Friday, September 13, 2013

Les Bund Part One

A lot of zombie stories revolve around a rapid infestation, a collapse of security and then social structure. It makes a good story. I was wondering though, what if people organized and struck back in the early stages? In places like Britain where the civilian population no longer has a tradition of an armed civilian population such an extraordinary circumstance as societal collapse might be possible. What about here, in the United States, though. Most people will wait to see what those of authority might say before becoming involved. Psychological studies have indicated that the larger the group of people in an emergency situation there is less probability someone will step forward. The smaller the group, the more likely someone will step forward to provide guidance. Would the armed members of our society take it upon themselves to take up arms and nip the problem in the bud? I wonder. If they did step forward, would they be able to stop what was happening, or would their actions simply slow the snowball headed for hell?

Unlike the rest of the short stories about the subsidiary characters of Behind a Veil of Darkness, this story of Les Bund is not connected to the general storyline of the BVD Trilogy. In essence, it is a “what if” tale if things had happened differently.

Les Bund Part One

Les Bund was a loner. Not so much by choice, but he just didn’t seem to click too well with others. That wasn’t to say he was unfriendly with his neighbors or disliked by his fellow employees; he generally liked people, but for some reason he never seemed to get close to anyone. Socially inept probably summed it up pretty well. Les was shy and introverted. Women? He had a few girlfriends over the years, but they always seemed to drift away, or told him they didn’t think the relationship was going anywhere. Most of his relationships ended with the woman engraving the word Boring on the relational tombstone.
He lived alone in the home his father and mother had purchased when he was in Middle School and the big old house was his world. He only had one hobby; Les was a prepper. He didn’t do anything overboard, at least not in his mind, but a prepper none-the-less. Most preppers are preparing for something, some sort of cataclysmic event that would turn the world into a cesspool. Some prepared for the imminent eruptions of super volcanoes, some for economic collapse, some for foreign invasion or a domestic coup, some prepared for an asteroid impact. Les didn’t prep for any of those things, or any of the many things people seemed to worry about. He just figured it was a good idea to be prepared in the event “something” went wrong.
In tune with a vaporous concept of “something”, Les had a somewhat eclectic approach to preparedness and after spending twenty years preparing for “something” he had a lot of preps. In the event of a power disruption he had a solar system installed on the roof of his separate three car garage, and not just a small one either. The system consisted of forty-eight, 130 watt photovoltaic panels with forty-eight two volt batteries arranged in two twenty-four battery banks. His house didn’t use anywhere near the power produced by the solar system, so he had it connected to the power grid and as a result had not paid a power use bill in years. In fact, he had a serious amount of credit with the power company. In case of an emergency, he had a back-up generator that could power his most important circuits in his home if needed.
In his basement was a comprehensive food storage area containing a full five years of Long Term Storage Foods for eight people. In addition to that were shelves of dried and vacuum packed vegetables he had grown in his expansive rear yard. On the shelves could be found, cooking oils, dried herbs, spices, and five gallon buckets of salt. His food storage was complete and varied. Along one wall of the basement were five, 200 gallon stainless steel water tanks that were interconnected. The City supply went first to the storage tanks and then to the house to ensure there was always fresh water contained in them. Nearby to the water storage tanks was an air compressor to pressurize the tanks and send the water to the upper floor of the house if needed.
His garage contained a wide assortment of tools and even some construction material for his next home project; he was going to enclose the entire front and rear porches of the house with storm shutters. Though the house used natural gas for cooking and heating in the winter, there were several wood burning stoves placed strategically to heat the structure. On his large back porch was an outdoor cooking area that could use propane, or wood, to cook if necessary. With the old house located in earthquake prone California, he had the house extensively remodeled to strengthen the structure against seismic activity. As a carpenter, he did much of the work himself.
The final preps Les had put away were weapons, ammunition, load bearing gear, and cleaning supplies for the guns he bought. He had purchased five Russian SKS rifles years ago along with five Yugo Model 57 pistols. The rifles were loaded with ten round stripper clips into a ten round integral magazine, so no mags to purchase or lose and the pistols used nine round magazines that were beneath the maximum allowed in California. Both the pistols and rifles used old Soviet ammunition and because of how inexpensive it had been he stacked the ammo deep. He literally had tens of thousands of rounds of 7.62x25 for the pistols and 7.62x39 for the rifles. For each pair of rifle and pistol, Les had purchased a set of old Vietnam era nylon web gear. The web gear, or load bearing equipment, or LBE, consisted of a thick nylon pistol belt, a nylon set of suspenders, four old style M-16 20 round magazine pouches, and two military canteens. In addition to the M-16 pouches were four compass pouches he had added to a series of straps across the chest that held an additional two stripper clips in each pouch. A person with a full load of ammunition could carry 400 rounds of ammunition for the SKS with two spare magazines for the Model 57 pistol.
Some preppers bought expensive guns and ammo to protect their food supplies from neighbors who might be unprepared during a catastrophe, but Les had a different perspective. Instead of planning to protect what was his from his neighbors, he planned to share with them. If he tried to defend what was his, on his own, eventually those who wanted what he had would overrun him with sheer numbers. If he shared his supplies, then his neighbors would have a vested interest in protecting him and his/their supplies from others; thus the extra guns, ammo, and LBE. It seemed to make sense.
When Les was honest with himself he recognized there was a distinct possibility he would never need the vast amount of preps he had stored away, heck, he had already started rotating through his food supplies and donating the older, but still viable food to local charities. It was really nothing more than an expensive hobby, until it wasn’t.

Les Bund looked in the mirror as he vigorously brushed his teeth; wasn’t he supposed to have a dental appointment soon? Better check his calendar. He spit into the sink, sipped some mouth wash and then spit that in as well. “I wonder if Doctor Spelling still has that cute dental assistant.” He thought. Reaching up he ran a finger along the wrinkles at the corners of his eyes and mouth, “Not that she would be interested in me.” Sighing, he turned off the water tap and then listened as he thought he heard…what…was that gunfire?
Walking through his bedroom he stepped out onto the second story balcony of his home and listened. “Yes, that is definitely gunfire,” he said to himself. His house set well back from Euclid Avenue and there was no traffic, which wasn’t that uncommon this time of the morning. The job he was going to today was in San Fernando, almost an hour drive from his home in Upland and he liked to have breakfast at a nearby restaurant before his crew started work at six AM. “Is that smoke I smell?” He asked himself. Then he heard the screams, faint, but distinct screams.
Stepping back inside of his bedroom he picked up his phone and dialed 911.
The phone rang several times before a woman answered, “911, what is the nature of your emergency?”
“Yes, I live in Upland…”
“Sir, are you in mortal danger at this moment?” She sounded abrupt.
“Well, no, but…”
She interrupted him with, “Sir, because of the high volume of emergency calls we are receiving we are dispatching officers only when death or injury are imminent. Please hang up and tune in your local news channel on radio or TV.”
“Well, alright, I guess…”
As he lowered the phone from his ear he heard the 911 operator add, “Sir, go to Fox News, they’re the only news program that seems to be up to date with the riots.” He heard a click and then nothing.
“Riots? What riots?” Turning to the TV at the foot of his bed he switched it on with a remote.
“…That from the San Bernardino County Sherriff’s Office. Now a word from our sponsors and…” The blonde talking head looked to the side for a moment nodded and thanked someone who handed her several sheets of paper she quickly glanced over. “I have just been informed that we will not be taking station breaks for the duration of our current situation. This just in from the Upland Police Department: You are advised to stay indoors with your home secured.” She looked quickly to the side again with a perplexed look on her face and then continued, “You are advised to arm yourself if you can and be prepared to use deadly force to defend yourself.”
Les sat down on the edge of his bed, “What?”
“From the Centers for Disease Control, the riots that have begun to appear across America seem to be the result of a disease that is spread by the exchange of bodily fluids. This exchange takes place when the previously infected bite those who are not. Symptoms after being bitten include: rapid swelling and discoloration about the bite wound followed by extremely high fever and vomiting. The infected then lapses into a coma like state before appearing to die and then awaken and attack anyone close-by who is not infected.” The blonde newscaster frowned and looked away from the camera for a moment and Les thought it looked like she mouthed the word “zombies?” She stood from her chair and walked away from her desk as the screen went to a test pattern.
“No fricking way!” Les said loudly as the test pattern faded and the news program resumed. The blonde talking head wasn’t behind her desk though; a disheveled looking man wearing a suit jacket and no tie began scanning the papers in his hand. He wriggled in is chair, cleared his throat, and looked into the camera, “The victims of the disease sweeping the region are…not…dead.” He emphatically stated. “They appear to die, but actually their brains are still active and their bodily functions resume though at a higher level. After regaining consciousness, however, they become completely violent and attack anyone close to them. The CDC states the infected seem to have extremely elevated rates of adrenaline and as a result they are stronger and faster than normal. Another side-effect of the increased adrenaline levels is their ability to ignore serious wounds. They are incredibly difficult to subdue.” Another sheet of paper was handed to him and again he scanned it before beginning to read aloud. “The Governor of Texas has just made an announcement from Austin. He is advising citizens of Texas to arm themselves with firearms and organize a local posse to hunt down the infected under the leadership of local police and National Guard units; the Texas State Guard has been ordered to mobilize as quickly as possible. The Pentagon has cancelled all leaves of military personnel and they are ordered to report to the nearest U.S. Military unit for service.
This word from the California Governor’s Emergency Command Center and I quote: “Private citizens are warned against joining any vigilante groups. Stay in your homes and allow Law Enforcement to perform their duties without hindrance. The Governor says he will make a decision to deploy the California National Guard, or not, by this evening.” The newscaster looked away from the camera and held up both of his hands in a WTF gesture before turning back and holding his hand to an earphone looped over his ear, “Just a moment…Yes, we have some footage taken moments ago from a news chopper circling a police barricade in San Francisco; we are warned the footage is quite graphic!”
Les watched mesmerized as the camera zoomed in and showed a woman dragged down from behind by a crowd. She was literally torn apart and the infected began to feed off of her remains. “My God,” he muttered. The police opened fire from the barricade into the on-coming crowd and though for a moment it appeared they might hold the crowd at bay, the infected overran the position. Les noted very few of the cops escaped.
He suddenly felt alone, very alone. Striding to his dresser, he picked up his cellphone, scrolled through his contacts list until he found Daniel Sykes’ number and then pressed send. The phone rang many times and then he heard it picked up and fumbled before he heard his lead-off-man’s voice, “Hello?”
“Danny, this is Les, have you seen the news this morning?”
“What? No, geez, Les, you just woke me up.”
“Turn the news on, now! Then call everyone on the crew and tell them not to show up for work until you or I call them, understand?”
“Huh? Geez, Les…”
“Just do it, Dan, do it now! First the news, then call everyone!” Les disconnected the phone and then dialed Gary Hampton, his neighbor.
After only two rings Gary’s wife answered, “Hello?”
“Emily, this is Les next door, is Gary awake?”
“No, he drove in late last night from a sales call in…”
Les cut her off, “Wake him up now, Emily; we need to talk right away!”
“Les, he was really tired…”
“Emily, please put him on the phone and you need to turn the news on right away!”
There was a pause and then Emily said, “Les, you’re scaring me.”
“Emily, I’m sorry, but this is critical to yours and your children’s safety, please put him on!”
As Les waited for Gary he watched as Fox replayed the earlier footage from the chopper. Forcing his eyes from the woman being dismembered, he watched the edges of the crowd until he saw what he thought he had seen from his earlier viewing.
“Hello? Les, hello?” Gary was on the phone.
“Gary! You need to throw some things together for you family and come to my house.”
“What? Why?”
“Has Emily turned on the news yet? Fox seems to be the only news channel covering the riots.”
“Yeah, but…”
The scene was playing again, “Watch the big guy with the red 49ers jersey on the right side of the screen…see him?”
“Oh my God! That poor woman…”
“The jersey guy, Gary! Do you see him?”
“Yeah, I see…” There was an extended pause as Gary watched the big man in the red jersey suddenly turn and smash through a large plate glass window like it wasn’t even there. “Jesus,” he mumbled. “The whole front of my house is large plate glass windows.”
“Get ready, Gary, I’ll be at your front door in ten minutes; be ready to come to my house!”
“Okay!” He said as he hung up.
Les grabbed his keys and ran down the stairs to the basement door. Unlocking the door he hurried down the stairs to his gun locker, quickly unlocked and then opened the door. He grabbed the closest set of LBE and dropped it over his head, strapped the pistol holster off to his leg and then drew the Model 57. Pushing the magazine release he dropped it into his hand and looked at the magazine, loaded. He slapped it back in, pulled the slide back and released it sending a live round into the breach. Putting the safety on he returned it to the holster and snapped the retention strap securing the pistol. Pulling an SKS from the rack of rifles, he pulled the bolt back until it locked in place and then placed a stripper of ammo into the stripper guide of the bolt. Hooking the nose of the top round with the crook of his index finger he used his thumb to push the rounds quickly and smoothly into the SKS’s internal magazine. Pulling back on the bolt, he released it and allowed the bolt to shove a round into the breach of the rifle before flipping the safety to the safe position; he slung the rifle and ran back up the stairs to the front door.
Instead of trying to look out the small window in the front door, he stepped to the large window in the living room, kneeled on the couch and pushed the drape to one side. Looking past the security bars he examined the exterior to the street and after seeing no one he quickly returned to the door and opened it as it squeaked loudly. Damn! He thought, I need to oil that hinge! Stepping out he quickly wished he had spent the extra money to attach a tactical light to the SKS as he swung it off his shoulder. There were street lights, but the tall trees along the front of his and Gary’s yards created extensive areas the overhead lights couldn’t reach. Jogging across his driveway and then stepping over a low wall he approached the Hampton’s front door and after one final glance around him, he knocked lightly.
Within moments he heard the door lock manipulated and finally it swung in exposing not Emily or Gary, but a slim woman he didn’t recognize. Her long straight hair was mussed from sleeping and she was rubbing her eyes as if trying to wake up. “You must be Les?” She asked.
“Yeah, are Gary and Emily ready?”
“Emily is throwing some clothes together for the kids, so it may be a minute before they’re ready.”
Les saw three suitcases sitting by the door, “Are these yours?” He asked.
“Just one; luckily I hadn’t bothered to unpack. Emily and Gary are rushing around and don’t seem to have time to explain what’s going on, can you tell me?”
“There’s some kind of epidemic spreading like wildfire and my house will be more secure than this one.”
Tilting her head to the side she pointed at Les’ rifle, and said with a patronizing tone, “A gun isn’t going to stop germs.”
“No, but it might stop the people spreading the germs.” Les was beginning to dislike the woman.
A thumping noise from the stairs to the second floor drew both of their attention and Les saw a suitcase slide down the steps to the stair’s foyer. At the top of the stairs he saw Gary and Emily coming down with their two children in their arms.
 Turning back to the strange woman, Les asked her, “Can you carry your bag?”
“No,” she answered. “But it has wheels so I can…”
“No, that will be noisy; can you carry it?”
“Try it, now.”
She seemed to withdraw as her jaw clamped tight and then she said, “I don’t think I care much for your abruptness, nor your rudeness.”
Gary and Emily joined them at the door, “Are we ready?” Gary asked.
“Yeah,” Les said. “You two bring the children, and you,” he pointed at the woman. “Bring any one of the bags you can lift and carry.” Les stepped through the doorway and examined the street and yards before saying, “I’ll go first and be security. The rest of you go directly to my house; the front door is unlocked.”
Les trotted to the end of his driveway, but not so far out onto the sidewalk that he might be observed from a distance down Euclid Avenue. Looking back, he saw Gary and Emily pass over his driveway and up to his front porch. The woman was dragging her oversized suitcase over the grass of Gary’s front yard. Damn it! He thought, and then froze as he heard a noise on the opposite side of a hedge that separated his yard from the Carmichael’s house on the other side of his home. He stepped a little farther out and saw a man wearing only the bottoms of pajamas looking back up Euclid. His chest was heaving with his shoulders rising and falling with each breath he took. At that moment, the woman dragged her suitcase up and over the low wall Les had stepped over earlier. When the suitcase cleared the wall it fell and landed on Les’ concrete driveway with a resounding thud.
The half-naked, heavily breathing man spun around and looked directly at Les. “Oh shit!” was all Les could say as the man charged at him from forty feet away. Raising the SKS to his shoulder he tried to align the sights with the running man, but it was too dark! Instead he simply pulled the trigger while pointing the gun…and nothing happened! The safety! He glanced down and pulled the safety lever towards the trigger and when he looked back up; the infected slammed into him and knocked him to his back with the rifle pinned between them. He managed to get the rifle up and pressed against the maniac’s chest and almost pushed him away before the infected grabbed the straps of his LBE suspenders and began to slowly, but steadily draw himself closer to Les’ face. The man was incredibly strong! Les twisted, pushed and twisted again, but the man was now astraddle his hips. Pulling his knees up and bracing his feet, he thrust his hips upwards while pushing with his rifle; the man was thrown almost over Les’ head, but he didn’t relinquish the hold he had on Les’ LBE. Les twisted again and pulled himself far enough away to raise his rifle and slam the butt into the side of the man’s head. The infected slumped to his side as Les pulled the man’s hands from his web gear and stood over him.
“Hey! Hey! Are you alright?” Gary was standing next to him.
Les gasped trying to fill his lungs with air and nodded, “I think so. Did you get your family in the house?”
“Yeah, but we need the other suitcases.” He stared at the unconscious man on the driveway, “Is he dead?”
“I don’t think so, he’s breathing.” He rubbed the back of his head and his hand came away smudged with blood.
“Jesus,” Gary said. “Is that your blood?”
“Let’s get you in the house and get you patched up.”
“No, let’s get the rest of your suitcases first. I’ll cover you while you grab the bags.”
Together they crossed to the door and Les watched the street and the man on the driveway.
Gary picked up the two suitcases and softly closed the door, “I’ll come back for the one at the foot of the stairs,” he said.
“We’ll come back for the third one; wait here while I check if it’s clear.”
Les walked out to his driveway, looked both ways up and down the street and then waved Gary out. When he reached Les’ porch, Les followed him into the house and shut the door.
“Gayle? Check the back of Les’ head,” Gary said.
Emily got to him first and gasped, “Oh my God, Les you’re bleeding down your back!”
“A lot?” He asked.
The other woman, Gayle, took a look. “There’s a gash that will need a couple of stitches, but it’s not that bad; head wounds always bleed a lot. Maybe Gary can take you to the emergency room?”
“No,” Gary said. “The news said everyone should stay safe in their homes until the police get a handle on the riots.” He turned to Gayle, “You’re a nurse, can’t you sew it up?”
“Gary, I don’t have anything.” She said.
Les turned around, “I’ve got a pretty good first aid kit in the basement.” Turning he started to lean his rifle next to the door and then glanced at the two children sleeping on his couch; he slung the rifle over his shoulder instead. “I’ll go get it.”
“No,” Gary said. “You stay here, let Gayle start cleaning that cut and I’ll go get it. Where is it?”
“At the bottom of the stairs turn left; it’s hanging on a couple of hooks in the wall. It’s black with a red cross painted on it.”
Gary left while Emily and Gayle led Les into the kitchen and had him lean over the sink while Gayle began cleaning his scalp, neck, and back with a bottle of germicidal soap setting on the windowsill above the sink.
“So you’re a nurse?” Les asked.
“Some crazy stuff going on this morning.”
“I wouldn’t know,” she answered. “Gary came into the guest bedroom shouting for me to get up, grab my luggage, and wait for you at the front door. I have no idea why.”
“Geez,” he said. “No wonder you were acting suspicious of me.” Les straightened up and turned on a small TV on a near-by counter before tuning in Fox News.  “Pay attention to that while we wait on Gary.”
Les didn’t really want to watch anymore of the news, so he rested his head on his crossed forearms as Gayle, and Emily, watched the reports. Several minutes passed and he began to wonder what was taking Gary so long. His head was beginning to pound and he could feel a new trickle of blood running down from the back of his head, across his cheek and drip to his arm. Gayle gently touched his shoulder and then dabbed at the back of his head before wiping off his cheek and arm.
“I understand your abruptness now,” she said. “That man, the one that attacked you, he came because of the noise I made, didn’t he.” It wasn’t a question, it was statement of fact.
Les nodded.
“I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay, you didn’t know what was going on.”
Gary walked into the kitchen, “Sorry it took so long, but I was looking for some sort of little bag, or box. This thing is huge.” Dropping the backpack onto the breakfast nook table he began to unzip it. Gayle joined him and began to go through the items it contained.
“This isn’t a first aid kit,” Gayle muttered. “It’s a damn trauma kit. Where did you get this?” She asked.
“I ordered it off the inter-net,” Les answered. “It cost over $400 and I always thought I’d get around to taking some first aid classes, but I never did.”
“Well,” Gayle said. “Whoever put this together knew what they were doing. Here we go, suture and needle, now we’re rolling.”
Les felt Gayle touch his shoulder, “Come sit at the table,” she said. “Sometimes when a doctor starts sewing someone up the patient will pass out.”
“I’ve had stitches before and didn’t have any problems.”
“Do it for me, okay? It will make it easier to lean over you and sew you up.” Les allowed her to guide him to the table and he sat down as he heard Gary tell Emily to come with him.
“Okay,” Gayle said. “Here we go. You’re going to feel a slight pinch…”
Les flinched as the needle penetrated his scalp, “Ow, that was not a slight pinch!”
“Oh, come on now; a big tough guy like you…”
Les heard the front door squeak and suddenly sat up straight, “Gary! Where are you going?”
The door squeaked as it was closed, but Les heard Gary say, “To get the last suitcase; it’s the one with the kids’ clothes in it.”
“Not now, let Gayle finish with the stitches and I’ll go with you to watch your back.”
“I sort of took one of your pistols and it will only take a few seconds to run over and grab what we need.”
“Come to the kitchen,” Les said.
Gary and Emily stepped in and Les raised his hand for Gayle to stop, “Have you ever handled one of those pistols?”
“Well, I shot a revolver once,” Gary muttered.
“That’s not a revolver; is the pistol loaded?”
“Wait till Gayle is done and I’ll cover you while you get the last bag.”
“Go ahead, Gayle, and finish up, okay?”
Gayle added two more stitches and then said, “That should do it. Let me cover it with a bandage and you’ll be good to go.” Several minutes later she tapped his shoulder, “Okay, you’re done.”
“Thanks,” Les said and then taking the pistol Gary was holding he gave a brief rundown on the gun’s operation. “Gary, let’s go get your last suitcase. Like before, I’ll cover you while you get it and we’ll come straight back here and lock the place down, Okay? If there needs to be any shooting let me handle it unless there’s more than I can take care of, then you protect yourself with the pistol.”
Walking to the front door, Les told the women to lock the door after he and Gary left, but to stay there so they could open it in a hurry if needed. Stepping through the door with his rifle held ready, he glanced around and then motioned Gary outside. Behind him he heard the door being closed and then locked. He proceeded down the steps to the sidewalk and then to the driveway where he stopped and quickly looked around.
“Les?” Gary said.
“That guy is gone.”
“Yeah.” Les raised his rifle and placed the butt against his shoulder as he swept the two yards with his muzzle. “I guess he left, come on,” he said.
They approached Gary’s open door and Gary suddenly placed his hand on Les’ shoulder again as he said, “I closed the door when we left.”
“I know,” Les whispered. “Maybe we better go back and get the suitcase after the sun comes up?”
“Missy, my daughter, has pretty bad asthma, Les; her inhalers and atomizer are in that suitcase.”
“Shit! Okay, I’m going to step through the door and you turn on the lights behind me.”
Les took two quick steps through the doorway and heard Gary flip the switches behind him, which flooded the living room with bright light. The infected man was about three steps up the stairs when he turned and stared at Les and Gary before leaping the handrail and starting to charge at the two men. Les fired once and saw the impact of the bullet in the man’s chest, but he kept coming. Les fired again, and then again before the man impacted him knocking Les into Gary and together the two men tumbled out the door entangled with the infected crazy. Les lost his grip on the rifle and it slid out and down the steps to the porch. He rolled over on top of the man he was grappling with and held him down, but when he reached for his pistol the man almost escaped his hold. Forgetting about his own pistol he shouted at Gary, “Shoot him! Shoot him now!”
He saw Gary’s hand with the pistol point at the man’s head and the trigger was jerked, but nothing happened,” The safety! Take the safety off!”
“Shit! Shit!” Gary shouted as he fumbled with the pistol.
“Gary! Come on!” Les was beginning to panic as the infected reached up and started clawing at his arms.
BANG! The pistol jumped in Gary’s hand and the infected man slumped as his arms fell away from Les. There was a hole in the right side of his forehead and a sudden blossom of red on the concrete of the walk.
Les shoved himself away from the body and scrambled backwards, “Jesus!”
Gary stared at the blood spattered concrete and the neat hole in the man’s forehead that was starting to seep blood before he twisted away and vomited. Les reached out and picked up the pistol Gary had used and then picked up his SKS before kneeling next to Gary, “Here,” he said. “Take the pistol and get the suitcase.”
Gary gagged and then shook his head, “I don’t think I can do this, Les.”
“You have to; Missy needs her medicine.”
Gary cleared his throat and spit onto the porch, then blew each nostril clear of puke one after the other. “Okay, but…”
“Then let’s get it done and then back to my house. When we get there I have a way for all of us to practice with my guns so we can use them better. Geez, both you and I have tried to fire our weapons with the damn safeties on.”
They returned to Les’ house and the women let them in. Les immediately secured the front door and then made sure the back door was locked also. When he was done he led Gary, Emily, and Gayle to his basement. After closing the door to the basement he walked across and opened what appeared to be a three foot square door in the back wall. As his three guests watched, Les opened the door and exposed a long round tunnel that disappeared into darkness.
“Les, what the hell is that?” Gary asked.
“It’s a tunnel my dad dug out to the garage before he died. At the end is a small basement that is connected to the grease pit he had installed in the first bay of the garage.”
“Why would he want a secret tunnel to his the garage?” He asked.
Les smiled a little sheepishly before he answered, “I used to ask him the same thing. All he ever said was in case he needed to get to the garage secretly.” He shrugged, “I’ve been through it dozens of times and I even have a skate board with ropes tied to each end for when I want to bring things into the house from the garage without everyone wondering what I’m doing.”
Gayle smiled and nodded before saying as she pointed around the heavily loaded shelves of the basement, “Is that how you got all of your prepper supplies down in here with no one knowing?”
Les smiled, “Yeah, actually it is.”
“You must have been doing this a long time,” she added.
“For almost my entire adult life.”
“Well,” Gary said. “It sure worked. I had no idea you had all this stuff down here.”
“I always figured I’d keep it secret until a real emergency came along; looks like this might be it.”
Emily looked puzzled, “Les, how much food do you have down here?”
“Enough for eight people for five years.”
Gayle tilted her head, “Why so much?”
Les shrugged again, but said. “I have neighbors.”
She stood there quietly for a moment and then said, “I totally misjudged you didn’t I?”
Gary chuckled as Les said, “I hope so for your sakes. Anyway, I brought you all down here for a reason. I want you all to learn to shoot the guns I have. Tonight I was almost bitten twice because the first time I forgot to turn off the safety of the SKS I had and the second time because Gary did the same thing with his pistol. I want us all to become familiarized with how to use both guns. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be sharpshooters when we’re done, but at least you’ll have a better chance of stopping one of those people if you need to.”
“Les,” Emily said. “I’m not very comfortable with the idea of guns around the kids.”
Gary stuttered a moment before Gayle interjected, “Gayle, when Dad taught us to shoot you were never interested because you said there was no need to know how to shoot. I always paid attention and to tell the truth I always kind of enjoyed that time with him. In fact, I still get nostalgic when I smell gun powder at the range. The only reason I don’t have my own guns here now is I knew you wouldn’t like it if I brought them with me to visit. Now it seems maybe Dad was right; maybe you did need to know how to properly aim a rifle and pistol.”
“We’ll all be careful, Emily, when we have the guns around the kids, but surely you see that they may come in handy to protect Missy and Eli, right?” Gary asked.
“Once you become a little more knowledgeable about how guns work,” Les added. “I think you may start feeling a little better about having them around.”
Emily stared at the floor and said, “I feel like the three of you are ganging up on me.”
Gayle laughed, “That’s exactly what we’re doing little sister.” Turning to Les she asked, “I hope you have some ear protection for us to use? It’s going to be very loud in here when we fire. I mean, that’s what you’re going to do, right? Have us shoot down the tunnel?
“Yes, I am, and yes, I do. I’ll never forget the first time I fired a round down that tunnel; it freaking hurt.”
“Uh, Les, aren’t you afraid the neighbors or those infected people might hear the shots?” Gary asked.
“I’ve been shooting down here off and on for years and no one has ever complained. In fact, when my dad was alive he had me stand outside and listen for the sound. I never heard a single shot outside the house.”
“Well, let’s get started,” Gayle said.
Les ran them thru the basics of gun safety, and then through the basics of operating both the pistols and the rifles. Afterwards he sent Gary and Emily upstairs to stay with the children while he ran Gayle first through dry firing the rifle and finally he allowed her to fire thirty rounds with the rifle at a target he set up at the end of the seventy-five foot tunnel. She was not only proficient with the rifle, but Les came to realize she was a better shot with the pistol at a more appropriate range than he was.
“You have a lot of experience with firearms,” he said. “What do you own?”
“I’ve got a Bersa .380, and a boyfriend talked me into buying a Mossberg MVP Patrol Rifle. Are you familiar with the Mossberg?”
“No, I’m not.”
“It’s a bolt action rifle with a bull barrel. Mine will shoot ¾ of an inch MOA if I do my part. It’s chambered for 5-5-6 NATO and uses STANAG magazines. You know, the same magazines the AR-15 uses.”
“High capacity mags?” he asked.
“No, but I have four ten rounders I use when I go to the range.” She whispered conspiratorially, “My boyfriend was a cop and got me six thirty rounders, but I’ve never even tried them out; I have no desire to go to jail.”
“Smart, why didn’t your boyfriend come with you?”
“Well, I guess in the spirit of transparency, I should have said ex-boyfriend.”
“How good are you with your rifle and pistol?”
“If the target is within 600 yards and I’m shooting my Patrol Rifle the target is going to get perforated. I can hold my own with the Bersa.”
“I believe you after seeing your capabilities.” He stood there quietly for a moment and then said, “Maybe you should give Gary and Emily the instruction they need?”
“Emily? Yes. Gary? No. Gary is a good guy and treats Emily really great, but he has a bit of a macho streak in him and I think he’ll do better with you than me.”
“You may be right,” Les said. “Why don’t you take one of the rifles, one of the pistols with the web gear, and go back upstairs. You can stay with Emily and the kids while I put Gary through some paces.”
“Okay, I want to go through your trauma kit also so I can become familiarized with everything you have.”
“Good idea,” Les responded as she walked up the stairs and into the first floor of the house.
Les watched her walk away and wondered if she might consider dating him someday. Why even go there he thought.
The sun was beginning to rise by the time Les had Gary practice shooting down the tunnel and then Gayle ran Emily through the same process. While the women were in the basement the two children woke and the men fed them cold cereal for breakfast. On the news there was no longer a live newscaster, instead there was a map of the United States with red dots that indicated where they had received updates of outbreaks. There was a feed of information that scrolled across the bottom of the screen.
Shortly after 9:00 AM they heard a flurry of gunfire up Euclid to the north and then more gunfire that sounded closer. Les, after checking it was clear outside the front door opened it and carried his rifle to the sidewalk next to the street where he looked up Euclid. In the distance, perhaps a hundred yards away, he saw two policemen running in his direction. As he watched, they stopped and fired their carbines at a group of perhaps twenty people that were chasing them before resuming their run towards Les. Les kneeled down, aimed his SKS and began to shoot into the crowd; moments later he was joined by Gary and Gayle who also began to shoot. The two police officers ran past them and then stopped to add their own fire. Moments later Les heard additional gunshots from across the street; when he looked, a man and what appeared to be a teenaged boy were firing at the crowd also.
Only one of the infected crowd got within twenty feet of Les, his friends, and the two policemen. Gayle shot the last one through the head.
Turning to the cops Les asked, “Are you guys okay?”
“Yeah,” one answered. “It’s a good thing you helped out.” The cop looked across the street and waved at the man and boy, “Thanks!” He shouted. The man waved in return and then led the boy back into their home.
“One good thing,” the cop said. “People are starting to ignore the Governor’s announcements and are taking matters into their own hands. I hope they keep it up.”
Gary spoke up, “Is the state government still asking people to stay in their homes and not get involved?”
“They’re not asking, they’re ordering people to stay in their homes.” One of the cops said. “Christ we’re getting overrun out here and they’re still playing their socialist control games!”
Les nodded, “I agree with your sentiment. Are you guys hungry? Maybe some coffee? You look beat.”
“Man,” one of the cops said. “We’ve been on the move since yesterday without a chance to take a break and I’m tired, so yeah, something to eat and a pot of coffee would be outstanding.”
“Come on then, let’s go inside.”

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