Traveling closer to Kayak Point, we see increased signs of unrest. I am not familiar with this area, but it looks like it was sparsely populated before KCAP hit. The road is very hilly, with dips and swells. I laugh as Shack twists his tongue in knots attempting to pronounce some of the names of the roads we pass. I learn later from Brenda that most of the names are taken from the local Native American tribes.
Honey and LM continue to eat as we drive. With the roadway mostly clear, our convoy actually reaches a whopping 40 miles an hour. I gratefully shift into fourth gear, as Honey cracks open another MRE, this one a rare Estonian.
The only reason I know the nondescript white plastic covered box is an Estonian MRE is because someone thoughtfully labeled it in English. Honey continues eating. I cannot read or speak Estonian, and it appears that Honey does not either.
“Christ kid, how much shit you gonna’ eat,” Shack mutters from his side of the cab.
The Estonian MRE Honey is furiously digging into does not seem as sparse as one would expect. She makes a horrid face after tasting something that smells like garlic-infused pâté. LM chortles as Honey shudders making a horrid face after tasting some of the pale gray, lumpy pâté.
Honey flings the opened container of pâté past Shack’s nose, some of the foul-smelling stuff striking him in the face which amuses LM to no end. Listening to LM near tears laughing on the floor brings a smile to my face. The pâté must be fairly horrid as Shack furiously scrubs at his face with his shemagh trying to get the nasty stuff off.
“Shit! Just hand me the nasty crap and I will toss it outa’ the cab. Don’t fucking do that again!”
Shack is visibly angry. His rare display of temper causes LM to bust out laughing again which considering the situation is pretty funny. Even I start giggling, LM’s laughter is infectious. After a moment even Shack cracks a smile, despite the splatter of nasty pâté on his LBV.
“Doc told me that KCAP does something to the adrenal glands. Because LM and I are still growing, our caloric intake need is very high.” Honey mentions this little tidbit while she cracks opens another mystery can of potted meat from the Estonian MRE.
I distinctly smell fish, as Honey shovels little smoked, oil dripping silver fish into her mouth with a white plastic fork. She eats some of the fish and then hands the rest to LM who digs into it with relish.
“LM and I are always hungry. Doc is hungry a lot more too, but not as often as us because we are still growing. We know, that with KCAP, death is followed by transformation. KCAP improves and hardens the host, improving KCAP’s chances of spreading. I am not sure that LM and I want to find out what happens if we starve to death. The hunger pains are horrible. I get the strongest urges to eat anything. If I got hungry enough, I fear I might attack someone.”
At this proclamation, Shack looks at her wide-eyed. I see his right arm moving, I wonder if he is loosening his Serbu in its holster on his right leg.
Honey takes a deep breath after this spat of information. Sipping from her canteen, she rummages around in the Estonian MRE again. As she digs, Honey continues to talk.
“He can’t talk yet, but I get very strong mental images from LM. Doc did a KCAP blood count on us. LM has three times more KCAP viral bodies than I do. But with him, because he inherited KCAP from his father, he is closer to the other infected than I am. LM is going to have to be very careful, because if he gains more KCAP viral bodies, it may kill him or push him into near madness with hunger.”
Honey falls silent for a minute as Shack and I look down at LM sitting on the floor board, eagerly licking the empty can of smoked fish. Honey triumphantly finds a pair of small clear plastic packages of crackers. Handing one of the packages of crackers to LM, she sighs.
“I suppose the crackers were for eating with the fish.” She burps lightly. “Excuse me.”
Honey rummages in her pockets for a minute. Finding some small packets of US Army MRE jelly in brown plastic squeeze tubes, she bites the corner off a brown tube of jelly. She hands the open tube of jelly to LM along with another plastic sleeve of crackers.
Opening her own tube of jelly she squirts jelly on her crackers. I distinctly smell grape jelly, one of my least favorite flavors of jelly.
We ride in silence for a while, listening to Honey and LM munch. I am still full from lunch, but am thankful for the cool can of Budweiser that Shack hands to me. I feel some guilt drinking alcohol while driving, but it is not like I am getting drunk from one beer.
We stop briefly and I see some activity ahead. Shack takes Honey with him and goes to investigate. A few minutes later they return.
“What was that?” I ask as they climb back in the cab. I put the old Dodge back in gear, noting that the engine is running a bit on the warm side. I turn the heater up removing more heat from the engine.
Shack and I roll our windows all the way down to let the excess heat out of the cab which is stuffy enough with four people in it. Shack opens the beer window letting a cool draft blow through the cab.
“Some asshole up ahead was lying in the center of the road. Stupid fucker must have been desperate for a drink because he drank paint thinner. What was left of him was dragging itself across the road; the empty tin can of paint thinner still clutched in his fist. Paint thinner zombie could hear but not see. Was pretty simple to smack ‘em in the back of the head with an e-tool.”
Shack takes a long swig from his canteen.
“Randy and Sutton followed paint thinner zombie’s trail. They came back with several cans of paint thinner and some other flammable liquid shit, such as acetone. Gonna’ pour it in the HEMTT tanker. Thin out that nasty used motor oil shit we’ve been burning.”
Now that the convoy is moving again, the temperature of the old Dodge diesel stops climbing alarmingly towards the red. The engine temperature returns to normal as we drive easing my concerns. I closely watch the engine temperature from now on.
We have been going downhill for a while now, so I hope we are getting close to Kayak Point. We pass a sign, or rather what is left of it, for the Kayak Point golf course. Remembering our last experiences on a golf course I do not wish to explore this one.
Crucified to the sign with jagged pieces of rusty re-bar, the moaning infected person reinforces my wish to avoid the Kayak Point golf course. Pinned on its back, in an awkward position the hapless infected as we pass it attempts to reach towards us, as if begging for mercy.
The naked, emaciated infected corpse is horribly burnt, its sex unidentifiable. Draped over the low, hip-high, fire-scorched concrete sign the burnt infected shakes its head and snaps its teeth at us. The convoy slows as we pass the unfortunate creature.
A muffled shot cracks from the rear of the convoy. The pinned infected’s head snaps back spraying a fountain of gore. I would later learn that it was one of Rain’s Russian husbands that put the unfortunate infected out of its misery with an ancient Mosin Nagant rifle with a large, black Wix oil filter on the muzzle.
I am not sure about Doc, but Honey and LM do not seem all that disturbed by the death of the infected. Honey smears reconstituted peanut butter on MRE crackers. She follows the smear of PB with a healthy squirt of “honey” from a brown plastic MRE squeeze tube.
Honey gives LM, Shack and even I (despite how much I despise reconst peanut butter) a few of the gooey dripping, smeared crackers. All of us munch the awful crackers covered with gritty, oily peanut butter dripping with fake honey silent with our thoughts.
After a full stop at the end of the road, we cross another highway, turning down a steep grade. Passing a white steel pole gate, where the colonels direct construction of pillboxes and gun emplacements we finally enter Kayak Point.
Behind the colonel’s station wagon I see a sign welcoming us to Kayak Point, a Snohomish County park. The colonels direct everyone, with the exception of the construction crew and the first team manning the gate defenses to drive down towards the beach.
It feels good to enter Kayak Point.
Sharks are my first thought until I remember that this is a freshwater lake. The heads of zombies rise from the water. Some of the lads on the beach immediately begin shooting. One of the lads has one of those odd Kel-Tec 9mm carbines that use Glock magazines.
The old, folding Kel-Tec carbine looks odd with a large red Fram oil filter on the muzzle. Shack and I hurriedly dress in record time with the aid of Honey. As we run from the woods, we are joined by Rain and three of her husbands. Running full tilt, Honey easily passes us; her speed and agility is frightening. We pass Rick and the Princess dressing as fast as they can.
Honey literally runs up the side of a large cedar tree, her speed and agility allowing her to run most of the way up into the tree. Honey does a front flip somersault almost from the crown of the cedar tree. With a casual underhand toss, Honey flings all four of her frag grenades into the water among the rising zombies.
While still airborne, before her grenades splash down, she whips her SPAS-12 off of her back. Cranking the shotgun as only someone with her speed and strength can, she quickly unloads the shotgun. Landing lightly in a front somersault, Honey is shoving fresh 12 gauge shells in the SPAS-12 as she rolls with her momentum.
Rolling to her knees, Honey commences unloading the shotgun in to the crowd of zombies. The first zombie rising from the water is a young, white youth dressed as an unarmed security guard in gray slacks and a black long-sleeve shirt. Lake moss hangs from the silver security badge on his chest. His stomach has been ripped open, his guts trailing between his legs.
A blast of #4 buckshot from Honey’s shotgun hits security guard zombie in the chin, exploding his head like a gray and pink puss-filled sack. As security guard zombie’s headless corpse falls, Honey’s grenades detonate obliterating most of the other zombies. Under covering fire from the lads on the beach, our supplies are loaded, and personnel shoved into their respective vehicles.
As Shack and I run for our truck, we see Rick carrying the heavily pregnant Princess to the snow plow. At our truck, I consider grabbing either my B&T TP9 or my AR-15, but decide to use my pistol. I am a much better pistol shot than I am a rifle shot.
One of the lads has an XProducts AR-15 can cannon launching frag grenades into the lake. The kid has to rack the AR-15 action because the blanks used to launch the grenades will not cycle the action. The round US military and Russian frag grenades fit perfectly into the can launcher.
Rain and three of her five husbands make it to their truck. Rain’s other two husbands and her two co-wives are already loading their truck. Despite the unexpected arrival of the zombies, the beach is orderly evacuated in relays. You would think we have had to practice this a few times. I do not bother screwing on my suppressor for my High Power; with the all the grenades and shotguns there is far too much noise to bother.
I carefully aim and shoot, taking head shots when a zombie’s head clears the water enough. I am using the plentiful PMC 115 grain hollow point 9mm ammo. Shack and I cover Honey as she retreats from the beach; she is one of the last off the beach. I hear the radio on her chest crackle with static. Units are checking in ready as all of their people climb in.
I hear the snow plow start with a shaking rattle and cloud of blue-black smoke. As Honey gets close enough for me to hear over the sound of the grenades exploding and the whump of the can launcher, I hear Sam’s order to move out. Inserting a fresh magazine, I toss the depleted pistol magazine on the dash so that I remember to refill it.
Something cold touches my leg and I scream sure it is a zombie. Pointing my pistol at the floor, I am surprised to see LM calmly sitting in his spot munching on another MRE John Wayne bar. He pats my leg as if to assure me that everything is ok. Taking another bite of the chocolate John Wayne bar, he makes a “vroom, vroom” noise at me mimicking me starting the truck. Holstering my pistol, I climb in the Dodge’s cab.
Yeah, right kid, let us get the fuck out of here. I see more zombies staggering out of the water. Now that all of our personnel are accounted for and not in danger, we do not bother shooting any more of the zombies. Honey slides in the cab, she is not even breathing hard. Shack climbs in just as I start the old Dodge.
Honey drops her smoking shotgun down on the floor in front of LM. Thankfully the truck windows are down otherwise the smokey shotgun would fill the cab. Pulling a pair of OD green plastic US Army canteens out Honey guzzles one while handing the other to LM. Whatever bug juice Honey is drinking, it smells like oranges, so I am betting that it is Tang or some generic clone.
LM’s canteen is filled with something red and fruity smelling, leaving a red stain on his lips that looks far too much like blood for my tastes. As I slam the Dodge into second gear, popping the clutch, I watch more zombies shamble out of the water.
Dripping water and lake moss, the zombies are a sorry-looking lot. I never realized how many people wear hoodies in the Pacific Northwest, until I started paying attention to what everyone wears. The hoodie is so universal here, that it blends into the background.
A child zombie wearing a bright, Twinkie yellow hoodie in the shape of a Despicable Me Minion, complete with single goggled eye ball, staggers towards our truck. The child zombie wears a single green flip-flop and torn lime green yoga pants. The zombie child’s left side is soaked in blood, and her jaw hangs at a weird angle.
A single rifle shot rips through the woods. Zombie child’s head whips back as a spray of gore paints the ground behind her. Before her head whipped back out of my sight, I am sure that I saw a perfectly round hole appear just above her mouth. I am also sure that hole is 7.62 calibre. One of our snipers, probably either Randy or Sutton, put the child out of her misery.
As our convoy tears away from Lake Ki the sun breaks through the clouds for a moment, illuminating the carnage on the small rocky beach. We did not get a chance to gather trash or police our area, so we are leaving clear evidence of our presence.
Falling in line with the convoy, Honey hands me a tepid bottle of water from the floor boards of the truck. Until I grasped the water bottle I did not realize how parched I am. Guzzling the liter bottle of water, I try not to swerve too much until Honey holds the wheel for me.
Soon after leaving Lake Ki, we pass a sign for Kayak Point Golf Course. I understand that the golf course is close to the old Kayak Point Park. We should be there in an hour or so at this rate.
While Doc checks the fallen soldier, I take note of the surrounding area. We are on an old overpass close to the former I-5 interstate. From my place, I can see the remains of the highway. Both sides of the old interstate is choked with abandoned cars facing every which way. The median is lousy with cars too, many of them crumpled together in large mass wreckages.
Abandoned luggage and other personal items are strewn about the two side of the highway. Clothes are strewn about as well, as are several corpses in advance stages of decomp. A couple of mangy dogs wander through the abandoned vehicles disturbing a bunch of noisy black birds.
Quite a few zombies wander among the abandoned vehicles. I am sure that the cars are also loaded with trapped zombies unable to free themselves. I wonder if a hot car kills zombies like pets used to die when left in a car too long. I suppose not, as we have had several zombies survive locked in a car for weeks.
Our laager, despite its rough appearance, provides enough defense that an attacker would lose a significant amount of his force. One of the Scouts near me cradles an ancient, desert tan Feather Industries AT9 carbine with an oil filter suppressor. The thick, red Fram oil filter looks incongruous on the muzzle of the desert tan 9mm Parabellum carbine. I note that the Scout wears an old, OD green SMG harness on which rest five Uzi magazines for the AT9.
If I remember correctly, the old Uzi mags needed a slight modification to work in the old AT9. The old AT9 carbine must be an earlier model, as the newer models accepted Glock magazines. Above the SMG harness, clipped to the Scout’s LBV is the usual convoy grenade load-out. Some large bladed knife hangs from the Scout’s belt in a black Kydex sheath. Beside the big fucking knife is a typical M9 Beretta in an OD green nylon flap holster.
I hear a fervent discussion behind me. While I miss most of what Doc says, I do hear him mention that the fallen soldier has benign positional vertigo. He cannot ride on top of the tank anymore. Sam, with his hands on his hips, grunts and directs another soldier to replace the fallen soldier.
Doc says that benign positional vertigo is not terribly common but can be caused by infection, certain medications, and injury to the head. Looking over Doc’s shoulder, I see him contemplating several clear glass vials. I am able to read a few of the vials as Doc rummages in his black leather bag.
I note vials of Lorcet, Xanax, Soma, and Thorazine. Doc chooses the Thorazine, giving the fallen soldier a few CC with a disposable syringe. After the injection, the soldier’s eyes get that spaced, relaxed look. Doc has a couple of the nearby soldiers carry the fallen soldier into the back of one of the troop carriers. Snapping the used syringe with his fingers, Doc tosses the pieces into the bushes beside the road.
Doc will need to check the kid more when we make camp at Kayak Point, but for now we need to get moving. The Scouts report zombies moving towards our laager, attracted by the noise of the idling engines, and the soldiers talking. Sam orders the laager broken, and we are on the road shortly.
Zombies get close enough to the laager that the snow plow pulps several into bloody, chunky mush in the roadway. Leaving the twitching body parts in the roadway for the crows to pick at, we roll by with the briefest of glances. Seeing the carnage, no matter how many times still makes my stomach heave a little.
I get much queasier as Honey tears opens an Italian powdered cappuccino mix and pours it into another OD green canteen. Trading canteens with LM, she hands him the cappuccino while she takes the empty canteen. Turing around in the seat, Honey opens the beer window (as Shack tells me it is called) grabbing a bottle of water from the pile on top of the tool box in the truck bed.
Slapping the beer window closed Honey twists around and opens the one liter water bottle with her teeth. After filling the orange-smelling canteen with water, she dumps another Italian powdered cappuccino into it. After shaking the canteen, she takes a sip grimacing at what I imagine must be an odd taste of orange bug juice and cappuccino.
Honey pulls several plastic packages of Italian biscotti offering some to Shack and I. I accept as it is the first thing I have eaten this morning. We all tear into the biscotti with relish, the nuts and chocolate a welcome change to the bland food of late. Shack refills my travel mug with more herbal tea.
Sipping hot tea, I drive down the roadway after the colonel’s VW station wagon. We finally receive some heat from the old diesel engine. I crank on the heater attempting to warm my feet, glancing at LM when the blast of warm air hits him.
“He doesn’t mind,” Honey answers my unspoken question, causing me to wonder if maybe she is telepathic.
I suddenly see the colonel’s brake lights flare as Sam slams on the brakes. I see their passenger door fly open. Before Sam has a chance to fully stop the car, like a crazed man, Doc leaps out of the vehicle running into the bushes on the right side of the road. Everyone slams on the brakes as Sam unleashes a torrent of profanity over the radio. Now we are fercockt!
The radio becomes clogged with units asking if we are going to laager, and those that saw Doc leap into the bushes like a tall pale, gray gazelle asking what is happening. Two Scouts, led by Longfeather, try to follow Doc on foot, but they quickly lose sight of him. Continuing leaping through the fucking thick blackberry bushes like a pale-gray gazelle, Doc quickly vanishes. Du farkirtst mir di yorn!
Doc is far too fast. He is able to shove through the damn black berry bushes with little care. While the damage to his uniform might be repaired, Doc heals so fast that the punctures and tears from the thorns heal before he takes more than a few steps.
“What the fuck is he doing?” Shack mutters aloud, voicing I am sure, all of our thoughts.
“Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time – it’s enemy action,” Shack mutters quoting Ian Fleming.
Shack has been on a James Bond spree lately, reading all the old Ian Fleming books which the Scouts found somewhere. Before KCAP, I bet Shack had never as much read a book that he was not required to for school.
I note that Shack has his helmet on “John Wayne style.” Shack continues singing horribly off-key. I never liked Country Western music although Amy was quite fond of it. I always found Country music insipid. I prefer jazz.
Someone even found an old k-pot for Honey. Because of her bald pate, Honey usually wears a bandanna tied around her head. I see the ends of a black and red checkered bandanna sticking out from underneath her helmet. Honey is responsible for the radio while we travel.
LM is gnawing on a chocolate, MRE “John Wayne bar.” Honey sitting cross-legged, is shoveling hot, British MRE fruit and nut muesli into her mouth with a brown, US MRE spoon. Honey’s Franchi SPAS-12 with the stock folded flat against the receiver, is lying on the floor in front of LM, muzzle towards Shack’s legs.
Honey is certainly strong enough, and perhaps resilient enough to recover from the kick-like-an-enraged-mule of the tactical shotgun’s recoil. Due to its complicated manual of arms, picky operating mechanism that dislikes mild shells, most militaries and police passed on the SPAS-12.
A commercial failure, the Franchi SPAS-12 was not that popular other than with those that wanted to be “tacti-cool.” It does look cool, and looks tactical but it is really a piece of crap shotgun. Less than 2,000 were imported to the States. I am not sure where Honey got the old shotgun, but due to its ammo pickiness, I would not carry it.
Fed ammo it likes, the SPAS-12 can shoot fast, and with Honey’s strength and speed, she could probably run the shotgun better than anyone else. Despite its racy looks, and Hollywood fame, the Franchi SPAS-12 is an utter piece of shit, with a difficult manual of arms.
Unaware (I hope, as I have not heard that KCAP infection grants telepathy) of my thoughts, Honey is still busily shoveling chunky fruit and nut muesli into her mouth with relish. The muesli emits the distinct odor of powdered milk, which I utterly despise.
I have never cared for the taste of powdered milk or its gagging after taste. Zombie apocalypse or not, I still cannot gag down powdered milk. Lying in Honey’s lap, a spent US MRE food heater pack gently emits steam rising from the jagged, open top. The poor infected, because of their metabolism nearly continuously eat.
The infected cannot get drunk, and they get cold easily because they have almost no fat on their body. LM finishes his John Wayne bar, grunting at Honey, he holds his hands out to her, black nails towards the floor. Reaching into her LBV, Honey hands LM another chocolate John Wayne bar along with some other, brown plastic wrapped MRE snack.
Pulling an OD green plastic canteen from her web belt, Honey places it between her legs and opens the lid. Using her shiny black teeth, Honey tears open a small, brown plastic baggie; I distinctly smell oranges. Pouring the orange powder into the canteen, Honey screws the lid on tight. After shaking the canteen a few times, Honey hands the canteen to LM sitting on the floor.
Honey, in the two months or so she has been with the convoy, has grown nearly four inches or so. She almost looks me in the eyes now; at the rate she is growing, Honey could easily stand over six feet tall.
There is no heat from the old Dodge diesel engine yet. My feet are freezing; I hope the engine warms up quickly. I wonder how LM will like the heater blowing on him under the dash. I hope that the blankets and towels LM is lying on will be padding enough protecting him from the worst of the road.
Bouncing down the road, Honey finishes her muesli stuffing the empty white plastic package into her field jacket pocket. Honey starts eating a British MRE date and banana fruit bar. Shack opens our old faithful plaid Thermos, and I smell hot tea. From the smell, it must be one of Brenda’s herbal mixtures. At least it is hot, and will help warm my cold body.
Filling one of our odd insulated plastic travel mugs, Shack passes the disreputable-looking cup to Honey who passes it to me. Even snuggled against Honey, I am still cold this early in the morning. The damned sun is not even up yet. Sipping the hot tea, I wish for honey or sugar to sweeten the slightly bitter tea.
Suddenly the convoy behind us slams on the brakes. “Ruth we need to stop,” Honey places her hand on my arm resting on the gear shift. LM looks up from the floor at me as I downshift tapping the brakes. “Wonder what’s going on,” Shack mutters.
I crank the big old truck in a modified three-point turn. Heading back towards the stopped tanker, from Honey’s ear piece I hear the Scouts called in as perimeter guards. We are in a lightly populated suburb of a town called Marysville, but you never know how many survivors, cannibals, or zombies are lurking in the abandoned buildings.
Again from Honey’s ear piece, I hear the reason why we stopped. Goddamn kid manning the machine gun on the tanker fell off the fucking truck. Kid is lucky that the deuce and half behind him was able to swerve and brake without running him over. The rest of the convoy halts.
The convoy forms a somewhat ragged looking laager formation. I hear the colonels screaming that we need to form up quicker if this is an attack.
One of the combat medics from the rear vehicles is with the kid who is lying upon his back in the middle of the roadway. Doc sprints to rear of the VW station wagon. Grabbing his kit Doc looks over the car at the soldier lying in the road. Shack, Honey and I watch opened mouth in shock as Doc flat-footed leaps the length of the VW station wagon. Doc, like a pale-gray preternatural predator with a graceful Rudi jump, leaps over our Dodge truck.
Landing lightly on his feet, Doc does not waste any time, running to the kid with his medic bag.
As per our usual SOP, the convoy is flanked by the Scouts riding various motorcycles, ATVs and UTVs. Some of the Scout’s motorcycles adapted to the lesser-quality fuel than did others. The Scouts riding singularly on the motorcycles usually zip ahead ensuring the route is clear.
The older children assigned to the Scouts riding in the armed and lightly armored ATVs and UTVs all have frequency agile field radios. While the motorcycle Scouts zip to and fro, the ATVs and UTVs stay on our flanks providing additional armed security.
Bill, driving the largest fuel tanker, is in the center of the convoy. Pulled from a wrecked deuce and half, the pintle mounted Ma Deuce ring turret mounted in the roof of the semi looks awkward but functions. Bill’s trailer is protected by a tripod-mounted M60E centered on the fuel tank’s roof with a 360 degree firing ability.
I just hope the kids on the fuel tank’s roof are smart enough not to shoot the back of Bill’s cab. Bill’s single, ginormous tanker truck is protected by his wives in a pair of armed and armored Polaris RZR UTVs, and his older children on various ATVs.
The family’s young children are in the back of the snow plow along with the rest of the convoy’s younger children. The kids will serve as grunt labor on this trip. Removing them from the village also prevents the children from being used as hostages.
Our Scouts report that the route to Kayak Point is mostly clear of dead vehicles, but the snow plow is the vanguard of the convoy so she goes with us. From the way that Sam and Doc are coordinating several return runs to the village I suspect there is some worry of a coup while we are gone.
I realize that we are leaving enough personnel behind with enough weaponry that they should be able to fend off any coup attempt. I also realize that Sam and Doc are realistic enough to pull almost everything out, just in case. So it was no surprise when we loaded all of the critical radio equipment, leaving behind just a few old field radios.
Nguen, Carol and Nikola are in a deuce and half with all the radio gear. Nguen mans the M2 .50 in the roof ring mount turret. On the ass, Junior and the Princess’s daughter man a Mk 19 40mm grenade launcher in the bed, along with a few other assorted weapons.
I also realized that all the personnel coming with us are the majority of who will continue travelling north (at least at this moment – fuck!). We are taking most of the vehicles with us leaving only those that are unable to travel now, such as the mortar Stryker due to mechanical problems.
The smoke belching M35A1 deuce and halfs loaded with coal, food, fresh water, repair parts and weapons are coming along. The ancient fuel flexible deuce and halfs are the real work horse of the convoy. Belching black smoke, their turbos whistling, thank God the deuces are behind Shack and I.
Able to run on the noxious blend of transmission fluid, used motor oil, used cooking oil, and just about any other flammable liquid, the deuces if the break down are going to be impossible to replace. Nothing else is as flexible fuel wise as the old trucks, many of which date to the mid-1950s. Even Sam and Doc’s overloaded dilapidated VW station wagon is coming along. As Shack refers to it, the colonel’s station wagon has also been redneck up-armored just like our old truck.
Some of the lads wanted to go all Mad Max when they were attaching the armor to the civilian vehicles, but the colonels would not have it. The vehicles are heavy enough and look stupid enough without putting spikes, blades, and other stupid shit on them.
Officially, the colonels are calling the Kayak Point movement a test of the vehicles running the witch’s brew of biodiesel, used motor oil, transmission fluid and ethanol plus whatever other flammable liquid that will burn in the old multifuel turbocharged engines. In reality, I believe both groups are growing apart and could use a break from each other.
I was not at all surprised to see Honey sitting on the bench seat between Shack and I. On the transmission hump, LM sits on the floor at her feet. As long as the kid does not bump the stick shift, or get in the way, I do not care.
Honey stuffed some blankets and toys down there for LM to play with while we travel. Thankfully, LM is already potty trained so we are not going to have to worry about diaper changes.
Firing up the old diesel, I jump into the cab of the truck, now more cramped with four people and all of our weapons in it. Shack and some of the mechanical lads rigged an internal roof rack for our long guns. We still carry our pistols, grenades, and machine pistols.
Shack now has an ancient FDE, formerly USMC M32A1 40mm grenade launcher with four speed loaders. In the OD canvas bag at his feet are low and medium velocity rounds. The old US Army HE 40mm grenades have a five yard kill radius.
Lying on the dash against the window between us is an ancient Mossberg 590A with a speed feed stock. The Mossy (as Shack calls it) used to be black, but now is more bare metal and rust. The old shotgun’s barrel has been chopped flush with the trunnion for the magazine tube.
An extended magazine tube sticking out past the end of the barrel allows two more 12 gauge rounds to be loaded in the gun. The magazine tube sticking out past the muzzle does not affect the shot from the old gun. A super full, ported turkey choke sticks out of the muzzle. I notice a bunch of 12 gauge shotgun shells in the cab, jammed in every nook and cranny.
Someone chopped the old Mossberg shotty (another Shack term) correctly and not hacking it off with a saw. Someone took the time to have the shotgun barrel chopped and then threaded to accept standard Mossberg 12 gauge chokes. The extended magazine tube is scorched where the flame from the choke porting has burnt the finish.
Jamming my old Kevlar helmet on my head and buckling the chin strap I grimace at the weight of the old helmet. Grabbing my pony tail, I look at the split ends and sigh. I tuck my pony tail under my field jacket and zip it up to my neck.
“Ruth I will help you wash and braid your hair when we get to Kayak Point tonight,” Honey says. Nodding at Honey, I climb into the idling old Dodge.
Slamming the door shut, we fall in line in the convoy. We are the third vehicle behind the colonel’s VW and the leading snow plow. Carol and Nikola with the radio gear are behind us. The moveable feast is on the road again. I guess there is an old Country and Western song with the words “on the road again” that Shack is trying to sing. God his singing is horrible!
Warming up my old Dodge truck, Shack and I give our vehicle a quick touch up. Tires needed some air, and we had to reinstall the batteries, removed for charging. Damn diesels take two batteries.
Our truck has gained some weight. The lads added metal side skirts protecting the tires. Inside the doors, we stuffed old soft ballistic vests, and welded an ugly as all hell grate and chain protection over the windows.
I am surprised at the amount of weapons, vehicles and personnel we are taking to Kayak Point. I wonder if Sam, Doc and Pastor know something that they have not shared with me. This feeling is not good, as I feel left out of the loop.
Expressing my concern to Sam, he explains that we will be meeting survivors from nearby Whidbey Island at Kayak Point. These survivors live in an old coastal gun installation on the island. They want to trade, as well as gather salt with us.
I am ok with meeting other survivors; I just wished they had told me about it. I also learned that Sam and Doc are as concerned with Pastor’s behavior as I am. There is some discussion about moving up our departure which I am all in agreement with.
Pastor and his lackeys, including Carmine, are ensconced in the main building which depending on who you ask is either the palace or the governor’s bunker. The Adventists, if we can even call them that have started pulling away from the convoy. We are starting to see more divisions between the two groups.
There has been some grumbling about the convoy leaving taking most of the ethanol and weapons, but so far nothing serious or Pastor has kept a lid on the discontent. The change in Pastor, and the general vibe (as Shack calls it) in the village has caused some of the former Adventists to decide to travel north with the convoy rather than stay.
So our two merry groups are in a constant state of flux. I have no idea of who is staying and who is going. Oy, vey ist mir! Just as I think I have a grasp of who is coming or staying, some asshole changes his or her mind.
I avoid the palace as much as possible as I come out of there feeling as if I need a change of clothes and a shower each time. The last time I was there I was positive there was going to be a fight between the few convoy personnel and the former Adventists, whom we have taken to calling villagers as it is more fitting now.
Because of the death of electronics and other powered forms of entertainment, card games and board games have risen again as major forms of entertainment. There is almost always a game of cards taking place in the palace at even given time. As people are want to do, there is some betting going on, most of it good natured.
Currency used for betting is usually cigarettes, ammo, guns and even sexual favors. I was tempted to get into some of the games for the chance to win cigarettes until I realized women in the games were encouraged to bet with their body as collateral. No fucking way, am I that desperate for a cigarette, that I will use my body to purchase them.
What nearly caused the fight in the palace was not the women using their body as currency, that has been going on as long as our species has been around, it was the comments Pastor made about the deck of cards. I admit that despite living here almost 20 years, sometimes American idioms escape me.
I had to ask a few of the older guys what Pastor meant when he said they were playing with a “Rodney King deck of cards.” It was at this point that I realized that other than the few tribal members, the villagers are all white. It was Longfeather who explained the Rodney King reference to me.
Even Iain, many years later had not heard the reference before, but he says there was not a large black populating in the Pacific Northwest even before KCAP wiped out about 95% of the population.
I learned from Longfeather that a Rodney King playing deck is 52 clubs and one spade. I know spade is a derogatory term for a black person. I was surprised to hear Pastor, a former man of the cloth, use such a nasty pejorative. I realize that Pastor said it because of the presence of Doc. The two men have never gotten along, but it seems worse now that Doc is infected.
Since I was not even born yet when the unfortunate Mr. King was beaten, it is not surprising I was not familiar with the term. As Doc is one of only a handful of blacks (although, being of Moroccan Berber decent he tells me that he is not technically black, despite his skin color) among the people within the village.
I know that survival does not favor the PC crowd, and it appears that mostly crude, brutal, bigoted assholes have survived. You would think a damned zombie apocalypse would finally wipe bigotry off the map. Apparently even fucking bigotry is immune even to a zombie apocalypse. Just what we need in camp, a bunch of fucking khnyoks.
Since then, Doc and I have avoided entering the palace. Sam only goes in there when absolutely necessary, preferring to talk to Pastor through courier or radio. Junior will not go into the palace anymore, either. I wonder what happened to put Junior off going into the palace as he is Sam’s primary courier.
Bigotry aside, preparations for the Kayak Point trip continue. The lads from the convoy artillery detachment made a week-long trip to the old naval station in Everett. They did not come back with much, but they did recover an old Mk 38 naval variant of the M242 25mm Bushmaster cannon.
Mounted on a 5-ton flatbed truck with a pair of Honda gas-powered generators, the old manual 25mm cannon will be a formidable addition to our armaments. I am not sure what ammo the lads recovered from the squids, but I hope they got some good stuff other than practice rounds. Even the blue, 25mm practice rounds are a formidable projectile, able to penetrate nearly anything we are likely to encounter.
The MGS Stryker is coming along to Kayak Point while the mortar Stryker will stay in the village due to problems with its transmission. Along with the snow plow, two of the flat-bed HEMTTs come along for hauling salt and coal.
Next week: part 2 of the Kayak Point preps
The last few days have passed in relative peace. What started out as a blended compound has quickly turned into a village. The Fourth of July passed without much fanfare as there is not really a United States to celebrate independence anymore.
Only fools will ignite a bunch of explosives guaranteed to attract too much unwanted attention. Our village, is quickly developing streets and sections. The animal section is on the fringes, where the high fenced and well patrolled fields are kept. Animals are rotated so they do not overgraze, and so their manure spreads without attracting too many bugs.
A small group of Amish and Mennonites joined the village the last of the new permanent residents. Thankfully, with the new arrivals came a decent farrier and blacksmith. The new arrivals also are quite adept at handling horse-drawn plows and in no time had this year’s fields plowed and sowed.
With several horse-drawn wooden wagons now in the village, our much delayed Kayak Point trip is on the books again. While we will be using the trucks for the Kayak Point trip, the wagons are necessary for the village to operate while we are gone for a few days.
Some of the lads found a nearly mile long train not too far from our village. The whole train is filled with nothing but good grade coal. Several burlap sacks of coal are filled and stacked on the trucks to take with us to Kayak Point.
Along with the coal, we are also taking several large cast iron pots for boiling seawater. Once we have evaporated all the water, the salt will be packaged in various containers. We are not sure how many days it will take, but our goal is around 200 pounds of salt. I hope we bring enough coal.
The addition of a large continuous supply of coal has really picked up the methanol production. Several wagons a day bring coal into the village. I worry that the smoke from all of the coal-burning might attract unwanted attention.
While my concerns were noted, the village feels that with the fortified barricade, the strength of arms, and the general lack of people around the area, the risk is worth taking. Still, I watch the great plumes of smoke rise from our village and I worry about the consequences.
Speaking of smoke, the proliferation of black powder weapons continues. One of the lads has a rifle that I was not familiar with. He told me that it is a Chiappa reproduction Spencer rifle. There are very few surviving original Spencer rifles, most converted by the old Sharps Company after the Civil War (thanks Iain for anther unwanted history lesson).
The reproduction Spencer is a center fire rifle, rather than rim fire and chambered in .56-50. The lad tells me that .50 caliber black powder bullets are much easier to source rather than the odd, original .56 caliber.
Odd weapons aside, Doc has done an autopsy on some dead cannibals our Scouts located recently. I will detail some of his findings so that his work is not lost. Doc noted all of the cannibals suffer from osteosclerosis, literally ‘bone hardening,’ which means an elevation in bone density (compactness, hardness, and solidity) through hyper-mineralization.
Doc says that in medicine, osteosclerosis is normally detected with X-rays showing as an area of increased whiteness representing the increased calcium in the bones. The cannibals as we have noted have black bones, finger nails and teeth, representing the high level of iron absorbed into the bones.
The infected’s bones are much thicker and harder than normal, with thick layers of compact, dense, iron rich bone. Doc says the infected also suffer medullary stenosis, which literally means ‘marrow narrowing.’ This means the infected have narrow medullary cavities, especially of the ribs and long limb bones, culminating in bones completely lacking medullas and consisting exclusively of compact bone.
Work within the village is never ending. They had to butcher several pigs recently. So there is a sudden need for a large amount of salt for preserving meat. Pigs were infected with erysipelas and there is not enough penicillin to treat both pigs and people.
Some of the pigs also had diamond skin (rhomboid urticaria) lesions and it was just easier to butcher the pigs, rather than waste what little antibiotics we have. Food is plentiful, but there are plenty of whiners and tattle tales if someone feels you are not pulling your weight.
If you do not work you do not eat. If you control the food you control the people.
I am beginning to like this village less and less. Pastor fancies himself more the mayor rather than a shepherd tending his flock. Pastor has taken to carrying an old Armalite AR-180 and wearing aviator-style sunglasses all the time.
I am getting the feeling that there may be some unrest among the ranks, so the Kayak Point trip will be good to get some people outside of the village and blow off some steam. Honey, LM and Nguen are staying in the village while Shack and I are going on the Kayak Point trip tomorrow.
Our Scouts have determined that contrary to local rumor there is not a lot of drift wood at the old park. Other survivors long ago scrounged all the drift wood. So we had to delay until we gathered enough coal to take with us to use as fuel evaporating the water.
I just wonder if that much smoke on the beach is going to attract unwanted attention. I understand the old park is rather isolated and there are only a few ways off of the park grounds. Doc and I both expressed our concerns to Sam who feels the risk is worth the salt.
Just in case though, we are taking lots of firepower. I will be in command of the Kayak Point trip and I do not want any surprises.
Along with several hand-picked Adventists, our Scouts have scrounged every solar panel they could locate pulling them from on top of houses, off train cars, and even the ones installed by the department of transportation on their signs and billboards. Between the solar panels and several bicycles repurposed with treadmill motors, most of the batteries are kept fully charged enough to run lights and some power tools.
Along with the survivor traffic, we also get sporadic news, some of it of dubious worth. Talking to survivors coming to the Adventist’s compound seeking medical attention, we have learned that the cities are wastelands full of the dead, and the quickly dying.
Huge hordes of infected infest all of the major cities. All city services have broken down. Vermin has broken out in large waves, with rats overrunning the sewers and streets. One piece of good news is that the freezing weather and loss of artificial heat has caused the death of billions of cockroaches that froze to death.
Most of the food in the cities is exhausted, and those survivors that have not already turned cannibal, are either going cannibal or are fleeing the cities. Moving within the city is extremely dangerous. Moving, especially during the day, is only undertaken in the direst of situations.
Many survivors are taking advantage of what is going to be a short summer, traveling north away from the major cities. The convoy is waiting for winter, when most of the rivers and lakes will be frozen, hopefully making travel easier. I am not sure I am going to have the nerve to drive a vehicle weighing nearly three tons on ice.
Despite living in the states for more than 20 years, I have never really gotten used to the damned cold winters. I am a child of the desert, and never did like travelling in snowy weather. Amy, a native of northern Maine and an avid snow bunny, always drove during the winter.
My Lotus was not a practical winter car, and I used to commute by light rail to work anyway. Amy’s old British, gray market imported, left-hand drive, classic Range Rover was much more practical in winter weather. Amy loved that puke green, old boxy British tank. She spent considerable time and money keeping the huge beast maintained.
Leaving the hospital and Doc playing with ants worried about the sugar levels in his urine, I head for the new bunk house. I pause to watch some men unloading what appear to be civil war cannons from a pair of horse-drawn wagons.
While the cussing men unload the unwieldy cannons, some men with some of the older children unharness the pair of four-horse teams. Leading the eight horses away, the grooms take them to be brushed, and then turned loose in the guarded fields.
We still have to have guards watch over all of the livestock, unless some starving soul decides to eat them. We have not had to shoot anyone attempting to kill any of our livestock in a few days. A wet meaty splat followed by copious cussing, draws my attention back to the wagons full of iron cannons.
“Be careful you fucking klutz, these things shatter ya’ know,” someone shouts. Wiping some of the mud off of the fallen cannon barrel, I try to read the letters stamped on the barrel.
I note the presence of cement filling this and several of the other cannon barrels. I wonder just how the men intend to get all the damn cement out of the canon barrels. Curious, I kneel beside one of the larger cannons lying on the muddy ground stacked in a neat pile.
“It’s a Army four-inch, or thirty-pounder Parrott gun, miss,” one of the men standing in the wagon says to me. My blank look must have given him the idea that I wanted to know more, for he continues.
“Parrotts were used in the Civil War by both sides, despite their deserved poor reputation for safety. Although Parrotts were shunned by many artillerists. Good thing for us, is that there are many surviving Parrott gun tubes lying in parks all over the country. Somehow they survived not getting melted down during the scrap drives of the wars. It takes a thirty pound shell or shot charge propelled by about four pounds of black powder.”
I have no idea what a fucking Parrott gun is (thanks to Iain for the proper spelling, and another fucking unwanted history lesson), but I understand that a zombie apocalypse is no time to be weapon picky. I know the lads have been making their own black powder, with various degrees of success.
I am glad that I have an important enough job that I do not tasked to mine latrines, bat caves and other nasty places for nitrates. I do not know where the Adventists acquired the eighteen inch deep and nearly six-foot wide, iron kettle to boil away the water leaving the raw saltpeter. The fuel demand making black powder is huge. I know that they sent some lads north looking for coal.
At least we have a use for all of the damn wood ashes, and charcoal. I bet we have at least a hundred folks dedicated to the production of black powder. I just wonder if the Adventists produce enough black powder to fill all of these cannons.
Leaving the men wrestling the unwieldy cement-filled iron cannons, I resume my trek to the new bunk house. Despite not feeling tired, I decide to crash for the day. Shack, Honey and LM are already snoring by the time I get to bed. Naked, I slide into the bedroll warmed by Shack.
Curling up against Shack’s back, I press my cold tits against him trying to warm myself.
“Jesus! Your nipples feel like a pair of cold erasers shoved into my back,” Shack whispers. His large warm hand slides down my side, and cups my hip. I wonder if Shack wants to christen our new bunk house.
This large cinder block bunk house, one of several built on the property, is similar to other large open, one room dormitories I have been in over the years. The building has one large central room in which all of our cots and bedrolls are laid out. Trying vainly to warm it, a wood burning stove sits at either end of the large room.
Someone has thoughtfully strung old blankets between the bunks offering visual privacy but not audible privacy. I note that several of the other bunks are occupied with Adventists, this bunk house being designated for couples without children.
During the day when we sleep, we will pretty much have the place to ourselves, as we are the only crew that works at night. My thoughts are interrupted by Shack, whom as I had guessed, wanted to make love in the new place.