Tom and Eric were repacking the bags again. After the sun had come up, the two of them had gone down to the basement again and found another cache of canned goods. The haul back to camp would be heavy and slow, but the food was worth it. John Walker could hear them discussing the placement of items on the bags and how best to pack them as he passed by the open front door on his path around the house.
John looked behind him just in time to see the dog they’d found disappear around the corner of the house in the opposite direction. He was tired. Sleeping outside the wall had put him back into the alert mode he’d hoped he was done with when they settled down. Four hours sleep just wasn’t enough, but it was all he could manage. He stopped his patrol and leaned up against the porch of the house.
His canteen was nearly empty, and he finished it off in just a couple swallows. Just as he was beginning to relax he heard barking coming from the back of the house. John dropped the empty canteen and pulled his weapon to the ready. He started careful steps around the building.
The barking continued, mixed in with a few snarls and just as he stepped into view of the back yard it was replaced with yelping. Training and instinct took over as he saw the dog being pulled apart by two zombies, John fired a single shot into the dog, ending its suffering. He put another two rounds into the zombies, one in the chest and one in the arm.
“Get your shit together now,” he yelled. “We are leaving!” John fired another two rounds and the zombies dropped to the ground from the impact, but now he could see several others shambling in from the neighboring street and the two he’d shot were moving again.
He glanced at the motionless form of the dog and then turned back to the front of the house. Tom and Eric were coming out the front door with their backpacks on. John slung his M-16 over his shoulder and held out his hands. Eric tossed a duffel bag to him.
“What’s up? Where’s the dog?”
“Dead.” Tom and Eric exchanged glances. “Move. Now.” John was already heading back toward the wall and the other two men had to jog to catch up. Their pace would easily keep them ahead of the zeds.
The three of them got back to the wall and scrambled over it. Tom started removing his pack. “Keep it on,” John told him. “We should get this stuff over to the station right away.”
John could see everyone else was already back from their duties from the crowd gathered around the rear of the police station. He did a quick head count, adding in Gray who they’d seen where they’d come over the wall and would stay there until he was relieved, and came up with one extra. Jason must have found a new addition.
Eric walked right into the center of the group and dumped his pack. People began to grab things from it. “Don’t take more than you need,” he cautioned them. “This stuff has to last.”
Jason was already handing out new orders. Most of them had been following him so long that they didn’t question he was in change anymore.
“Everyone, this is Chastity. She’ll be with us from here on out.” There was a mumbling of introductions, some waving and a couple of handshakes. “Bruce, I’d like her to work with you and Johnny Ng. We need to know more about what’s around here, and I’m going to leave it to you to run the scouting team.”
“Aye aye.” Bruce nodded to Johnny and motioned to Chastity and the three of them moved out of the circle and off to the side to discuss amongst themselves.
“Walker,” Jason continued. John snapped to attention. “I know you just got back, but we need you and Tom and Eric to head to the building we found Chastity in. She didn’t have much of her own, but she admitted to hunkering down and now searching the building.”
John nodded. Eric and Tom walked back over to join him.
“I’d also like you to check the church next door to the building. We can see if well from the wall, and it’s empty and safe, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.”
John nodded again.
“Everyone else is on the walls,” Jason finished.Â The group broke up and people began to wander off toward rest and eating. Jason headed straight to John and called out for Mr. Kane to join them.
Kane wasn’t a soldier anymore. He’d been Army once, but retired. Now he wore a cowboy hat and a six-gun on his hip.
“John, how was the situation at the,” Jason seemed lost for a word, and finally stammered out, “farm?”
“It’s clear of food, but it has a zombie problem.”
“That’s what Gray said too. Well, that’s what he signaled to Candy anyway.” He turned to Mr. Kane. “I think if we could secure that, we could use it, but we need to clear it first. You up for a hunt?”
Kane tipped his hat back and spit tobacco out the side of his mouth, really playing up the cowboy. “I reckon I could do that.” He smiled.
“Well, alright,” Jason said. “Thanks, John.” Then he and Kane walked off toward the south end of camp.
Everyone was gone except for John and Tom and Eric. Tom knelt down to the duffel at John’s feet and began going through it. Eric and John headed for a nearby picnic table.
“I guess,” Eric started, “I can take the church. You and Tom can take the apartment building?” John nodded. They sat together silently for a moment, Eric staring at the table while John watched the clouds float by in the air.
Tom joined them and placed a six-pack of beer on the table. “Drink up, gents. Tomorrow we go back outside the wall.”
The three of them cracked open a beer each and shared uneasy smiles.Â “I hope Kane kills all those motherfuckers,” John said between sips. “Motherfuckers killed my dog.”
“Without whom,” Eric added, “those zombies might have gotten us surrounded.”
“To the dog,” Tom toasted. “Whose name we didn’t know, but is in a better place than this.”
The three of them finished the toast. Then they finished the beers.