out unarmed if I were you,” she told them. The others in the yard had raised their own rifles and pointed them at the door and the person who was stepping from the sport utility.
A short woman stepped out, long black hair; black-lensed glasses covered her eyes. Joe began to lower his rifle. She stripped off the heavy leather coat she wore and tossed it back into the truck. She pulled the glasses down her nose and stared over them to where Becky stood a wide smile on her face.
“Oh god, no way,” Becky said. Her voice caught as she lowered her rifle and moved toward the woman where she stood next to the truck. “Jessie… We thought you were dead, Jessie. We thought you were dead.” she told her when she reached her. Becky wrapped her arms around the smaller woman and hugged her tightly.
“I get that a lot,” Jessie joked. She made room for Joe as he came over and wrapped his arms around the two of them. “I get that a lot,” Jessie repeated.
April 11th 1952
Jeremiah Edison drove the old tractor carefully down the side of the slippery hill. It had been raining for close to three days, and it didn’t look as though it was going to let up right quick, he thought.
The rain was causing all sorts of problems, and not just for him, he knew, but for the cows as well. The biggest problem was the creek, and the only way the creek wasn’t going to be a problem was to unplug the thing.
He sat on the tractor as it slipped and slid its way down the hill through the gray sheets of rain. Jeremiah let out a sigh of relief once it reached the bottom. For a second there, he had been sure both he and the old tractor would end up in the creek, but God was smiling on him today.
He slipped the worn gearbox into neutral, and sat looking at the rush of muddy-brown water. The creek was a good four feet above the point of flooding, and he wasn’t sure it was a smart move to try to put the tractor in that. The tractor was sure footed, but so was a goat, and he’d seen more than one goat end up on its ass. But there wasn’t anything else for it. If he didn’t move the trees that were clogging the creek, and flooding it out and over the banks, then he might as well just sit back and watch a couple more cows drown.
Jeremiah knew cows, pretty much anyhow, and every one that he and Maggie owned were just as stupid as any other cow he’d ever seen. The cows didn’t understand flooding, they didn’t understand how the water could weaken the banks, and so the big dummies just walked on down to the creek, just like any other day, and got swept away when the bank crumbled under their weight. Three days of rain and four dead cows, and though cows were stupid, they weren’t cheap.
Jeremiah sat in the pouring rain and stared at the creek. Normally, the creek was no more than eighteen inches deep at the most. Course normal wasn’t what it was today, he thought, and wishing it was wouldn’t make it so. It was his own damn fault, he reminded himself. Two of the trees that were clogging it had been there last summer, and hadn’t he promised Maggie he’d take ’em out before fall? He had, but he hadn’t, and so here he was in the pouring rain fixing to half kill himself to get them out.
Looked like the best way, Jeremiah thought, might be to try and snag the biggest one right from the bank. He squinted as he shielded his eyes to peer through the rain. One thing was for sure, sitting on the tractor and thinking about it, wasn’t gonna get it. Reluctantly, Jeremiah climbed down off the tractor and edged closer to the bank. The rain was coming down hard, but the section he stood upon seemed solid enough. “Probably what the cows thought,” he muttered as he moved closer.
He walked back to the tractor, unwound a long section of chain from behind the seat, and walked back to the creek. The top of the bigger tree was sticking a good three feet over the bank, and he was glad that it was. He could see that the water was rising faster, and moving along quicker, and he had no wish to get any closer to it than he had to. Quickly, but carefully, he wound the chain around the tree and pegged the links with an old bolt to hold them. Looks good and solid, he thought as he slipped the other end of the chain over the bucket. He genuinely didn’t want to try and turn the tractor around. In fact, he thought, as muddy as the ground was, he’d be damn lucky just to get it back up and away from the creek when he finished.
He gave an experimental tug at the chain, and then climbed back up on the tractor. Carefully, without grinding the gears any more than he surely had to, he shifted into reverse, played the clutch out slowly and brought up the slack in the chain.
“Well God?” He asked, looking skyward, “You keeping a watch down here? I could sure use a hand about now, Lord. Amen,” Jeremiah finished.
He let the clutch out a little further, playing the gas pedal as he did, and let the tractor go to work. The over-sized tires spun, caught, and the tractor began to slowly back up the steep bank, pulling the tree out of the muddy water as it did. Jeremiah released the breath he had been holding, and just as he did the chain snapped in two. Jeremiah barely had time to register what had happened when the old tractor flipped, crushing him beneath it.