America the Dead Apple Podcasts Episode: Ten

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/america-the-dead-new-york-podcast-wendell-sweet/id1495878572

Episode ten of the popular America the Dead series: The survivors have gathered a few together, lost one of their own, and now will have the opportunity to bring more survivors into their circle…


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https://play.google.com/store/books/author?id=Dell+Sweet


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America the Dead: Alabama Island Podcast

The second leg of the America the Dead series; Alabama Island. When the survivors in Glennville discovered one another they began to do the same things survivors all over the world were doing; search for other survivors and better circumstances. This series follows the Glennville survivors as they first find one another, and then set out to find others… This series will be uploaded every Wednesday. Remember to like and subscribe, click notifications, so you never miss an episode, Dell…

Read by Ami Adams

America the Dead Audio Podcast Episode 11

This is the audio only version of the America the Dead podcast… Episode 11

Audio on Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/dell-sotofo-com-wendell-sweet/id1496549819

https://americathedead.com/ATD-AUDIO/ATD-11.mp3

America the Dead Alabama Island Episode Two

The Second Alabama Island episode in the America the Dead series. Glennville is a small city located in the northern area of the state of New York. The earthquakes were not as devastating there as some places, but the loss of life is still enormous. This episode focuses on the main characters who have not yet found one another, and the trials they have been through in the first days…

Premiers Jan 21, 2020 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4mbi_UFDyo

AA

Zombie fiction at Barnes and Noble

I walked through the park. There were hundreds there already. In the coming days those same people began to make the park home. But that day they wandered aimlessly. In shock. The subway was shut down, most of it flooded. The buses parked. You could not find a cab. The same with the cops. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zombie-wg-sweet/1129594112?ean=2940045721585

The four trucks sat idling just inside the treeline of the old narrow road that lead down into the campground. The drivers door of the second truck in line popped open, and Beth, wearing military style fatigues and carrying a wire stock machine pistol… https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zombie-wg-sweet/1129599181?ean=2940045727778

The Graveyard:
The moon rode high in the sky. Moonlight gleamed from bits of gravel in the dirt road that lead into the barn. Silence held, and then a scraping came from the ground, muffled, deep.
At the edge of the woods, eyes flashed dully in the over-bright moonlight. Shapes shifted among the trees and then emerged from the shadows… https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zombie-wg-sweet/1129599177?ean=2940155172338

Pearl made her way out of Watertown after escaping from project Bluechip where she had been held captive. She made her way to the Nation early on, becoming one of the builders of that society. She joined forces with Billy, Adam and Beth making the Zombie Killers a reality. https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zombie-wg-sweet/1129599180?ean=2940152605440

She came around noon. I heard the sound of her engine revving long before she came into sight. She took out the mailbox and crashed into the porch and that was that. We were up most of the night talking about how much the world had changed.  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/zombie-fall-wendell-sweet/1114304085?ean=2940044250550


EARTH’S SURVIVORS AMERICA THE DEAD: THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES

EARTH’S SURVIVORS AMERICA THE DEAD: THE ZOMBIE PLAGUES

Earth’s Survivors America the Dead: The Zombie Plagues is copyright © 2016 W G. Sweet. All rights foreign and domestic reserved in their entirety.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

Some text copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 Wendell Sweet

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. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

LEGAL

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 persons’ places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2016 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. Dell Sweet and Geo Dell are publishing constructs owned by Wendell Sweet. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.

POST PLAGUE

Frequent Walker

In this world time moves by, doesn’t stop for you or me. The ones who stop and wait are the ones who never see…

So my feet… move me on though they’re weary of this flight. They will lead me to tomorrow, wipe the fallen from my sight…

In my life I have seen distant dreams of futures past, and the one who filled my cup left it empty at the last…

And my eyes, tired from sight, rimmed in red and slow to see, can’t conceive eternity from the edge of what can be…

Walk alone through this world. Through this cold I’ve always known. Taking only what I need from the seed that has been sown…

And this world sells itself pretty dreams that cannot be, and though we stop to look we can never truly see…

Take my time, tap the glass, raise the bubbles from my cure. Pull the curtains on my pasts, and all I thought they ever were…

As my soul finds its way, push the darkness from my mind. Lay your words upon my heart as my rest I go to find…

Pick me up. Fill my cup. Fix the damage in my head…

Fill my soul. Make me whole. Raise me from the dead…

Show my eyes what can be. shine your light so I can see…

Let my heart lead me on, from your memories in my mind. Lay your coins upon my eyes, speak your magic line by line…

As my sun slowly sets I will try not to forget all the lessons from this world and the souls that I have met…

Lyrics copyright 2010 Dell Sweet

PROLOGUE

Post Plague:

Year 32: October 39th

The Nation

Bear sat at the mouth of the cave staring out over the valley below. This close to the thick plastic the air was cold, but the wooden benches were comfortable, if a little hard. They had served for dozens upon dozens of people since Mike and James had built them some thirty years before. They still served them well. He turned and smiled at several children who sat nearby pointing out different landmarks in the valley far below. The children, especially, never seemed to tire of sitting on the low benches and looking out over the valley.

Bear chuckled to himself, turned his eyes from the other benches, and back out on the valley far below. The snow was falling heavy. Two hours ago late fall had been holding steady, little smudges of green had still existed throughout all the fall foliage in the valley. Now it was quickly becoming a blanket of white. Fall had lost this round.

Years before they had devised a new year that better kept track of seasons and the much longer year the Earth now had. Even with a year that now held some 95 extra days, spread throughout the year to even the seasons out, the time still seemed to move by too quickly. Time was never a friend to anyone, Bear thought. Well, maybe to death, nothing else.

The seasons had worked themselves out after a few years. Some longer, some shorter, it was winter that had come out the winner in that round. Even slightly longer winters had a huge impact on the year around weather and the planting that could be accomplished. It took much longer to get through winter, longer for spring to thaw the valleys and fields for planting, longer for the sun to warm the ground, and glaciers were forming in the north. Growing ever bigger year by year. Bear had sometimes wondered in years past if he would see them come this far. Of course the answer was no. They would not come this far in his lifetime, but he had no doubt they would come her eventually.

Winter was coming in strong, there would be little left to do soon, but plan the bison hunts, and tell stories around the fire.

They still kept their own herds, started from the stock they had worked so hard to bring into this valley, but they often hunted. The habit was good, and it passed the skills down to the younger ones. There were places in this still young world where those skills were essential.

The whole mouth of the cave had been closed off from the elements for many years. Thick plastic sheets that spanned floor to ceiling. An aluminum frame that held them. Warmth inside, the elements without, but always within reach. Something James had built. The last thing James had built, Bear remembered sadly. That had been back when Mike had lead the Nation. No, he told himself that had been back in the council days. Before the wars had begun. Before the years of leaders, kings, the two queens and everything else that had come with the wars. With the end of the Zombie Plagues and the second great death. Even so, even in the council years, Mike had been their leader. The council had made its decisions but Mike had lead them.

Bear had been the leader of the Nation for several years now, he had assumed it when the Nation was broken, falling apart. He had helped to rebuild it, but he was getting older and it was getting closer and closer to the time when he would need to turn the reigns over to a younger, stronger person. Maybe even this winter, he thought, as he watched the snow swirl and blow.

Back in the cave behind him there were three generations waiting to take their own steps into the procession that would bring them to leadership. Some of those young men and women were ready now. It really wasn’t something he should be thinking about, it was something he should be doing.

“Grandfather?”

Bear smiled up into the eyes of Rain, a newborn at her breast, her swollen belly a testament to the one coming. There were so few. He took one of the furs from his shoulder, and laid it across the worn wooden planking for her. A second went around her shoulders as she sat.

“It’s not too cold for the baby this close up is it?” Bear asked. The plastic held the weather out, but it was still very cold this close to the huge plastic sheets.

Rain smiled back. “Thank you, grandfather. No, it isn’t too cold.” She looked out over the valley too.”It’s beautiful,” she said.

“It is, but it can be treacherous. Winter is here now… Probably you should stay?” he asked the last. Too often he came off as demanding. The rule giver. It was something that Beth had always chided him about. His mind clouded at the memory of her, gone now for the last ten years. And him still here, still leading.

“It’s what Ron and I thought too. Alabama Island will be there in the spring. I thought we could send a messenger… Maybe tomorrow after the snow?” She smiled widely. She knew he had been worried, and she was glad that he had given them the time to work it out between them. Glad now to give him what he would consider good news. Bear had already stood and turned though, his large frame standing tall from the rock floor.

“Candace,” he called out.

A young woman came from the back area of the cave. She was tall, dark, short cut black hair framed her face. Her clothes were stitched leather, heavy, well made. A machine gun rested upon her back. A wide belt circled her waist, pistols on both sides, and a knife sheaf depended from it. Firepower was a luxury. Not easy to come by any longer. At one time everyone had made their own bullets, but the wars had destroyed most of that. Now the Nation was one of the few that still knew how to make it, and more than that, had the materials to make it.

She came and stood next to Bear. She looked so much like her mother and namesake, Bear thought, that it amazed him. He had known Candace at this age, the resemblance always threw him when she was here, and made him think for a second that reality had side slipped and he was back in time somehow.

“I will need you to deliver a message to your mother for me,” Bear told her. He stood and walked a short distance away and continued to talk to her in low tones. Rain turned her face back out to the valley and watched the thick flakes of snow fall. When they finished their conversation they both came back to the benches. Candace starred out over the valley, her eyes veiled.

Rain smiled at Candace, but her face barely softened. She was so serious. The OutRunners never smiled, Rain thought. Always serious, and Candace was no exception. Rain supposed she had been the same during her service too, but something in Candace had gone past service, she had come to love it. She had never left it. It was her life. Younger than Rain herself, she had already been an OutRunner for several years. Rain had done her own duty for two years and had then become a wife and mother. She and Ron were going to Alabama Island to be considered for leadership within the Fold. She listened to the low whispers of talk between Bear and Candace and thought about her own life as she did.

She had come to this valley as a child with the original settlers. Years past now. That bought her to nearing her middle years, the age of leadership in the Fold. As she looked out over the valley she realized there was little left of the original settlement she had watched rise from the valley floor as a child. In those days the people had still clung to the old technology. That was long gone now, except with the OutRunners, and some other applications like the power plant, a few others. The people themselves had gone back to simpler roots. The old ways James had taught them. His motto had been, why use it just because it’s there? Do we really want to return to the old life, or do we really want to move on to something else? Always a challenging question, and one everyone had to answer in their own way.

The cave, the ruins of the stone houses; that was all that remained. It had all been destroyed in the wars. There was only a Nation at all because Bear had come back, killed the interlopers that had enslaved the people, freed them, Rain included, and taken the valley back. In those days the Fold was a small faction and the Nation ruled everything. The Nation went on to rule all of North America, but as all large peoples they had fallen. The Fold had ascended, and then they had fallen too. Now the remaining peoples waited for the real end. They ruled their own small places, nothing else. The end that had begun all those years ago was finally coming to fruition.

Those women born before the end had started, those women could reproduce. The new ones could not. The potion that had given them all a shot at living through the catastrophe had caused them to bear children that could not continue the human race. Occasionally one would bear a child, deformed, and they didn’t live long.

Bear spoke, interrupting her thoughts.

“A team is outgoing with Candace. She will tell them to look for you in the spring.” He smiled. “Maybe that will give me time to talk you out of leaving.” He smiled, but it was an uneasy smile.

Rain smiled. He didn’t know why they were leaving. They had told him it was simply time to move. She didn’t know how he would feel if she did tell him, but she hadn’t wanted to hurt him.

Bear turned back to the valley, speaking as he did. “They will know inside of a week.”

Rain made up her mind. “They have asked us to come… To be considered to lead… Mike himself asked for us.”

Bear turned and straightened. “Mike?” He nodded. “I thought surely he would be dead by now, he has been so poorly. Candace is still strong.” He looked from Candace to Rain as he spoke.

“He lives… Mother rules now,” Candace told him quietly.

“… I remember the times we spent there… When it was still good for all of us,” Rain said. Her eyes teared up, she shifted the baby, and looked at Bear.

Bear nodded. “You should not leave here. I have, just today, sat staring out at this valley and wished you would stay so I could offer you this leadership,” He turned away to hide his own eyes from her. “Not so large as Alabama Island, but large. And in need of new blood.” He turned back to face her. “Had I known, I would have offered. I was afraid you would refuse it.”

“I…” she caught herself as her voice broke. “I didn’t know…” She turned her head away and then stood quickly and walked away.

Bear turned to Candace. “I had thought that it would be that would lead after your parents stepped down.”

“It was offered, I refused. My place is here, in the Nation. This valley was where I was raised, not there… I … I refused,” her eyes seemed to struggle to say more, but it was not really necessary.

It was the same with many aspects of the split that had torn the Nation apart. There were sides and they were chosen. After all of these years he couldn’t think of a single reason why he had stayed and fought for the Nation as opposed to the Fold. He reached out and placed one large hand on her shoulder. “I understand your choices. I am glad that there are no barriers between your mother and father and you.” He waited for her eyes to meet his. “I hope to be going with you. I should make some changes here.” He glanced over at where Rain stood talking with Ron.

Candace followed his eyes.

Ron had watched Rain from the seat he shared at the fire with some of the other hunters. He excused himself, and followed her to the back of the cave where they made their own winter quarters.

“Rain?” he asked as he came to her and placed one massive hand on her shoulder.

“He is stepping down… He wanted me to know he would have already given the leadership to us.” She turned and buried her face in his shoulder and wept. The baby fussed for a second, upset at the confinement and emotion, and then went back to nursing, sniffling as she did.

Ron smoothed her hair with his roughened hands. He turned her slowly, and then pulled her and the baby down to the floor where he held her silently for a few moments.

“What do you want, Rain. What do you want?”

“I can’t leave now. I can’t. We can lead here. We can make it bigger. Rebuild it even more from the wars. It could be good,” Rain said as she looked at him with her tear reddened eyes.

“Trade the sea for the snow?” he asked with a smile.

“Leaders can visit.” She shifted around. “I think all the people that caused the wars are dead now. Just the ones who worked so hard to end it are still going, except Beth. Bear, Mike, Candace, Patty, Billy, and Pearl. They are still here. They still want it all back together. We should try to get this all as one again. As Leaders we could do it. I could accept leadership here, you could accept it there. It could work.” Her eyes pleaded with his own.

“They will turn both of us out if we tried that,” Ron told her.

“Not if we were straight forward. Accept leadership here and take the proposal to them next spring. We will already be leaders here. They can only say no, but I do not believe they will say no. I think it is time to put us all back together,” Rain said softly. The baby let go of her nipple and began to fuss. “Poor, baby,” she soothed as she put her over her shoulder and patted her back softly, rubbing for short periods. Her eyes met Ron’s own.

“Tell Bear. Tell Bear and see what Bear says about it,” Ron said after a few moments.

Bear watched the heavy flakes fall. He had not known what to make of Rain jumping up and leaving so quickly as she had. He only hoped it was because she wanted time to talk to Ron about what he had said. What he had essentially offered.

He had shocked himself. While it was true that he had been sitting here thinking about turning leadership over, he had not thought it would be so soon. He had hoped that when Rain and Ron came back from their trip to Alabama Island he could approach the subject with them. Now he could see that it would have been far too late then. They would have left and they would never have come back.

It saddened him to think of passing leadership to someone else, but in another way the responsibilities were too heavy. He was too old. Candace and Mike were both younger, Mike’s health was poor, but Candace was strong. He couldn’t understand why she would give up leadership. A position she had held in one capacity or another for all of the years since the end had come. She was a natural. What would make her consider stepping down, he wondered as he stared out over the valley.

He had been on the verge of rising, going to find Rain, when Ron dropped down beside him.

Bear held his eyes when he turned to him. “She spoke to you?”

“She did, grandfather.” He laughed. “She would never leave you now.”

“It wasn’t meant to make you stay… It was time,” Bear said. He turned his eyes back out to the valley. In the far distance a herd of bison grazed. Whether their own or a wild herd he could not tell. At one time the entire valley had been closed. No longer. A smaller valley on the opposite side of the mountain held the winter herd. Small. What they could afford to keep and feed through the cold months, and the cold months were lasting longer and longer now. The rest were turned loose. They mingled with the wild herds, but they never forgot the valley was their home, and so they could be depended upon to come back in the spring.

Ron followed his eyes and watched the herd of Bison in the distance through the blowing snow. “Big herd.”

Bear nodded and then turned. “You will stay?”

“She will stay…” he paused and let his words sink in. Concern mounted in Bear’s eyes. “She seems to think that I should take the leadership being offered by the Fold… Bring us all together as a people again.”

Bear smiled. “She is like my own blood.” He laughed. A small laugh, but then he let it roll out of his huge chest. “Might give Mike a reason to live after all. I can see it. I can see it.” He fell quiet, watching the bison as they moved more fully into the protection the walls of the valley offered. Their coats were already snowy, carrying the weight of the snow as it hid them from the eyes of predators. Ron watched with him.

“Almost gone already… If I didn’t know exactly where to look…”

“Yeah. I never get tired of it,” Bear agreed. “I’m older than all of them, you know. It’s so unfair. Beth was so young, should have outlived us all. Here I am in my late seventies, almost eighty now… Soon I will be…” He sighed. “Mike is barely fifty, Candace a little younger than that.” He shook his head. “Where did it all go to?” He turned and met Ron’s eyes, but Ron only shrugged as he held his eyes. Both men turned back to the valley, but just that fast the Bison, who had been moving nearer, had disappeared under their walking blankets of white.

“Insulates them too. Hard for me to believe that but it is true,” Bear said. He turned back to Ron. “She’s right… It’s what should have been done long ago.” He stood and turned back into the cave where Candace stood talking to several other OutRunners. The only vehicles they still had were the OutRunner vehicles. Everything else had long been given back to rust and age. The OutRunner vehicles had only gotten better. Built from scratch and modified with more and more technology as they came across it in the old, hidden military bases they sought out on their missions.

Bear stood to his full height and raised his arms high above him. “People,” Bear’s voice boomed out and the people in the cave stopped what they were doing and looked to him. He may have been closing in on eighty, but there was still a great deal of fight in that voice. Power. He waited until he had everyone’s attention, at least those that were inside. At one time there had been several thousand people here. Now there was slightly more than two thousand. Still a great responsibility, and a growing one even with the world on the brink of the extinction. Most were working at this time, but it didn’t matter. The news would find them.

Rain came from the back. The baby gone. Most likely sleeping on a pile of furs with a few others, Bear thought. She came to Ron. Her face tense. Unsure what was about to be said.

“You all know me. You all, I hope, know that I am not pretentious. I pray to God I never have been or will be. I am just a man.” He paused. “There is no easy way to say this, for I love you all. You mean something to me. Every one of you. And if you can look at this in that light you will realize it is past the time I stepped down.” A few gasps punctuated the silence and a very low buzz of hushed, surprised conversation.

“It has never been concealed from you that I have looked upon Rain as my blood. That is why I hope and pray that you will accept her leadership of this Nation.” Bear fell silent and the silence in the cave held for a few moments before the cheers began. With a few seconds the crowds around himself and Rain were so thick they found themselves pushed together and herded back into the central area of the cave. Questions. They would have them. He had to answer some of them at least.

Bear raised his arms and waited for the quiet. “I give you your leader… Will you accept her?”

The cave reverberated with the shouts of yes.

“It’s finished then,” Bear said softly. He said it softly deliberately, to hold their attention for a moment longer. “Before the celebration begins I will explain why it had to be now. When Candace and her OutRunner team leaves I will be going with them to Alabama Island. I will leave tonight with them, and I do not know if I will return. My wish will be to return, but that old dog age is nipping at my heels, and who knows, maybe I will reach the warmth of the sea and wish to stay there.” He waited for the laughter to die down. “You needed a leader now. A leader that can take you to the next place the Nation needs to be. The same place we have all worked to attain, togetherness, healing, advancement. A man or a woman grows, or they die. The Nation is the same way. We forgot that back in the wars. I have remembered it now. Rain has never forgotten it,” his voice fell even lower. “Something I only wish I could claim. Something I am proud of to see living within her.” He met as many eyes as he could.

“God willing I will see you all again,” Bear told them. He turned and embraced Rain as her tears fell and then his eyes fell on Candace where she awaited him. He kissed Rain’s eyelids, told her he loved her and wished her all the best there could be: He then joined Candace. A moment later they were making their way through the tunnel to the eastern side of the mountain where the OutRunners had their own quarters. The laughter and cheers of congratulation falling away behind them.

“You surprised me,” Candace said as they walked.

“I surprised me,” Bear agreed.

The OutRunners were ten all in all. He found that impressive. The first group he himself had formed had been only four. And what they had then was nothing compared to what they had now. Weapons, vehicles, armor and bags of tricks, some of which Bear was sure he himself didn’t fully understand the implications of.

They turned from the main tunnel way into a wide open area filled with large trucks and bustling with activity.

“Ten minutes…” Candace faltered, unsure how to address him. For so long she had addressed him as Leader: Grandfather, when she had been younger, she didn’t know what to do now that he had turned his reigns of leadership over so quickly.

“Bear will do,” he told her as her face colored. “Or grandfather.”

“Ten minutes… Grandfather,” she said at last. Bear nodded and turned his attention to his own preparations for leaving as he waited. He pulled his pouch from one wide pocket and rolled a cigarette.

“Roll me one,” Billy Jingo said as he walked up. “That was so fast, Bear.” Billy told him. Behind Billy, leaning against the wall from the tunnel, Pearl gave a hand wave and Bear smiled and waved back before turning his attention to Billy.

‘Shit will kill you,” Bear said as he rolled a second smoke and passed it to Billy.

“So I hear, yet I am still alive.” He studied Bear for a few moments. “Took me completely by surprise. I thought it would be this… The easy life right to the end, Bear.”

Bear sighed. “So did I, to be honest. Things sometimes do change fast though. And that is what happened here. I had a chance to do the right thing, and I did it. Doesn’t make up for all of my life… A little though.”

“I have always liked Rain,” Billy said. “She’ll make a good leader.”

“You’ll support her?”

“With everything I am,” Billy agreed. “Pearl, Dani too.”

“Bear,” Candace said as she approached. “We need to get going.”

Bear took the hand Billy offered, and then Bear hugged him, pulling him to him. “Been a long road,” Bear said huskily.

“It has. I for one believe you will be coming back. Don’t make me wrong,” Billy told him as he followed Candace to one of the huge trucks. Bear stepped inside and then turned back. “Give Rain a big hug for me… I will be back if I can, Billy. If I can.” He turned back, the door hummed and then disappeared. Billy stepped back as a moment later the truck came to life, and began to roll near silently across the floor to a huge metal door set into the wall. A second later that metal door began to lift, revealing the swirling snow outside.  A few seconds later and the truck was gone. The door down, the floor wet and steaming. Billy turned and found Pearl behind him, she took his hand and together they walked back to the long tunnel that lead back to the main cave.

https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=E__KDwAAQBAJ


Earth’s Survivors

Earth’s Survivors: Watertown

What starts out as a drug deal quickly spirals into the first steps in the fall of the old society… Follow along as we step back in time and tell the tale of the beginning of the end…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/616299

Earth’s Survivors Rising from the Ashes

The end has come for most of the world’s population. Small groups of survivors are picking up the pieces… Learning to live again…
When the sun began to peek over the top of the ridge on the opposite shore of the Black river, everyone filed out to the two remaining trucks. It had been decided that Mike and Jan would stay behind while the others went in search of the stolen truck. They switched on and tested two sets of F.M. radios.
“The range is normally only about two miles or so, but it’s not like there’s anything to interfere with them anymore,” Tom said. “We’ll take three with us, and you keep the other here to monitor us, or if they come back here,” Tom finished.
“Do you think that’s a possibility?” Janet Dove asked.
“I doubt it, Dear,” Bob told her with a reassuring smile. “It’s just to be safe.”
Mike walked over to Candace. Her eyes met his. He kissed her softly, and her arms slipped around him.
“Don’t worry,” she whispered, “I’ll be careful. And I’ll make sure they’re careful.” She kissed him and pulled back.
Mike stared at the face of the two way radio for a long second and then watched her get into the Suburban. Bob got into the front seat with her. Her eyes met his once more, and she smiled reassuringly, then started the Suburban and fell in behind Tom as he drove the big State truck out across the pavement.
Mike and Janet stood quietly as the two trucks drove away. Neither of them wanted to go back inside the cave. The sun was up and warming the old asphalt of the road where it passed in front of the cave, and what little snow remained was already beginning to melt.
“Left here,” The radio squawked. It sounded like Lydia.
“Behind you,” came an answer that sounded like Bob.
Mike shifted the 30-30 Deer rifle he held in one hand and thumbed off the strap that held his Nine Millimeter in his web holster. Janet Dove grimaced and then thumbed the safety off the shotgun she was holding. A short clip protruded from the base of the shotgun, just forward of the trigger. She had two more clips in a small pouch on her side, as well as a fully loaded Three Eighty in a tooled leather side holster she wore.
What must we look like, Mike thought. Aloud he said, “They’ll be fine.”
“Really?” Janet Dove asked. “I truly hope so. I truly do.”
~
The next twenty minutes went by slowly. Occasional squawks of directions came from the radio, and in the distance the sound of both trucks could still be heard. The silence broke all at once.
The radio squealed in Mike’s hand. One word jumped clearly from the static… “Jesus!”… Mike couldn’t tell from whom. A crashing sound accompanied it, and in the far distance gunfire erupted in the still, previously quiet morning air.
The squeal from the radio abruptly cut off and it fell back to low static. In the distance the sound of gunfire continued for what seemed like ten minutes, but was probably no more than thirty or forty seconds in reality. Mike keyed the radio, “Candace,” he screamed. “Candace?”
Gunfire broke out again in the distance. The fast… POP, POP, POP of semi automatic gunfire, but the sharp crack of a heavy rifle too. No answer came back over the radio. Janet Dove made a small strangled sound in the back of her throat and a low sob slipped from her mouth. “No, God, no,” she whispered.

Earth’s Survivors Rising from the Ashes: Gunfire broke out again in the distance. The fast… POP, POP, POP of semi-automatic gunfire, but the sharp crack of a heavy rifle too.