Home > Unreal > Zombie dawn > ART OF SURVIVAL


Author:Aaron Category:Unreal Update time:2022-10-17 00:01:10

You unlock the door and remove the wood you laid against the frame. As the door swings open, you retreat a few steps. Johnny screams and runs into the kitchen. Max bounds forward, snapping and barking at the strange man. The zombie swats at the dog, which hops to the side.

You raise the AK-47. Youve fired at a zombie before. The weapon feels light in your hands, and moving targets have never given you trouble. But this is different. This zombie, this thing, has one purpose—to kill. You can reason with it, and he can be scared into submission or ordered to stop. If you miss, theres a good chance youll die, and those odds are terrible.

You squeeze the trigger. The weapon jolts. The zombies head flops backward in one swift motion, and his body seizes up, legs stiffening and arms straightening to the side. A moaning whimper seeps from his mouth. Like a falling tree, he teeters to the side and crashes to the ground.You sit beside the dead zombie. That thing you killed was a man before, with friends and a family. He had hopes and dreams. The virus took them all away, and you ended whats left.

You find a sheet of plastic in storage and roll the body up. Johnny sits and watches, his face like stone. You don think about the task, but just work to clean the blood and drag the body outside. The details blur, and you don think of what you

e doing until its over.

You wash your hands and face and change your clothes. You try to explain what happened to Johnny and just say the man was sick and you ended his pain.

Thinking of what just happened, you feel scared for Johnny With zombies rising from the dead, nowhere on earth is truly safe. Civilization will soon fall, resources will dwindle, and the remaining few living people will fight to survive. How can you keep Johnny alive? Hes your priority, and youll do what it takes to ensure that he has a future.

Time passes, and you know the outbreak won wait while you contemplate the threat of the infected.You check the time—9:00 pm.

"Ares, come quick!" Johnny yells, and you dash to the window beside him. Its tough to see through the boards covering the glass, but you find a hole. A sizable group of your neighbors are crowding the curb outside a home in the middle of the block. From the first-floor window, a tall, older man with a thick gray-and-black beard leans out and yells at the people gathered. Shouts are exchanged back and forth between the crowd and the old man.

"Send him outside!"

"Hes infected!"

"Bring him here!"

You recognize the older man as Sam Makarov, a retired firefighter who lives with his teenage son, Peter. They moved in two years ago, and though youve exchanged a "good morning" here and there, neither have been approachable. Among the crowd are mainly strangers, some holding long sticks, and one has a baseball bat over his shoulder. In the back is Mrs. Ortega, a middle-aged woman who lives around the corner, and next to her stands Tommy Monroe, who must be home from college.

As you stare out the window, you notice the crowd is getting more and more riled, and Mr. Makarov slams his window shut and pulls the shade down. Through the edge of the blinds peek two hands and the shadow of a head, but they quickly disappear.

Instead of anyone in the mob leaving, a few people bang on the front door, then a bottle flies and shatters against the brick wall. A woman in the front of the pack seems to lead them as she points at the door and rallies the crowd.

Seeing this, you decide to go outside and figure out what happening You can stay inside while all of the actions out there. What if the crowd turns violent, and it becomes a riot which threatens your home? And why is this crowd interested in the Makarovs? Heading over is the only way to find out.

"Im going out there. If anything happens to me, or things get out of hand, lock the door and call 911."

"Okay," Johnny says and grabs the receiver of the cordless house phone. His expression seems one of concern.

You leave your home and rush down the street towards the crowd. As you approach, Mrs. Ortega steps up to greet you. "Hello, Aaron. Do you believe this? An infected person in our neighborhood!"

You can barely hear her over the noise of the crowd, and her Spanish accent seems more pronounced as she yells. She wears a floral-print dress which accentuates her shapely body. You remember hearing a rumor that shes a former Ms. Puerto Rico.

"Isn that Mr. Makarovs house?" you say, standing tall to see over the heads of the mob.

"Yes, his son has the virus. The people here keep telling him to take his son to the hospital, that its dangerous, but he won listen. Do you know Kelly? Shes in charge."

Mrs. Ortega points to the front of the crowd, and you spot Kelly Kline, whos holding a stick in her hand and waving it at the Makarov house. Youve never met her before, but youve seen her segment on the local news when she reviews hipster restaurants and music venues. Her long black hair whips around her face as she moves, and she wears a black T-shirt which shows off her tattooed arms.

As you speak with Mrs. Ortega, Tommy steps up to greet you. "Hey there! Aren you in the military? Are you still active, cause Nightfall needs all the soldiers it can get."

"Im still active duty," you say and glance around the crowd, which seems to have added even more people since you left your house. "This is some crowd."

Mrs. Ortega leans in close to speak over the noise of the crowd. "Im going now. Be safe."

"Can you believe this?" Tommy says, catching your attention once more. "Zombies and infected people. This is crazy." He drags out crazy for emphasis, though you can barely hear him over the crowd.

"So do you think theres an infected person in there? In Mr. Makarovs house?" you ask.

"Thats the word on the street. I never met Mr. Makarov or his son. Im a bit older than Peter. You must have met him at some point, since you live right across the street from him."

Before you can answer, someone bumps your back, pushing you into Tommy. Chants of "bring him out!" repeat over and over again like cheers at a football game. Standing among dozens of agitated people has you on edge, and you keep watch for any sudden movements or hints that this mob is turning violent.

"Its too crowded here. Lets move up. Theres someone you should meet," Tommy shouts. "Come with me."

Tommy grabs your arm and pulls you around the edge of the crowd to lead you to the front. As you approach the Makarovs home, Kelly Kline stands out as she leads the crowd in shouts and chants demanding Mr. Makarov bring his son outside.

"Kelly, this is Aaron," he says as you reach the front line of the mob. "He is a commander in the Army and knows all about the virus."

"Hey, glad you

e here," she says and takes you to the front of the Makarov house. "The kid in there is infected. His father won admit it and won bring his son out here so we can see for ourselves. But maybe hell listen to you."

If what she says is true—an actual infected person living in your neighborhood—the virus could easily spread, endangering everyone. Plus, hell eventually turn to a zombie. But it sounds like Kelly and the rest of the crowd only suspect that hes infected.

Kelly turns and faces the crowd. "Hey everyone, listen up! We have a soldier here now. He will make the infected kid come out." She turns to you and leans in close. "Should we knock on the door, or do you want to talk to the crowd first?"

As you speak with Kelly, the crowd pushes closer to the house, and some are readying rocks and bottles to throw. What proof do you have that the boy you is infected you ask Kelly

she replied "I was doing a report on the restaurant around the corner, and my car is parked over here," Kelly says and points to a silver hybrid by the curb. "I passed by the window and saw this guy, maybe in his late teens, standing there, shivering and huddled under a blanket. His skin looked yellow, and he was twitching and making weird facial expressions. Im telling you, hes infected, and when he turns into a zombie, hell kill that old man and likely kill a lot more."

The crowd in earshot of Kellys speech all show signs of support and appear on the edge of breaking down the front door. A bottle passes overhead and shatters on the brick wall. Kelly holds up her hands to hold back any further action.

"Whats it going to be? You bringing that kid out, or do we have to do it?"

You knock on the man door in order to speak with the man. If the crowd gets any more incited, theyll riot and break into the Makarov house. Violence will likely erupt, and you need to help mediate the situation before it leads to that.

You climb the front steps and knock on the front door. "Mr. Makarov, this is Captain Aaron Amah. May I please speak with you? The people out here are worried, and if I could speak with you for a few minutes, maybe we can resolve—"

"Go away! Damn you all!" Mr. Makarov yells through the door, and you hear the stomping of boots walking away from inside.

The mob grows louder and angrier. A bottle flies overhead, striking the brick wall behind you, showering the pavement in glass. Rocks now strike the windows, and a few people in the mob rush up and pound on the front door. Voices rise above it all, calling for the infected boy to be delivered outside.

As the crowd chants their demands, the second-floor window opens, and Mr. Makarov leans outside and shouts down at the mob. "Get out of here! All of you!" He draws a long rifle through the window, aims it, and fires it once into the air with a boom.

Panicked screams rise from the crowd. People scatter in all directions. Some run behind parked cars, while most sprint down the street or return to their own homes to escape the madness of whats unfolding. You are tossed aside as several large figures barrel into you on their way past.

Kelly stands her ground at the front steps. "Your son is sick. Hell infect us all—"

"Leave my home!" Mr. Makarov yells, and he aims down at a trash can and fires, sending the bin into the porch of a nearby house. Garbage flies into the air, littering the area. At this, even Kelly rushes away, and you cross the street and head home, unsure of what Mr. Makarov might target next.

From the far edge of the street, a voice booms through a bullhorn. "This is the National Guard. Your area is under a strict curfew. Return to your homes."

A trio of armored Humvees roll through the street in a line, and the voice of the soldier reverberates through mounted speakers, repeating the message. You rush down the street. Spotlights shine from each vehicle, shooting bright circles from house to house. Doors open and close, curtains slide past windows, and the street turns desolate save for the three roaring military trucks. Mr. Makarov and his rifle disappear, and the lights turn off in his home.

As the spotlight passes your home, invading it with a beam of bright white, you run inside and lock the doors. From a distance comes the shrill howl of the living dead mixed with gunfire, reminding you that this is the safest place to be for now.

Your stomach churns and throat feels dry, so you head into the kitchen for a quick meal. You haven eaten since the morning and need to get some fuel into your body. Having a well-stocked kitchen means you have a wide range of food. You

e not sure how long it will all last and have no idea when, where, or how youll restock. Will grocery stores be open tomorrow? Being an excellent cook, you know how to stretch out your meals.

Considering you have 100 meals worth of food, you make a large meal With food plentiful, you want to load up on protein and carbohydrates to have enough energy for whatever may come next. You cook a huge portion, and with your cooking skills you

e able to combine ingredients and construct a meal that provides an abundance of nutrition. You ready the meal in less time than normal, too. Johnny sits next to you with a stack of comics and picks at his food. From time to time, he glances at you, but as soon as you look over, he turns away. This goes on throughout the meal until you take your last bite. He picks up a can of soda and scrapes the empty can with his fingernail. "Ares, what are we going to do?"


e going to stay here and be safe."

"Yeah, but…we can be here forever. We don even need to be here now that Mom…" he says, but his words trail off.

"When we need to go out, we will. For now, this is the safest place."

"Right, but we need a plan. Like Major Falcon in Earth Saviors says. You always need a plan. Whats our plan?" Johnny holds up a copy of his comic book and points at the graphic of a soldier in a green uniform with a falcon insignia.

Knowing your nephew, he likes to help and give input into situations."Maybe you can help me with a plan Johnny smiles and leans across the table. "Of course I can help. Let me think about this." He walks to a counter and pulls out colored pencils and a pad of yellow lined paper, and back at the table he sketches and draws notes for some strategic initiative rattling around in his head.

After you finish your meal, you fill Maxs bowl with pet food. With the bag almost empty and maybe one meal left, soon youll have to use your own food for him or go out to obtain more.

After the meal, you consider your next move.

You sit at the desk in your living room and open your laptop. With your science background, you

e in a rare position to research a cure for this virus or develop a vaccine. Sure, it will take resources that are in short supply or completely lacking. Youll need a laboratory, and not just a basic high-school lab, but one with advanced tools for examining viruses. Youll need to obtain dozens of samples and specimens taken from the infected and from zombies, live cultures that can be maintained. And youll spend countless hours of time—time that might be better spent on surviving—for the infinitely difficult chance of a breakthrough.

What are the alternatives? Watching everyone around you succumb to the virus? Become infected yourself? You have the mind for research and the background for studying viruses. Mostly, you want to study the virus in order to

Develop a treatment for those infected Until you learn differently, curing the infected is the priority to save humankind. So many people are suffering, and you must find a way to treat them. Whats the alternative? If the virus spreads unchecked and kills everyone it has already infected, the world is doomed. Millions will die and society will be devastated, leaving a small percentage of people to survive together in an ongoing uphill struggle. If theres a way to reverse the damage done by the virus or to halt the disease, civilization will be saved. Treating the infected must be your focus.

For now, you can gather samples from the infected to analyze later. You open a spreadsheet on your laptop and enter a column for specimens. Under it, you include space to record collection of the most important samples:

- Arterial blood: an easy sample to obtain, and hopefully you can learn how the virus behaves in a stream of oxygenated blood.

- Venous blood: the easiest sample to obtain. Virus should be plentiful here.

- Brainstem tissue: dissecting brain tissue can be tricky, but you could learn a lot from examining the virus in it.

- Lesion tissue: easier to dissect than the brain, lesions are caused by the virus. Does Zeta leave itself inside these areas of pigmented skin?

- Cerebrospinal fluid: since the infected decompose at a rapid pace, obtaining fluid from the spinal column can be tricky. Examining this fluid might give you great insight into Zeta.

You bring up your favorited contacts and dial Jaime. The phone rings six times with no answer, then voicemail clicks on. You leave a message for Jaime asking him to call back anytime. Immediately, you receive a text message, and Jaime tells you to try him on your CB radio, SSB channel 40. You haven used the CB much since he gave you one (he won two in a state fair).

On channel 40, you announce yourself and hear Jaimes unmistakable baritone voice in reply.

"Believe in zombies now?" he asks.

"Its hard not to."

"Colorado was hit hard, along with Philadelphia and Miami. Its spreading fast, though. Anyway, how are you?" he asks in a more serious tone."Not good. I found out my sister passed away.""Im so sorry to hear it. I heard most hospitals are overrun, so Id hoped she was moved before anything happened," Jaime says, his voice shaky. "Im just so sorry, though. Words can express it."

You tell Jaime about the phone call and the way you were told about your sister. The two of you spend a few minutes discussing your family, and in true Jaime spirit, he recalls stories about her. Hearing how he feels about her lifts your mood.

"Where are you now?" you ask.

"Whos that?" Johnny asks.

"My friend, Jaime," you say. Johnny leans over the table and stares at the CB radio. He reaches for a knob, and you push his hand away.

Static flares up on the channel but disappears. "Can you hear me, Aaron? Okay. I left my apartment. It wasn safe. Im right outside the city and headed your way. Once I find a safe place, Ill contact you. You can join me there."


e assuming the worst, then?"

Jaime sighs. "Im preparing for the worst. The government is going to try to quarantine everyone and stop travel. Theyll try to stop the spread of the virus, but theyll fail. This disease is moving too fast. Civilization will break down in the next few days. With the lack of food, medicine, and stuff people need, theyll loot and rob and do whatever to survive. Im hitting the ground now and setting up before that all goes down."

Jaime often plays the role of conspiracy theorist, but this theory gives you something to seriously consider.

"Make sure the house is secured, locked, and boarded up," he says.

"Did that. The doors and windows are barred shut," you say.

"Gather all your supplies, too. You might lose electricity and water soon, so charge your phone and collect any batteries. Fill your bathtubs and sinks with water now."

"I have collected all the food and supplies and piled them up in my living room," you say.

"With the infected, always go for the head. Shoot it, stab it, whatever you can to destroy the brain. They

e already dead, so feel no remo—"

Through the CB, you hear a siren zoom by, and Jaimes side cuts off.

"Jaime! Jaime!" you yell. The channel fills with static. You call for Jaime over and over again for several minutes, with no reply. You scan other radio channels but find no trace of Jaime. After thirty minutes, you shut off the CB and consider your next move.

You head to the bathroom on the second floor and turn on the faucet in the tub. Warm water still flows, and you stopper the drain so the tub fills up. You do the same to the sink, then collect some empty bottles and fill them up, collecting four bottles of water. You head back downstairs and plan to check later to turn off the water once both the sink and tub have been filled.

You called your neighbour fred.

"Hello," he says in a garbled voice. The sounds of chewing come through the phone.

"Hi, Fred? This is Aaron from next door."

"Oh, hey."

"How are you doing?"

"Fine. Im eating chili. Ill save you some. I made a lot. Id bring it over, but we

e not supposed to leave our houses." Fred speaks with a slow, almost lazy drawl. "Bye."

Saturday, May 12, 2012

You awaken to a stream of sunlight, rousing you from a restful night of sleep. You feel physically refreshed, even though your alarm system went off several times last night, waking you up and forcing you to check the house for intruders. Today will be critical—either the governments of the world have figured out a way to deal with the infection, or the zombie plague has won. No other options exist.

You rise from bed. Today will present a whole host of challenges, but you feel ready to face them. Surviving will take courage and resilience, and youll muster up enough of both of them to deal with anything this new world throws your way.

Your stomach growls like a pissed-off zombie. You have enough food to last a few days, but if martial law persists, you won be allowed to leave your home to restock. How long could you be forced to stay inside? Is it even safe to leave? The infection spreads at an incredible rate, and zombies roam unchecked through the streets. If you leave the safety of your home, what will civilization resemble on day two of the apocalypse?

Weeks ago, you watched a documentary on Hurricane Katrina, one of the most powerful natural disasters in US history. In the aftermath of the destruction, the affected areas fell into chaos: infrastructure failed, people looted stores and residences for essential items, and violence increased among the survivors. After the outbreak, can you expect the same impact on all of civilization?

You step to the window and peer outside. The street is empty of people. An overturned car blocks one end, and a military jeep is sitting at the other. From a distance comes the chug and roar of a truck. The wind whistles and blows hard against the side of the house, and the snow has melted away. Its as if the whole world has gone on vacation and left you on standby.

And then, as if answering the call, you spot a figure staggering around the corner of the street in the tell-tale manner of a zombie. He stops and looks up, his mouth opens, and he screams, mocking you, telling you that zombies roam the earth, and its their world now. He might be right.

Peering through the window, your mind wanders about the day ahead. Your highest priority is to teach Johnny about survival skills,Your nephews welfare is all that matters now. To keep him alive, you need to teach him how to survive in a world full of things wanting to kill him, or worse—steal his innocence.

Your second priority is to use the satellite phone Colonel Faulkner gave to you

The outbreak is running out of control, but the government has a plan. You

e a soldier, and you need your orders. Colonel Faulkner said hed reach you within twenty-four hours, and hell tell you what role youll play in restoring order to this godforsaken world.

A garbage truck barrels past the corner of the street, its heavy motor clanking and sputtering. You pull the window shade down and cross the room to your bathroom. You use the last of the toilet paper, and you realize after showering and brushing your teeth that you

e running out of shampoo and toothpaste.

You exit the bathroom and head to the closet. Cleaning off the service uniform you wore yesterday, you put it back on. You flick the light switch, but nothing happens. Has the bulb burnt out? You try the lamp, and pale light shines through the room.

You dress in the dark and then head into Johnnys bedroom down the hall. Yesterday, you found out his mother, your sister, had died in the mayhem of the outbreak. You haven had time to mourn, and you worry Johnny hasn dealt with the impact. As you walk into the room, he sits on the edge of the bed, neatly made, and his clothes are on like hes ready to meet the day. Your nephew—ever the little trooper.

Max leaps from the floor and prances over to you, wagging his tail.

"Good morning," your nephew says, straightening up on the bed. His two front teeth are spaced apart, giving him a goofy grin. At least hes smiling.


e up early. Nice job on cleaning your room. How are you feeling?"

"Okay. Hungry. I was gonna go downstairs, but I…" he says and glances to the floor. "Wanted to wait for you."

"Lets go," you say and head downstairs to start the day.

When you reach the first floor, you first check for any signs of break-in. Looking outside, you see a brownish fluid—most likely zombie blood—splattered on the front steps and wall of the house. Moderate damage was done to your home, though the door still remains intact, and only the front windows are shattered. The kitchen door has a few scrapes on the exterior, though the yard door has been broken.

"Wow," Johnny says. "I hope none of them got in. Think any zombies got in last night, Ares?"

"None got in. They tried, but they didn make it. We better clean up."

You stand in the middle of the living room and feel a low rumble in your stomach, though the distant shrieks of the infected outside the walls and sporadic gunfire draw your attention away from thoughts of a solid breakfast. You walk into the kitchen to prepare some food to give you energy for the day to come.

Before the outbreak, you never worried about food and clean water. A simple walk to the grocery store or phone call for food delivery took care of your needs. With the current state of civilization, food has become even more valuable, so you have a moment of panic when you don hear the hum of the refrigerator. You yank open the door and check your remaining food. You typically eat 4-5 portions per normal meal. You

e not in any danger of starving, but only have a few days worth of food left if you conserve.

Johnny heads to a cabinet and takes out plates and silverware. He sets the table with precision, with the napkins folded and knives and forks in perfect alignment.

Max sits beside you, looking up and drooling.

You check your pantry and see the near-empty bag of pet food, and when you open the bag, a strong odor wafts out, causing a wave of nausea. The food must have gone bad, and somewhere in the stress and commotion, you ran out of Maxs food. You gave him a normal meal,Conserving food during the quarantine might be a smart strategy, but now is not the time to restrict Max.

Max devours the food in his bowl as soon as you set it on the floor.

You turn the burner on the stove and hear the puff of gas before the flame ignites. The sink also works, though water trickles out no matter how far you turn the hot or cold taps. Content that these utilities all still work, you consider how much to make for breakfast.

You make a typical breakfast You have no idea what challenges today may bring, but you want to start off with a typical breakfast. You make an omelet with vegetables and cheese. In addition, you fry up a few strips of bacon for you and your nephew. Soon, the table has two plates of steaming and aromatic food.

"Wow, this is a nice breakfast. I hope we don run out of food," your nephew says and digs his fork into the eggs.

"Well, we need to keep our strength up," you say.

Johnny stares at his plate and prods bits of hash brown with his fork. He scoops a large portion and keeps filling his mouth until his cheeks puff out. When he meets your gaze, he swallows hard and drinks some milk.

"Ares, can we talk about something?"

"Sure. Whats up?"

He jumps from his chair and clears the dishes from the table to the sink. He takes a washcloth and wipes the table. "Wait here," he says and rushes into the living room. At the flurry of activity, Max looks up from his spot on the floor.

You hear the sounds of feet shuffling over the rug and your nephew talking to himself. A few minutes pass, then he bursts back into the kitchen with a large, square piece of cardboard, a bunch of action figures, and colored markers, all spilling out of his arms. They tumble over the table as he kneels on a chair, and he lays the cardboard flat. On it, shapes are drawn and colored, and you can make out trees and cars, large vehicles, and your own house.

"Okay, we

e gonna run out of stuff we need, like food, soda, candy, soap…stuff like that. This is a map of where we are, and we can figure out where we want to go to find stuff."

He sets up two large action figures together at the brown block marked "home" and scatters smaller figures of beasts and monsters around the rest of the board.

"Major Falcon and Captain Grunt are you and me," he says and slides the two figures to the edge of the map. "The trolls are the zombies…these ones are other people. The lady on the news said people are stealing from stores, but maybe they haven taken everything. So I made a plan for where we can go and how to get what we need. I know a few places people aren going to look for food and supplies and stuff, and if we follow the way I drew, we can get there safe."

Johnny traces his finger along a dotted, green line on the page, which splits and continues toward two landmarks, his grade school and his doctors office.

"These places have all kinds of stuff, and no ones going to rob them. I bet we could find all kinds of good things." He leans back and pushes his glasses up on his nose, waiting for your reply

"Im really impressed, Johnny. Why don you tell me the details of your plan?" I say to encourage him.Your nephews face lights up as he dives into his plan. "Dr. George is a real nice doctor, and the building with his office has a gate around the whole place. No ones getting in, but if you say Im sick, hell have to let us inside."

Johnny moves the two large figures to a red building with a gray, dotted line around the perimeter.

"Then we can go to the school. They have everything we need. In the cafeteria, theres pizza, soda, chicken nuggets, cheeseburgers, and ice cream sandwiches. But theres more. Theres science class with chemicals and stuff, and the nurses office has medicine."

Johnny drags the figures of Major Falcon and Captain Grunt across the map to a series of blocks. "What do ya think?"

"This is pretty incredible. Im real proud of you for figuring all of this out. Lets clean up for now, and Ill figure out the best way to use your plan. Okay?"

Your nephew nods, his head bobbing with enthusiasm, and he balances the figures on the cardboard map as he carries it into the living room.

After breakfast, you spend a short while clearing the table, cleaning the pots and dishes, and washing the stove and sink. After finishing in the kitchen, you head to the living room. You hear the unmistakable noise of the garbage truck passing your house. You doubt the sanitation department is still servicing the area, so why is it driving through your neighborhood? Just as you step through the swinging door, you spot Max at the front door, scratching and pawing to go outside. You haven walked him since yesterday, and he hasn gone to the bathroom in the house…yet.

You check the time—8:45 am.

The house phone rings—Jaimes name appears on the caller ID.

"Jaime? Are you okay?"

"Yep, Im good for now. Something interfered with my CB yesterday when we spoke, but now my phones working. Weird. So, hows it going?"

As you hear his voice, you feel a sense of relief, and you fill Jaime in on everything thats happened since you last spoke.

"Is that Jaime?" Johnny says and reaches for the phone. "Let me talk to him."

"Not right now," you say.

"Tell Little Guy I said hey," Jaime says.

Johnny plops down on the couch, folds his arms, and pouts.

"I don know your plans, but it might be best to stick it out there for now. How are you on food?" he asks.

"Pretty good. I have a few days worth of food."

"Great. Good planning," Jaime says. "This isn going to be over anytime soon. It sounds like Colorado has been hit hard. Looks like we

e being quarantined. The military set up checkpoints, and FEMA camps are going up outside of quarantined areas. Id be careful if you do go out. Theres news of widespread looting and rioting. I met up with some people not far from where you are, just to be safe overnight. Im leaving them in a bit and will scout out some safe havens for us. If you need me, though, don hesitate to call. Ill make my way there. Damn, I gotta go. Ill see you soon. Stay safe, my friend."

"Okay, Jaime."

"Goodbye, Jaime," Johnny yells in the background.

The call ends, and you consider your next move.

To acquire a vehicle With so many abandoned vehicles outside, finding one suitable to your needs should be an easy task.

"Where are we going?" your nephew says, so fast it sounds like one word.

"Im just going to find a car or some vehicle to use. I won be far. Can you wait here for me, please? It won take long."

"Sure," your nephew says with an upbeat tone.

You step outside and look through the area around your home. Numerous cars are parallel-parked on the street just outside your house and the avenues connected to your street. After a quick tour of the vehicles available, you inspect the…

Four-door sedan.

A rather average car, the sedan offers good maneuverability while being durable and providing space for numerous passengers Having settled on the sedan, you search the area and luckily find the keys tucked into the wheel well. You drive the sedan back home and park it on the street right by your front steps.

You set up a Solar powered generator Having crafted the generator to run on solar power, you plan to make use of it should the power go out.

You carry the generator outside to the yard along with the tools youll need. Finding a spot without shade or obstruction, you aim the solar panel so it gathers as much sunlight as possible. Hooking the generator up is no easy task, but over the course of the next hour, you connect the machine to your houses electrical power breaker. In the event of a power outage, the generator should kick in.

With your work done, you head back inside your home.

You check the time—10:30 am.

As you pass by the window, you hear a loud moan close to the front of your house. You find a gap between the boards covering the glass and look outside. Across the street stumbles a man wearing the tan-and-white camouflage of the National Guard. He grips a pistol in one hand, and the other holds a bloody cloth to his neck. As he moves onto the curb outside your home, he looks over his shoulder, and you read fear on his face. Suddenly, he trips on the knotted root of a tree jutting through the cracked pavement, then he tumbles and lands on your lawn. A moment later, he rolls onto his back with a subdued moan, and his hands fall to his side. From thirty feet away, you eye the wound on his neck, but its so covered in blood, all you can see is red. You study him as he lies there and notice the bulging pockets on his uniform.

"We have to help him," Johnny says in an agitated tone as he leans on the windowsill and stares at the action.

You scan the street and see no other movement, save for some trash blowing in the wind and a blackbird coasting between telephone poles.


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