The Twelve

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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Yeti
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Re: The Twelve

Post by Yeti » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:40 am

Samurai Penguin wrote:
Ponyboy314 wrote: A semi was left abandoned on their side of the road, the first time they had seen anything on their side since leaving Sedona.

Kris then performed the unpleasant task of sucking through the garden hose he had taken from the Krieger house and began to fill the can. The tank was full before Kris realized that he was now covering the outside of the can with gasoline and stopped.

NITPICKER ALERT:
No semi in America runs on gas--they run on diesel, which is definitely not compatible. :evil:

Otherwise, I'm hanging on the edge of my seat here. 8)
Perhaps the RV is a Diesel pusher :D Remember they grabbed the largest one they could.
Yeti

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:45 pm

Over the next handful of days, they began to settle in to their accommodations, but Mack was still fairly confident that it wouldn’t be hard to leave when the time came. This was no place to try to build a life, at least not these days. Lorelai pretty much felt that this RV park had played itself out with her, and she often said so, but Mack was adamant that she rest that arm and not worry about much else.

The unwritten rule was that they all still ate together and met in the morning over coffee. Sometimes they ate at one of the picnic areas, other times in one or the other cabin, enjoying the air conditioning. Their collection of DVDs grew upon seeing the small collection that Jesse’s parents had had beforehand, but it wasn’t much. For the most part, their days were whiled away, doing little but looking forward to the day that they could find a place that they might never have to leave.

That’s not to say that they got no enjoyment out of the place. Late July was now in full swing, and that meant even worse heat in that part of the state. When all were having lunch in the shade one day, Mack had an idea, or at least had it again. He had been wanting to do something for a while and never had the chance because of one thing or another.

“Hey guys, come on, we need to do something, and we need your help.” Mack said right out of the blue, referencing Hannah along with himself.

“What’s that?” Kris asked.

“You’ll find out in a minute. Now come one. We need Jesse’s cabin for this.” Mack led the others into Jesse’s cabin and promptly told them, “Okay, Hannah and I are using the pool, and if I see anyone come out of here until I come get you…let’s just say that you might want to play along.”

The others acted more confused than anything else as Mack grabbed Hannah and led her through the door and slammed it, as Mack heard a large quantity of “what the fucks” behind the door as he held her wrist and took her to the opposite end of the park.

“Michael, what are we doing?”

“You’ll find out.”

They reached the pool, Hannah suddenly realizing what he had in mind.

“Nice, anyway, let me go change.”

“Sorry cutie, no time left for that.” Mack grabbed Hannah and picked her up in his arms, turned around, and tell backwards over the top of the pool, fully clothed. After that, Hannah laughed herself silly as Mack flashed a smile of the type that he had not flashed in a while.

They did not remain fully clothed for long, but what they did in the pool is another story.

Nearly an hour and a half later, Lorelai, Kris, and Gwen had not come out of the cabin, allowing Mack and Hannah all the time they needed to do what they wanted to do. After she went back inside their own cabin to put on dry clothes, Mack just walked over to the other cabin, not caring or even really noticing that he was burning the soles of his feet as he did so. He knocked on their door, which was answered by Lorelai, who yelped and jumped about nine feet in the air.

“Thank you, Lorelai. Where are Kris and Gwen?”

“They’re…napping…Mack. Oh Jesus, Mack you’re…”

“Yes I am. Please tell them thank you for me, would you?”

Mack, still buck-ass naked, walked over to his cabin and got dressed. He had finally gotten what he had hoped for since arriving.

But such were rare distractions in a day-to-day routine that didn’t usually include anything of real interest.

It was increasingly difficult to find enough with which to fill a whole day, let alone a number of them. How many times could they watch the same DVDs, or play with the same basketball, splash around in the same pool? How many times could they do anything that didn’t come with a hearty dose of guilt because Lorelai was unable to do much of it with them?

As the days continued to pass, they just became more boring. Everyone’s thoughts turned to getting out there again, on the hunt for a real place to call their own. Mack hoped that somewhere out there was a home, a real home that could comfortable suit them all, with physical protection, proximity to supplies, power, water, and of course, land suitable to keep them fed after the supplies dried up. This place was not it.

Mack wanted to go home, but it was to a home he could not yet find.

By the first of August, as Lorelai’s arm was more or less healed but now going through the painful process of physical therapy (or at least Hannah and Gwen’s version of it), she was slowly getting the use of it back. But Mack and Kris were beginning to busy themselves with trying to calculate how much longer they could rely on what Jesse’s food stash could provide. By the middle of August, Kris had crunched some numbers (numbers that were more complicated than they needed to be) and calculated that they had eight days before they would have to leave. Mack had been hoping for a definite day, as he was slowly starting to get cabin fever, literally. He had a chat with Lorelai, and her arm was not a hundred percent, and wouldn’t be for a while, but he was fairly certain that it would take longer than eight days.

Over dinner, which they had at sunset at the picnic table by their RV, Mack silenced everyone and made the announcement.

“Listen girls, Kris took a look and we have eight days in this place before we can leave with a fully-loaded RV. Lorelai, I was hoping your arm would be good as new by then, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. We’ve already loaded up what the RV can take, and I think it gives us maybe three weeks, maybe a month on the road. That is, if we can’t find anything to keep us going out there.”

Everyone was silent for a few seconds. They knew this day was coming and all had anticipated it, since it possibly brought them closer to a real home, but of course, memories of life on the road in this shattered world were all too clear to them. Everyone was looking forward to their destination, whatever that might be, but no one was looking forward to the trip there.

Hannah asked, “Michael, where are you thinking about? Which way are we heading this time?”

“I figured we’d continue north. Once we get onto I-15, we can take that all the way to Salt Lake City. The road atlas shows a lot of smaller towns surrounding the place, which might be good for us. The city itself though…no way. We’re not going into the city proper.”

“Why keep going north, Mack? What do you think is up there?” Gwen inquired.

“Who knows? I can’t tell from this place, but there’s a road and an RV to use it on. We go north until we have a reason to go somewhere else, which we’ll have before too much longer.”

Gwen asked, “What’s that?”

“Winter, little sister. I know it’s four months away, but the farther we go north, the worse it’s going to be in a few months. The roads…we could get snowed in for a while, and how long will the food in the RV last? Once it gets around to October, we’ll try to kick south somewhere, maybe try to head down to New Mexico or west Texas. Anything further east puts us way too close to the big rivers in the Midwest, and we’re not going anywhere near those places. Everything from there to the Atlantic is thick with those fuckers.”

“Goddamn,” Hannah said, to no one in particular. “This is really going to happen, isn’t it? We’re going to spend a whole lot of time on the road. If we can’t find anyplace good, where are we going to go after that?”

“I figure that if push comes to shove, we keep heading south I guess. Maybe into northern Mexico. I can’t imagine anyone’s there now. But we go where we can go and pray that we find someplace we can call home. We won’t go too far south. We don’t want to go anywhere near Mexico City, since I’m sure we all remember that it was…what did they call it? The most heavily infested city in the Americas? But I hope before it comes to that, we can find a home.”

Kris looked afraid, and made no attempt to hide it. “Home? Mack, is that what we’re really going to try to do? You really think there’s a new home out there somewhere for us?”

“Probably. Just remember that we need to look out for each other. We have to do that, if we ever plan on really going home.”

They all knew what they really wanted deep down inside, and Mack more or less spelled it out for them. They wanted to go home.

Wherever that might be.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:11 pm

It was sundown on the seventh day, and the next day, they would be on the road, back out in that world that had taken so much from them all. They had their fears, obviously, but no one wanted to stay in this place any longer, not for a pool or air conditioning. Still, the mood that evening was hard to describe, as everyone wrestled with their own misgivings about their chances on the road and whether or not it would lead them to their idea of the promised land.

The gang packed, saying little, but they didn’t need to, as their faces laid bare their feelings as the fact that they would be out there again was weighing on them considerably. At least in the RV park, they had been safe, insofar as the dead couldn’t even seem to find them, let alone attack them, but a crazed Jesus freak had shown that it was just as dangerous locking oneself in with the living as locking oneself away from the dead.

All DVDs the gang had found were now in the RV, as was all that they had not yet consumed, mostly soap and shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste, which had lasted longer than the food. Gwen was careful to pack all the bandages they had made, while the gang already loaded up their clothes and any personal effects that they could not be expected to leave behind. It was all too familiar. For the third time in three months, they had packed their entire lives into a few bags.

That night, as Lorelai lay sleeping in the next room and Hannah was already crashed out next to him, Mack sat up, feeling extremely nervous about the days ahead. But still, they had lasted this long, but he knew that surviving for months in a world of the dead did not mean that they couldn’t die tomorrow from one stupid mistake. He found a legal pad and used a ballpoint pen to write down something for posterity, something to show that they had lived this long, that they had been here, and that they had even existed. Mack was certainly aware that the chances that anyone would ever read it were remote in the extreme, but he couldn’t go out there and die anonymously, he could not leave nothing behind to show that he had once tried to survive in this world. He wrote for himself, he wrote for them all, not for anyone who might happen by this place. He didn’t think anyone else was even out there anymore.

Mack got a serious case of writer’s block, however. How does one try to sum up their whole existence in a note that no one will ever read? How does one put into the written word months and months of terror, death, uncertainty, and loneliness? He sat by the front widow, smoking and staring at the stars, who were not quick to offer their advice.

Mack couldn’t take it anymore. He sat down on the couch in the small living room and began writing. He had no idea what he was going to write from one sentence to the next. His pen guided him.

[Note Begins]

If you are reading this, you have come to a place that cannot offer you anything to help you in these dark times. For that I am sorry, but we used what we could before we moved on. For all I know, the five of us are the only ones left, and we cannot survive for long by leaving anything behind that we can use, in the vain hopes that someone else is still out there.

For what it is worth, the five of us came here and stayed for a few weeks, after days on the road and nearly two months in the house of Darren Krieger, who lived and died before we could meet him outside of Sedona, Arizona, and we ourselves came all the way to this desolate place from Phoenix. Don’t ask how we made it this far. I don’t know myself.

But we were here. The five of us lived, and we lived here for a short time before venturing out there again, and I think that this time, we will not survive long enough to reach another place, certainly not one that I am willing to call home. But we were here, and you should know that we lived long enough to believe that we were the only people left on earth.

If you are another survivor, or a group of them, I can’t tell you much beyond that. Chances are, you are older than I am. Good luck, and take care of each other.

Sincerely,

Michael Chamberlain “Mack” Burrows

Hannah Louise Campbell

Gwendolyn Francis DeLancie

Kristian Aaron Polakowski

Lorelai Elizabeth Sigurdson


The last of The Twelve.


[Note Ends]

Mack put the pad on the kitchen counter and left it there, no signs or arrows or anything like Krieger had done. He did not pick it up again. Mack went to bed next to a sleeping and alluringly snoring Hannah, who seemed to not be dreaming, and Mack at least smiled, for she was experiencing the only peace that seemed to be left in the world.

But that part was done. Now there was something left behind that said that they had been there, that they had survived this long, and that they had once even lived at all.

Mack was now able to go.

At seventeen, he was ready to die.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Wrecking Ball » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:22 am

That is not the end, right?

If it is, then it is a very nicely written part that has a feel of an ending.

But yea, MOAR please.
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-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:00 am

Mack’s sleep had at best been spotty, waking up from the many nightmares he had had that night, peering into the dark, wondering where he was, and sometimes even falling asleep before knowing the answer. A couple of times, he dreamt of home, of his mother, his father, and his kid brother, dreaming a dream of normalcy long gone. He would wake up from those to find himself lying next to Hannah, and wondered what would have been better, waking up to the old world or this one. He also wondered if such questions made him a bad boyfriend.

Morning came and the gang slowly woke up. Kris, having been the first back in the waking world, had to go out to the RV to make their coffee, as no one wanted to risk leaving the coffee maker behind. They drank coffee and brushed their teeth, got dressed, and worried. The road was waiting for them, and everyone knew, or thought they knew, what was out there on that road. It was the anticipation of leaving this place mixed with the apprehension of not knowing whether or not anything better was out there.

Mack asked Hannah, “Hey cutie, you ready for this?”

“I don’t know, handsome. Does it matter? We’re doing it. The sooner we get out of here, the sooner we can find a roof and a bed that we can call ours. I just want to find us a home.”

“Me too Hannah, me too. You have everything?”

“I just put my overnight bag inside. Let me see…I have my smokes…my lighter…iPod…sunglasses…I think I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

The gang began to gather around the RV, as though afraid of being left behind. Lorelai was last to arrive, having just come from the bathroom. Her arm was functioning better, but there was no time to wait for full recovery. She looked somber, as though she had changed her mind about getting away from this place.

“Lorelai, you all right?” Gwen asked her.

“I think so, I’m just…I hope there’s somewhere for us to go. I don’t want to have to stay in a place like this again. I want…I want a place where I can spend the rest of my life without worrying about those things, you know? I just…I just hope it’s out there.”

“Well, we won’t find it sitting here.” Mack said. He allowed them all to enter the RV before himself, except for Kris, who stood by the gate. He climbed in after them and said, “Now let’s go home.” He then looked directly at Lorelai. “All of us.”

Kris opened the gate and the RV rumbled out, Kris jumping in quickly. Mack turned north on 89 and they quickly passed beyond sight of the RV park, to where they would never return.

Lorelai sat in the front seat next to Mack as they headed north, with Hannah munching on dry Boo Berry cereal at the table and Kris and Gwen cuddled up on the couch. It was quite silent for the first few minutes, and before long, the town of Mt. Pleasant came into view ahead of them. They continued into the town and saw that the place was more or less the stereotypical idea of Main Street USA, or at least Mack’s own ideas of it. The stores were mostly locally owned and had obviously been around for generations, but the windows of just about every building were boarded up, and there were signs of a battle everywhere, though no walking dead were around. There were, however, bodies in the street, looking torn apart, but not all of them looked as though the dead had taken them. Rather, it seemed that they had been killed by gunfire, but Mack didn’t stop to look. As he kept driving, he saw some wooden signs outside some of the doors, warning looters and so on to stay away or risk getting shot. Some appeared to have not heeded those warnings. Mack could feel as though the scope of a rifle was aimed right at him and his paranoia kicked in, even though he guessed that whoever had barricaded themselves in those houses and businesses had died months ago from one thing or another. At the northern edge of town, they saw what was obviously the remains of a gas station, which had exploded leaving charred skeletons of the building behind, and of course, some real charred skeletons. Mack could only wonder how many of them had been living and how many were living dead when the station blew.

Mt. Pleasant no longer lived up to its name. Mack didn’t stop.

Lorelai fell asleep in the passenger seat while Mack plugged in his MP3 player, turning on a playlist that contained more than a few Ted Nugent songs, and Lorelai shot awake when ‘Free for All’ blared out of the speakers.

“What the fuck?” she yelled.

“Oh hey Lorelai, you’re awake.”

“Where are we?”

“About three miles north of where we were when you fell asleep. You weren’t out long. But I need something to fill the air, and this badass shit is it. You know, I’ll bet he’s still alive?”

“Who?” Kris asked.

“Ted Nugent. I bet every walking corpse within twenty miles of his house is down and out. That guy…bad mother fucker. He was one of my dad’s favorites.”

“Oh, I’m sure he’s dead like everyone else.” Lorelai said.

“Lorelai, are you saying that we’ve survived this long but Ted Nugent didn’t?”

“Sorry, but probably.”

“Lorelai, anyone who thinks that Ted Nugent wouldn’t survive this…is a fucking Communist.”

They didn’t see anything but more natural scenery until 89 veered of to the right and became US Highway 6, while Mack cut to the left to get to I-15 at a city called Provo.

Provo was the largest city they had seen after leaving Phoenix. There were many references, both in road signs and billboards, to the ‘Provo-Orem Metro Area,” of which Mack had never heard. This place was a genuine city as opposed to a dirtwater town out in the middle of nowhere, and the place looked as such as place should after what had happened in a city of probably half a million. Cars were crunched into accidents that blocked entire city streets. Police cars were burned out and large vehicles could be seen sticking out of the buildings where they had crashed. Then Mack and the others saw something that caused all of them to fall silent, unable to take in the scene.

A large Mormon church (they supposed), a genuine cathedral, was smashed as though the hand of God had destroyed it, but it didn’t take long to see what had done so. They couldn’t see much of it, but they all knew the tip of an airliner wing when they saw one.

Corpses were everywhere. Radio antennas had toppled, a fire truck had flipped over and slid into the entrance of a Wal-Mart, and a navy helicopter (whatever it was doing way out here) had bellyflopped right into a row of school buses. It was truly a horror, worse than the trip from the school to Southwestern Firearms had ever been. Mack felt sick to his stomach and his head began to pound. Lorelai began to cry and the others began closing the blinds of the windows, a luxury Mack did not have. He didn’t stop for anything, but came close, as more than once he had to squeeze by the wrecked cars.

Worst of all were the bodies, thousands of them, some on the ground, others shuffling towards the RV, though I-15 was elevated and none could reach them from the city streets, but those on the interstate raised their hands as they passed, and the girls (and Kris) whimpered as they could hear the sounds of undead hands thumping against the RV.

“Mack, peddle this fucking thing faster! We have to get out of here before those things surround us!” Kris yelled.

“Shut the fuck up, Kris! If I go any faster, I could wreck! Do you see how much shit’s all over the place?” Mack screamed back.

“There’s a billion of them!” Gwen screamed.

Mack couldn’t increase his speed, lest he hit one of the many obstructions that littered the interstate. He got around this wreck or that, and more than a few times the gang could hear the heavy thump as they hit a zombie and plowed through it. The sounds of moans were everywhere, filling the air and their ears, and later, their nightmares.

Mack was about to lose his mind. “Everyone shut your eyes and keep your heads down!” He almost panicked. He had never seen so many before, and wanted to get the hell away before too many got in his way, making travel impossible. If Mack had ever had a worse nightmare than this in his whole life, it was totally forgotten now.

After two hours of traveling through Provo-Orem, Mack could see open country beyond, but had to agonizingly maintained a moderate speed, as wrecked cars and crumbled freeway barricades were everywhere. He finally got the city and the horde behind him as the quiet countryside of Utah replaced the destroyed city behind them. After they were a mile or so from the nearest suburb, Mack got out and pissed by the side of the road, followed by Kris, who was almost white with terror. The girls took turns in the RV bathroom.

After getting back in, Kris said, “Well, that was fun, let’s never do that again.”

Hannah replied, “Fucking-A.”

Within a few minutes, they were headed north, with the hell of Provo behind them.

This time, going against the flow of panicked survivors long dead was easier, but still a challenge. On the opposite side of the interstate they saw a long line of cars, some burned out, other abandoned, some smashed into each other. This one really hit Mack hard, as this was no random accident or anything of the sort, but it looked like a whole city had tried to head south away from what was behind them. The vehicles, which included regular cars, trucks, and SUVs all the way up to armored cars, ambulances, and fire trucks, stretched literally as far as they could see. It was now a true wonder to Mack and the others how the roads leading out of Phoenix didn’t look like this.

And mixed among the cars were some of the former passengers.

Mack shut it out and kept going, noticing that the mess thinned out a little as he headed north. Still, there were a few wrecks on his side of the interstate, and it seemed that some were those morons who had tried to get to the other side and take the mostly unused northbound lanes, which other motorists had had attempted to do, inevitably resulting in them colliding. Mack had to swerve here and there to avoid the crushed monuments to human stupidity, but there was no place he could see that wouldn’t allow an RV to pass. It was slow going but easier than Provo had been, a lot easier.

Mack looked at his watch. It had taken them three hours to go about seventy miles.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:17 am

Even as Provo was now miles behind them, Mack was still shivering and the others were worse off than that. Provo had shaken them to the core and shown them just how the world now looked, not just the scrap of road between John Basilone High School and a gun store, but a whole city of death. To Mack, it was what the capital city of hell must look like, provided that hell was administered by local civic governments.

He also knew that not much farther north on I-15 was Salt Lake City, a place that was probably several times as large as Provo.

The gang had not forgotten what the dead were like, and how nerve racking it was to drive right by them, with gray, decomposing arms reaching for them, and while they did not long for the RV park where they had woken up that morning, they all wondered if anything they might find on the road could be worth what they had just seen.

Lorelai, for instance, put voice to her fears of what lay ahead.

“Mack, isn’t Salt Lake City bigger than that place we just left?”

“Considerably so.” Mack’s voice was shaking, as Lorelai’s was.

“Then why the hell are we going there?”

“We’re not. We’re not getting within a few miles of that place. But there are all kinds of communities in the surrounding area that might be worth a look. Places to grab shit and all that, but no, we’re not entering the city. The atlas shows a lot of little towns and suburbs all over the place up there. That’s where we’re going.”

Mack, who had turned off his MP3 player in Provo, turned it on again, this time playing some more recent stuff. It helped him get calm, but the road was clearly going to be a tough run for now. He wanted to break out into open country, as in areas without major population centers nearby. He thought that north of Salt Lake City, if the city could be avoided by going around, might provide just that, at least for a time until they had to start heading south after a while.

Signs for Salt Lake City came into view and Mack took a turnoff to a largely residential area in a suburb he couldn’t even name. He took a small road that wound along the base of the mountains to the east, keeping I-15 in sight somewhat, though he was quick to discover that he was now looking at I-80 which, according to his road atlas, crossed with I-15 in the city. The road wound here and there until they crested a small hill at what the sign said was a ‘scenic overlook.’ Mack wanted to get a lay of the land and stopped there with the agreement of the gang. He got out with his binoculars and the others joined him. They had a marvelous view of a large part of the city.

Or, where the city had once been.

“Oh…my…God…” Gwen said.

“I can’t believe this…the…whole city? How could this have happened to the whole city?” Kris eeked out.

Hannah stuttered, “What…what could have happened here?”

Loerlai just gasped.

In front of them was the charred ruin of an entire city, burned to the ground everywhere. Mack looked through his binoculars, and from where he was, it did not seem that a single building was still standing. The whole place was rubble or burned out buildings tumbled over. It looked like not one thing could have survived that terror. Salt Lake City, even physically, no longer existed.

“How the fuck…what could have done that?” Hannah more or less repeated her previous question.

Mack hazarded a guess through his utter shock. “The place burned down. Something caused a fire and nothing could stop it. The whole place went up.”

Mack’s own assertion hit him like a wrench in the balls. What did that mean? How many people down there had been alive when the city was destroyed? How many were in those scorched cars, trying to get away when the fire overtook them all? How many had hidden from the dead in their own boarded-up homes with their families only to die helplessly when their entire neighborhoods were razed to the ground? Were more living killed by that great fire than the dead? From where he was, Mack couldn’t see anything moving. Not one thing.

“Let’s get the hell away from this place. There’s nothing for us here. We head east.” Mack said.

Kris challenged him on the spot. “What the fuck? East? What do you think is out east?”

“Maybe a place that doesn’t look like this, Kris. Why? What the fuck do you need up north?”

“But east…that’s closer to the fucking Mississippi River, genius. I thought we weren’t going too far that way. You have your head up your ass?”

“Not as badly as my foot’s going up yours, brainiac.” Gwen whispered something in Kris’s ear and he shut up fast. Then she moved on to Mack.

“Hey you fucking first graders…this isn’t helping. There’s a whole city down there, burned to a goddamned crisp! You want to argue now? Let’s just go!”

Mack ignored her. “We’re going east because we already know what’s south. We’re not going to the Pacific, because we already know what’s there. North? We’ve come what…maybe four or five hundred miles north, and for this? This is what we came all this way for? You want to go further north? We go east, simply because there’s nothing else left to do.”

They all climbed back in, with Mack more or less having to support Hannah who was breaking down, and Lorelai wasn’t much better.

Kris looked sheepishly at Mack as they climbed in. “Mack, I’m sorry, I just don’t…I don’t know what to do…”

“Don’t worry about it little brother, let’s just get the hell away from here. As far away as we can.”

They were all back in the RV and heading east again, hoping to find a place to catch a major highway. Near the onramp for I-80, they found a truck stop, one with a few trucks outside, though not all were still on their wheels. One was overturned while another was buried in the fence that surrounded the place. After consulting the gang, Mack pulled in.

“Lorelai, you sit in the passenger seat. We’ll deal with this,” Mack told her.

Knowing the drill, they all went inside. The place was hell, particularly because of the obvious small arms fire that had taken place. A couple of rotting bodies lay on the floor, torn to shreds by gunfire. Hannah threw up when she saw that one body had a smaller one in its dead arms, complete with baby bottle. There wasn’t much inside, as the place had been shot to hell with enough gunfire to drop a thousand zombies. Little bits of snack cakes, fountain drink cups, and Ritz cracker boxes were all over the place, as though the very inside of the place exploded.

“Come on Mack, this place is for shit. We should just go.” Kris said.

“Kris, I think you’re right. Let’s…”

They heard the moans. Out of the office, out of the diner, everywhere, living dead came at them. Around the time that they saw that the inside had hidden many of the dead, the horn honked furiously outside.

“Fuck me, let’s go!” Mack screamed.

They ran outside, only to see a zombie trying to claw at the passenger side door. There were a dozen or so in sight, closing fast.

“Follow me!” Mack yelled, and he led them towards the front of the RV with the nearest zombie stumbling after. Mack raised his shotgun and fired, virtually vaporizing its head. Chunks of brain and skull matter plopped noisily on the ground behind the body as it hit the ground, sounding like a heavy wet sponge dropped from a roof. Mack didn't have time for this to affect him as the others had. He screamed at his friends, "Let's go! There's a shitload of them out here! What the fuck are you waiting for?"

They all managed to get inside before any others got close, and Mack slipped behind the wheel and hit the gas, speeding out of the place as more and more were coming into view, moaning and shuffling after them. Almost in a state of Panic, Mack drove them out of there and onto I-80, headed east. It was already the afternoon, and after a few minutes in I-80, Mack saw the signs for Park City.

Everyone caught their breath, but they were still shaken up about just how quickly the dead can converge on a group when no one could see them. Mack kept going through Park City, not willing to exit the RV again, as they passed another Main Street USA type town, leaving it behind after seeing the streets littered with bodies and some living dead coming out of the alleys and doors. Although there were not many, he couldn't bring himself to stop if a mountain of his favorite junk food was right in front of his windshield.

This was no place to stop. He was on the verge of screaming and the others were just holding their heads down, trying to shut the world out. It seemed as though all of northern Utah was a place of terror. Park City, not being a large place, was soon passed, leaving Mack's heart about to explode and his stomach in a series of knots.

Mack got off I-80 and headed south on US Highway 40 which cut east soon enough. That old familiar feeling came back, the feeling that they weren’t going anywhere and nothing good would come from getting there. Mack’s hands were almost frozen to the wheel. He knew he would see terrible things after leaving the RV park, but this was beyond anything his young mind could imagine.

After about half an hour on US 40, the gang found a rest stop, or at least that what’s the signs said. No restrooms, no vending machines, just a couple of picnic tables and a rusty trashcan. It was getting on to four in the afternoon, and Mack had had enough.

“We’re staying here tonight. Nothing around here and the road is bordered by barbed wire. We should be okay if we keep our eyes open.” No one disagreed. This place could be exited quickly if they showed up. They ate simply and said virtually nothing. This had been a terrible day. No one knew if anything out east would be better, but that's where they were now headed.

That night, Mack was on watch, and he felt a hand on his shoulder. It could only be Hannah.

“Michael, are you okay?”

“No, I’m not. I don’t know when I will be again. Jesus, I don’t know what was worse, Provo or Salt Lake City. This trip…how much fucked-up shit can we see in one day?”

“I’m sorry Michael. I…can I sit with you?”

“Of course, Hannah.”

They sat up for a while, smoking and talking about what lay ahead. They finally retired again when Gwen was awoken for her watch. Mack and Hannah fell into bed, holding each other. Mack was quivering, forcing them to hold each other tighter. Gwen couldn’t hear from where she was, but Mack had to cover his face with a blanket.

He couldn’t let anyone but Hannah hear him cry.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:29 am

Although Mack had completed his watch hours before, he woke up with a start from a dream, a terrible one that made him unwilling to even try to sleep again for fear that what he had dreamed of would still be there, waiting for him. He relieved Kris and told him to get some sleep, ignoring Kris’s assertion that he still had an hour and a half to go before being relived, and Hannah was supposed to take over when that happened. Still, he sent Kris to bed and stood watch for the rest of the night.

Dawn broke over the Utah landscape, causing Mack, as usual, to brew a pot of coffee. The smell didn’t wake anyone else up quite yet so he slammed a cup or two and went outside into the surprisingly crisp morning air to take a piss. He put on his gun belt and relieved himself on the trash can of the so-called rest stop. Mack decided to stay outside and stretch his legs, not really caring if anything was lurking around outside or not.

Mack had a smoke and walked around the RV a few times, working the kinks out of his legs. He stared down east US 40 with a feeling of terrible dread, that this might be the day they would run into something they couldn’t escape. Whatever was going to happen, it was east. They had been to the west and it was far worse than anything they had seen in Arizona, and Mack just wanted to get the hell away from it. There was no new home behind them. If they were going to find it and survive to see this whole thing end, it would be east.

Mack took a while to stretch his legs, long enough that the others began to wake up. Hannah came outside wearing her revolver to see if anything was wrong. She asked Mack that and he answered as honestly as he could.

“Everything cutie, everything.”

Hannah looked into Mack’s face and almost gasped when she saw him. The way the morning light was reflecting off his head almost gave her the idea that Mack had just gotten his first gray hairs. His eyes were bloodshot and beneath those were large black circles, giving him a sad, desperate appearance. His skin was pale and his hands wouldn’t stop shaking. When Hannah looked into Mack’s eyes, it was as though he was living death. It was the look of a young man who knew he was going to die.

“Michael, we’re past the bad shit. I looked at the atlas. We have mostly open country ahead of us. We’ll find a place to grab some food, maybe fill the tank, and maybe we can even get a roof for a while. We can do this, handsome. We can. But I still think we can’t do it without you.”

Mack didn’t smile or even indicate that he had heard her, not until he spoke a number of seconds after Hannah did.

“It just gets worse. We keep going and we see worse things. What are we going to see next? Provo was…my god, how did we ever get through that? Miles and miles…all those dead hands banging on the side of the RV, bodies, burned-out cars…that church? That fucking church…what the hell was on board that airliner when it smashed into that fucking church? Can you imagine it? A bunch of terrified refugees thinking they had it made, going off to California or Hawaii or whatever, and some fucker reanimates on board…imagine if it was the pilot? What about the people inside the church? Did they hear it before it crushed them? Did they see it coming but the streets were too full of those pus fucks to even try to run? Were they so wrapped up in begging God to save their asses that they didn’t even notice until the priest had a jet engine stuck up his ass? Then we get to Salt Lake City…the whole city…did you ever think that we’d see anything like that? Fuck me, that place made Phoenix look like Mayberry or something. The whole goddamned town. I can just imagine a thousand people in that place…the Mormon Temple or whatever, screaming for their souls or whatever Mormons do when shit hits the fan…and those things break in, right into God’s house. And that supposes that they just didn’t keep praying and praying when they burned alive. I can absolutely see it if I close my eyes. I…I don’t want to imagine what we’ll see next. What, Grand Junction is ground zero for a nuke? It just gets worse and worse. We need to find someplace and fast. One day, Hannah. One day. We saw the worst of it in one day.”

Mack trailed off, unable to continue for fear of breaking down. Hannah held him, as she knew he needed and said, “Michael, I’m here. You’ve always been there for us, let me be here for you. Whatever you have going on, you’re not in this alone. Your friends are with you, and I’m right here, and whatever happens, I’m here. Wherever that road leads, we’ll face it together.”

“I would have died long before this if it hadn’t been for you, Hannah, do you know that?”

“No, I didn’t. But I don’t understand. I haven’t saved your life or anything like that.”

“Yes you have. I would have eaten my gun by now if I didn’t have you. It’s so hard to go on…so fucking hard to have hope that there’s someplace out there, somewhere that road leads, for us to just be together and live out our lives. If I didn’t have that hope, that you and I can get through this together, I wouldn’t have a single reason to go one more mile up that road.” Mack went off to one of the picnic tables and sat down on the table, putting his boots on the seat. He put his face in his hands in shame.

“Michael, what it it?”

“Hannah?”

“Michael, talk to me.”

“I can’t remember what my father looks like. I can hear his voice, but I can’t remember his face. I’ve…I’ve forgotten. I don’t even have a picture. I have no way to ever see his face again. I’ll never see my mother’s face again, my grandfather’s, and what do I do when this picture of my kid brother wears out and fades? I’ll forget it all. Everything I was before this all happened will be…dead. I’ll be just as dead as those things out there that did all this shit to us.”

“Michael, I’m facing the same thing. We all are. All that really matters now is saving who we can. We keep going. We go until we can’t go anymore. It’s the only thing left to do. I won’t let go of hope that there’s a new home out there somewhere, and I don’t care if I reach it if you aren’t there. I’d rather spend the rest of my life in that damned RV with you than get to the nicest house in the world alone. Remember that.”

“I will, I will. But what about the others? Do you even think that Kris and Gwen will make it that far? They’re both going to come apart before this ends. Kris…God help him, no one tries harder, but he’s not as strong as he thinks he is, and with Gwen to worry about…this whole thing is just going to overwhelm him, and when that happens, what then? Gwen is fucked then. She won’t make it without him. And Lorelai? She in bad enough shape as it is. Some Jesus freak tries to kill her and comes pretty fucking close to doing it, and only because she was lonely. She’s still lonely, and I don’t think the road is going to change that. If we don’t get somewhere soon, we’ve all had it.”

“Then we stick together, like you always said. We take care of each other. We’re a gang. We’re family, and that’s what we do. That’s why Colin got everyone killed. He either forgot that or never knew. You’re better than him. We’re better than him. I’m not saying that you’ll absolutely, positively keep us all alive and get us to the promised land or whatever, but you’ll keep us willing to take another step and drive another mile until the end.”

“Hannah, what would I have ever done if you hadn’t pushed me into babbling like an idiot back at the school and tell you how pretty your eyes are?”

“My guess? Masturbate a lot.”

“Probably. Anyway, we should probably start thinking about getting something to eat and having a look at the atlas. I want to make sure we don’t hit Grand Junction. I can only imagine how fucked up that place it. I think it’s going to be getting worse the farther east we go. But there’s no other way.”

“Then let’s go. There’s no point hanging around this place.” Hannah turned to head to the RV until Mack stopped her.

“Hannah?”

“Michael?”

“I love you.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:28 pm

After eating what passed for a balanced breakfast these days, the gang headed out again on eastbound US 40, uncertain of what was ahead, but fearful that something would be waiting that was as bad or worse than the day before, which was already giving them nightmares. Kris and Lorelai dreamt about what they had seen the previous day, and their faces betrayed to the others the night terrors from which morning had rescued them, only to land them in the middle of the real thing.

Hannah took the driving for the day, and instead of Mack crashing out on the bed in the back to recharge himself, he took the passenger seat, unwilling to be away from her for long. What they experienced the first couple of hours heading east was a whole lot of nothing. They saw some isolated ranch houses and some tiny communities, but there was really just nothing out there that could compel a person to stop, that is until they saw a Ford F-350 in the parking lot of a tiny Mormon church a few yards off the highway. Mack asked Hannah to stop.

“Why are we stopping here?” she asked.

“Did you ever share a class with John? John Hyser I mean?” Mack replied.

“No, I don’t think I ever knew him. Who was he?”

“A friend of mine somewhat. His older brother had one of those, a Ford F-350. It runs on diesel, or at least his did. I’m just wondering if the tank is empty.”

“Good catch, Michael. Should we give it a go?” Hannah asked.

“Why not?”

Lorelai took the watch again, as she was not going out for anything physical until her arm was back to normal. The gang got out armed as usual as Mack helped Kris refill the tank with the full gas can. Once the tank was full, they carried the now-empty can over to the truck. They (or at least Mack) considered themselves fortunate that the gas cap did not come with a lock. They unscrewed the cap and Kris sucked through the hose, and everyone was about to jump for joy when a flow of diesel gushed through and began to refill the gas can. The gang alternated between watching each others’ backs and watching the filling process, hoping to squeeze every last drop from the truck, and Gwen went so far as to unleash a “Fuck yeah!” when the can was topped off. They manhandled the can back to the rack on the ass end of the RV and turned to take a good long look at this lonely little church.

“So, you think there’s anything in there? Anything we can use?” Kris asked.

“Beats me. I’ve never been a church-going kind of girl, so I can’t say for certain if that place will help us replenish our Slim Jims and Cup o’ Noodles.” Hannah said dryly.

As they discussed the possibility of looting on holy ground, they heard a banging sound, which immediately caused everyone to nervously look around and start slapping leather. It was Hannah who realized that the sound was coming from the front doors of the church, and a low moaning sound could be heard by those listening for it.

“Fuck, I guess we aren’t getting shit out of that place…” Kris said.

“Let’s get out of here, let’s go before those doors come down. We got what there was to get.” Mack said. They all climbed back into the RV and headed east again. They passed towns that were so small that Valle would not have been out of place in this area, but there was nothing like the Krieger house. The isolated houses out here had no perimeter of any kind, unless one wanted to count the barbed wire fences that separated one property from another, which would slow down the dead but not keep them out. Also, they didn’t see much in the way of boarded up windows. No place out here was going to give them what Darren Krieger died to provide.

The miles passed as Hannah chose the music. She played a full playlist of Angry Johnny and the Killbillies, which no one else had ever heard of. It seemed to put her in a better mood and even made her bounce a bit in her seat. That made everyone else get into the sound and the morale increased a bit, if only for a short time. It was another hour and a half of driving before they saw a town that merited being called one. It was Vernal, and if the sign at the city limits was to be believed, about seven thousand people had lived here.

Hannah drove in slowly, trying to see if anything was about to pour out of the doors to claw at the RV, but nothing did. In fact, the town looked like things had been looking up before the fall. There was a lot of new construction, mostly hotels, shopping centers, and even a mall. This town was seriously on the upswing before something came along and fucked it all up, and what did that was plainly obvious. Still, nothing came.

What they did not see in addition to living or living dead was the usual scene of towns these days, shot to pieces with corpses littering the roads, broken windows, or wrecked cars blocking the lanes. Whatever had happened here, it was planned and executed in an orderly fashion. It was like Sedona in many ways, except that they didn’t stop to check the stores. Not yet, anyway.

It was around what they assumed to be the city center that they stopped, as numerous stores of all kinds now surrounded them, and nothing was seen to be moving in any direction. There was a surprising number of music stores, convenience stores, and chain supermarkets, as well as restaurants that could be found in any town. It appeared that for a town of seven thousand, it was quickly outgrowing the ‘mom and pop’ style of business. Hannah pulled in front of one of the media stores, a Barnes and Noble, and they discussed their plans, which were not much different. Buddy system, leave a hand to shoot, honk if anything comes by, etc. Lorelai sat in the front watching her four companions go in, hands on holsters. Inside though, the place was untouched, even though the place was totally unlocked. The books were neatly placed on shelves and not one thing was out of place. Most importantly, the place was fully stocked. If anyone came around Vernal to loot, they apparently weren’t interested in books. Mack certainly was, though.

Rather than packing what they wanted and keeping an eye out, they instead cleared the whole store, which did not take long. They moved aisle by aisle, finding nothing but a bookstore that was as neat and orderly as it would have been before the fall. They checked the office and the bathrooms, as well as the storage rooms in the back. There was nothing, not one sign that looters or the living dead had ever been inside.

Hannah said, “Damn, this again. Where the hell is everyone? This is just like Sedona. No people, no walking stiffs, no nothing.”

Kris took a guess. “Maybe the military evacuated this place like Sedona. Maybe everyone just got out before anything hit.”

“Maybe. So, let’s shop. Keep your eyes open though, and keep an ear to the outside. If that horn starts honking, we bolt with what we have.” Mack said.

The gang grabbed some store bags and moved to their favorite sections, still using the buddy system. Mack grabbed what was of interest to him, of course, but a new subject was home medical care, and he took a couple of books on that subject that looked extensive. He also got his hands on some books about firearms and various subjects in history. Within about five minutes, everyone had a fully loaded bag and they headed out, one hand on their bags and the other on their pistols. They climbed into the RV and dumped their bags on the bed, hoping to find a place for all these books in an RV that already had every luggage and storage compartment almost full.

“So, did I get anything?” Lorelai asked.

“Er…what kind of books did you want?” Gwen replied.

She asked for series of novels by some author Mack had never heard of, and Mack took Kris with him and they went back inside, filling a back with everything by the author in question before heading back out and handing her the bag. She acted like it was the greatest gift ever and went so far as to plant kisses on Mack and Kris’s lips. Mack silently decided that she wasn’t half the kisser Hannah was. Kris thought that she and Gwen were about equal.

“Christ Mack, where are we going to find room for all these?” Gwen asked him.

“Huh, I don’t know. Isn’t there some kind of netting in the berth for this sort of thing?”

“Yeah, but you don’t really think we’re going to be using that, do you?” she said, not wanting to lose any sleeping space, even though the netting was already installed and they wouldn’t actually be losing anything.

“Then put your haul in it. It won’t be taking up space that the net wasn’t already taking up. Hannah and I will stash our stuff by the bed. Lorelai’s can go behind the driver’s seat between that and the couch. Okay, that was worth it, now what should we try next?”

As it turns out, a lot. Over the next two hours, they went back into the Barnes and Noble to load up on music, though obviously, no album they got was younger than six months. They grabbed a lot more DVDs (later they would have to use Mack’s camping knife to pry the plastic security cases off, and this was after they wisely held their bags over the alarms sensors by the door), and even some fancy coffee flavors from the little coffee shop that made up about a quarter of the store. They spent part of the rest of that time in an Army/Navy store, where Mack at least thought they had struck gold, as it was orderly condition just as the bookstore was. There was all manner of things they needed, or at least thought they could use, and the fact that there wasn’t much room left in the RVs storage compartments didn’t mean there wouldn’t be soon as their food became depleted. It seemed that everything they saw could be of use either on the road or simply in the world as it now was. Everyone got their hands on a military mess kit, some camp crockery (storing that was not fun), as well as some BDU pants and either combat or hiking boots. There were knives, machetes, flashlights, light sticks, Zippo lighters and cans of lighter fluid, gloves, and so on. They all had to carry this out to the RV, and Mack told them all bluntly to remove all the food from one of the cabinets and spread it out on the bed, because they needed the room and this food was what was getting eaten first.

A gun store, this one being called The Hunter’s Cabin, was just off the main commercial area and it had been Lorelai who spotted it, though no one held out much hope that anything was inside. Amazingly, the door was unlocked and no alarm was sounded (not that it was amazing to them anymore considering what the other stores had been like). But the place had certainly been visited recently, or at least since the infestation hit months earlier, but this was not a ransacking. Instead, everything that remained was still neatly laid out on shelves and racks, there simply wasn’t much left, at least not compared to what there obviously had been before.

“Okay Mack” Kris said, “we’re really pushing it if we think we’re going to load this stuff in there. I’ll be amazed if the RV can even move if we take all of this.”

“Don’t worry about that, little brother. We’re only taking ammo and maybe some cleaning kits or something. We already have guns, but maybe we should grab a couple of extras, you know? Just so be safe.”

There were no green ammo cans in this store as there had been in Southwestern Firearms, so they had to use plastic shopping bags. They got a few boxes for what they had in the RV, and a couple of cleaning kits, but that was about it. None of the guns really jumped out at anyone. They had better ones outside and on their belts. The good stuff was gone.

“Well, that was weird. You think that the owner took what he wanted before skipping town?” Hannah wondered aloud.

“Who knows? But this town is a fucking gold mine. Imagine how much shit we could get out of this place if we had a bigger ride.”

They went back outside in a tune, thrilled that whatever happened in Vernal hadn’t also emptied the stores as it had in Sedona. With all the food, ammunition, books, clothes, hygiene products, and entertainment the RV could hold, they began to head to the eastern edge of town, patting each other on the back and almost cheering for the bonanza they had just found.

That gave them a pleasant ride for a mile or so, at least.

Mack saw something on the left side of the road, something he couldn’t quite comprehend, but he felt as though he needed to see what it was. It was an athletic field, presumably to one of the local schools. There seemed to be a lot of things in there, but he couldn’t even guess what they were.

“What is that? What’s that stuff all over the place in there?” Mack asked, wondering if anyone just happened to have better vision than him. There were some muttered questions, but no one could tell. Mack pulled the RV up to the place and four of them walked onto the field, wondering if this was some kind of National Guard supply depot or something. It looked like a large amount of equipment was just lying around.

They got closer and Mack realized that it wasn’t equipment.

He should have kept driving.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Blackgunboy » Wed Dec 30, 2009 8:54 pm

Mack and the gang need one of those trailers that I've seen pulled behind RV's. Great installment, thank you.

MOAR.

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Samurai Penguin » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:03 pm

So the RV is a diesel!

Dammit, Ponyboy...you have a talent for cliffhangers, which makes us all want to praise you and kill you at the same time. :mrgreen:
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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 2:43 am

What the gang had found was a huge collection of bodies, but that in itself did not shock them as much as it would have had they not already passed through a heavily infested nightmare like Provo and what used to be Salt Lake City the day before.

These bodies though, were uncovered, all appeared to be lying on their backs, and were laid out in neat rows. The stink of decomposition was surprisingly subdued, but the bodies themselves were enough to instill the worst feeling of disgust and revulsion. Mack pulled his t-shirt over his nose and mouth and got closer against his better judgment. Hannah came with him but stayed a few feet behind. Mack began looking at the bodies, and all of them seemed to have something in common, other than all being dead. All had had their throats cut neatly from ear to ear, but none had knives or anything lying by them. Their wrists and ankles were completely unbound. It looked as though everyone, as there were thousands in this place, just knelt down and allowed themselves to be killed by someone else, someone who was not the living dead..

“Oh my fucking God…” Mack whimpered. He saw an entire row of children of all ages, their throats cut just like the adults and that was all it took. Mack finally threw up, but it got worse when he saw that again, none of them had knives or anything lying by them, but their dead hands, without exception as far as he could tell, clutched bibles.

This was too much. It seemed to him that the only plausible explanation for any of this, whether it be the bodies with cut throats or unlocked stores with stocked shelves, was that the whole city had engaged in mass suicide. It looked like everyone just knelt, as if in prayer, while someone moved up the rows, cutting throats to speed everyone to the next life before the dead could show up and do it for them.

At the base of the goal post opposite the entrance was a podium of some kind, the type probably used for public speaking. He could guess that this time, it had been used by some priest to offer the town’s residents a final prayer, a hope that God would forgive them for their manner of death, and God knows what else.

Mack ran from the scene, the others hot on his heels. They practically leapt into the RV and Mack sped out of the place in as he muttered things to himself that even he didn’t understand. This town had been a double-edged sword. There was much to be had, and they had taken what they could, but there was a price. There was always a price. Even at the end of the world, it seemed that nothing was free. They had the run of the town and access to everything the locals left behind on this earth, but the price was seeing just how desperate the people were to leave this earth before a horrible wave of living death crashed over them.

As though that wasn’t enough, the houses were small and lacked anything resembling a perimeter fence, at least those anyone could see. The amount of supplies to be had could have made this place ideal to put down roots, if a house was visible that suited them if the dead showed up to do what they couldn’t do to the locals.

And anyway, Mack just wanted to get away. This day was looking no better than the previous one.

Lorelai was almost screaming at Mack to tell her what they had seen inside, but he said nothing. He just drove, hands frozen to the steering wheel, eyes locked on the road, and heart slowly breaking.

The problem was that no one else was much help. Everyone else was whimpering and crying themselves, as no one could have seen that scene in Vernal without having their hearts rung out. Gwen began wailing, “They were just kids! They were just fucking kids!”

After hearing that, Lorelai didn’t push the issue. She didn’t want to know.

Mack continued on US 40, not even bothering to notice when he crossed into Colorado. State lines meant nothing anymore. There was no political boundary that could protect anyone from what horrors their minds and hearts chose to keep as they moved across this nightmare of a world. Mack said nothing for a couple of hours, as his whimpering stopped after a few minutes of getting the hell out of Vernal.

By the time Mack was able to speak, they were already deep within the Rocky Mountain State, as he unconsciously turned southeast onto State Highway 64 and then south onto 13, hoping to reach Interstate 70. They were passing Glenwood Springs, a town perhaps a hundred and twenty miles from Denver, where the gang was most certainly not going. Whatever Glenwood Springs had to offer them, Mack didn’t know, couldn’t guess, and couldn’t care in the slightest. It was just another place, another place that used to have a name, people, and buildings, none of which mattered anymore. It was a place where all who once lived there were dead, either stumbling around or torn apart on the ground, they were dead. The town was dead, just like the last town and the one before that and the one before that, and the next one, Mack suspected.

As they passed Glenwood Springs and back into open country, Mack was able to speak. He pulled over at a rest stop, a real one this time, and got out, sitting on a nearby bench. He put his face in his hands and cried. To the rest of the gang, it was nothing they hadn’t seen, but they feared to see it. Here he was, this punk kid who always seemed to know everything, who knew how to keep them alive, keep them going, to give them hope…but he was still a boy. He was a boy who should have never been in such a situation where everything could ride on his shoulders. Too many had counted on him, too many had expected too much from him, and too many allowed him to make the decisions and be responsible for the lives of others that now it seemed to Lorelai, Gwen, and Kris that they hadn’t been there for Mack. All three had, to one degree or another, thought that Hannah could look after Mack herself, and although she didn’t say it out loud, she wished they would realize that they were a group, a gang, damned near a family, and if everyone didn’t look out for everyone, they would all die.

Hannah looked out at Mack before exiting the RV, wondering if Mack was already dead. He was breathing, but something within him had not survived.

This was where Mack was able to talk, though whether or not it was to the others or himself, no one could say.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…I should have never take us this way, I should have never let you see that…this is all my fault, all my fault…”

Hannah came and put her hands on his shoulders, on the verge of crying again. “Michael?”

“…all my fault…”

“Michael, nothing was your fault…” she said.

“…please don’t hate me…”

“Michael?”

Mack sobbed as he said, “Please don’t hate me…I’m sorry…Jimbo…I’m sorry little brother…”
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 3:35 am

Mack sat there and sobbed for a while, not even knowing where he was or caring. Hannah backed off and grabbed her M1 Carbine out of the RV. She checked the magazine and racked the bolt as Mack had taught her. Then she said, “You all should grab your guns, bigger ones than what you have on your belts. We might be here for a bit.”

Kris, confused, asked, “Why not just get him in the RV and get the hell back on the road? We’re out here in the open, and God knows how many are crawling around out here. You want to be here when a hundred of the fuckers show up? I don’t.”

“Because we’re giving Michael all the time he needs to get past what we just saw. He’s in pain, can’t you see it? We owe him that much. If it takes him a fucking week to be right again, we give him a fucking week.” Hannah shot back.

“What are we supposed to do then? Sit here until he snaps out of it? I saw the same shit he did, and I’m dealing with it. That was messed up, those bodies, but we’ve seen worse than that. We can’t stay here. We have to go.” Kris continued.

“We saw what he saw, but it didn’t hurt us as much as him. You don’t understand, Kris. You never did. None of us did. What we’ve seen, that’s not why he’s there unable to fucking move. We did that.” Hannah was now on the verge of blowing up at the others.

“What do you mean? How did we do this? We didn’t fucking do this shit! Everything did this! The goddamned world, those dead things, that psycho back at the RV park, Krieger hanging ten in his own backyard, Colin getting half of us killed, that burned-out shell that used to be Salt Lake City…that’s what did this to him! We didn’t do a goddamned thing!” Kris was now yelling, apparently forgetting his own anxiety about how many could be around and how close they might be.

“No, you’re wrong, Kris. We did this. We’ve been doing this since he rounded us all up and led us to the school. We’ve killed him. We kept letting him make the decisions, we kept expecting him to have all the answers, we took everything and threw it in his face. Can you imagine what that must be like? Having to worry about all of us? None of the rest of us have gone through that, we’ve worried about ourselves and whoever’s close to us. You know that he has nightmares about those who didn’t make it? When I wake up at night, I hear him mumbling names like Reverend and DJ? Did you know that? He thinks that everything that’s happened to us is all his fault, because we made him responsible for it all. Now we’re going to wait until he’s ready to leave. Don’t bother challenging me on that. I don’t give a flying shit what any of you think right now. That’s what we’re doing, and you’d better get used to it.” Hannah didn’t even realize that she was chewing them out through her tears.

“And then what?” Kris was still not done. “Then what do we do? Keep scurrying around the fucking American West until we find the Emerald fucking City? I want what you and he both want, a new home, but we won’t find it like this. Where are we going next? To another place like Provo?”

“Easy. Michael had some idea about making a big circle around Denver without actually going in. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re not going into the city, but the atlas shows that the whole place is ringed with towns, and we’re going through those. Maybe we’ll find what we’re looking for. If Michael isn’t fit to drive when we’re ready to go, I’ll drive. I’ll take us where he planned.”

“Why? Why still go through with that bullshit plan?” Kris was raving to the point where Lorelai and even Gwen took a step back.

“Because that’s what Michael wanted, what he would do.” Hannah was now about to lose her temper, and things weren’t pretty when she did that.

“What Mack would have done? Yeah, we’ve done what he wanted, and look where it got us! Out here in the middle of nowhere, dodging those pus suckers everywhere we go, looking at rows and rows of dead kids, being shot at by God freaks, passing by whole cities burned to fucking ruins! He hasn’t led us anywhere but closer to hell! We’re no better off than when we ran away from the school with our tails under our legs, and you remember that day? You remember what he did to Colin? He crushed him with a bat! Yeah, Colin deserved it, but he beat him into a cripple and then just drove away while those things tore him apart! You really think that he’s the kind of guy we’re supposed to follow, huh? You think that he’s such an awesome leader that we should just follow him all over the fucking continent until we’re all a bunch of dead cannibals? Is that what…” Kris didn’t get another word out.

It was hard to talk for a bit after that. He had no idea Hannah could slap so hard.

“Shut your fucking fag mouth math nerd! You came all the way out here, going where he said for the same reason as anyone else! Because he at least had a plan! What did you have? You expected him to do all the planning and now you have the balls to bitch that you don’t like his plans? Why didn’t you try to come up with something better? This whole thing can’t be solved in your goddamned trigonometry book, egghead! He saved all our lives, and what have you done for him? Not a goddamned thing! You pester him all the time, and that’s all you ever done! Now look at him!” Hannah showing greater strength than anyone could have ever known she had, grabbed a suddenly very quiet Kris by the back of his neck. “I said look at him! If that were you, you’d shit your pants! Compared to him, you’re a spineless little pussy! Now keep your mouth shut and get behind him, and if you can’t do that, start walking!”

Kris was now on the verge of tears, which he held for a few seconds until he finally let them go, dropping to his knees and breaking down. Gwen tried to hold him, but there wasn’t much she could do. Gwen yelled at Hannah, “Are you happy now? Look at him! Girls like you treated him like shit before all this happened and here you are, doing it again! Haven’t bitches like you done enough damage?”

Lorelai jumped in now. “Oh shut up Gwen. If every other guy in the world wasn’t fucking dead, you’d have never given him a first look, let alone a second. You weren’t any better than anyone else. If things were still normal, you’d just shit on him yourself you little fucking tart.”

Gwen was now screaming right in Lorelai’s face. “And who the fuck asked you anything you one-armed slut? All you ever did was shove your tits in everyone’s face! Shit, you couldn’t even go one second without trying to bang the shit out of Jesse, and look what happened! You’re just another skank, and that’s why you have that hole in your arm you worthless whore-bag!”

Hannah intervened. “Both of you shut up! Shut up before I beat the shit out of both of you! I’ll fucking do it! I fucking will!”

Lorelai reverted to type at a particularly bad time. No one even noticed that Kris got up and walked back into the RV. Everyone was too busy releasing their anger on each other.

“Oh, this shit again, Hannah? Still lady of the house because you’re fucking that goddamned prick? Kris is right! He led us all the way out to this place, out in the middle of Bum Fuck and wherever the hell we are!”

Hannah screamed back at Lorelai, “Oh, how easily you forget that Michael is the only reason that fucking arrow in your arm didn’t kill you! I probably would have just let your dumb ass die! What the fuck good are you? What have you done that helped anyone else?”

“Yeah, and I’m surprised you didn’t take that arrow and carve yourself another fucking Picasso on your body, Goth slut! Who the fuck do you think you are? You think I have to listen to you just because you know what Mack tastes like?” Lorelai was just letting the words fly, not caring what came out of her mouth.

“You listen to me you fucking cunt! Why did we even bring you? How the hell can someone like Reverend be dead and you’re still alive? How is that right? Fuck you! Leave Michael alone! Just start walking! Start walking somewhere and fucking die! See how long you last without Michael to protect your ass!”

No one had noticed that Mack got up and listened in on most of the conversation. He stood there and took in every word, realizing what kind of leader they thought he was. He agreed with them, every word. He had led them out here in the middle of a world that had already taken everyone like them. He had failed to deliver them a home. All he had brought them was more pain, more nightmares, more doubt, more fear.

Mack finally spoke. “We have to go. This place isn’t safe. I apologize for delaying us. We’re too close to Glenwood Springs. We should get further away before stopping for the night.” His voice was slow, robotic, as though his words were programmed.

Gwen began to cry upon seeing Mack. His face was a terrible thing to see. It was pale and without feeling. The face of a young man who knew he was going to die.

“Mack, it’s still early afternoon. We shouldn’t stop for the night right now.” Gwen said, trying to force her words out through her sobs.

“I don’t have it in me to drive anymore. I want to stop. I want to lie down and do nothing. We’ll get closer to Denver tomorrow.” Mack climbed into the RV and fell down on the bed. When the girls got in, he said, “Hannah, please drive. Get us out of here. Use your own judgment as to where to stop.”

Mack didn’t fall asleep. He just lay there for the next twenty minutes until Hannah found a section of I-70 that lacked bodies, wrecked cars, and walking corpses.

Mack was still alive, but this world, this hell, had still managed to claim another young victim.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:22 am

It was still the afternoon when Mack fell asleep, a deep, long sleep without dreams, not that they would have affected him if he’d had any. His heart was wrapped around Hannah, but not anyone else. He only cared for her now, and he still wanted to find a place where they could be together. Increasingly he wanted to find someplace where they could also be alone. She still had faith in him, even though Mack was finding that faith terribly misplaced.

Mack woke up on a lonely stretch of I-70 sometimes before dawn. He got up and saw Hannah in the passenger seat, keeping watch. The others were asleep.

He got up and walked in robotic fashion to her. He kissed her on the cheek before she even knew he was awake.

“Michael, are you all right?”

“I don’t know anymore, Hannah. I don’t know.”

“Will you sit with me?”

Mack sat down in the driver’s seat. “It’s over isn’t it? It’s all come undone and there isn’t shit I can do about it. I can’t pull a two-story four bedroom out of my asshole. We won’t last. We won’t last another day. Everyone’s ready to give up.”

“Not me, Michael. I meant what I said earlier. I’ll go all over the world with you in this thing. I’m in it for you. No one else.”

Such was the manner of their talk when Mack took his leave, showering and putting on fresh clothes. He ate, since he had missed dinner the night before. Hannah was still on watch when Mack sat back down in the driver’s seat. It was slowly becoming dawn.

“What are we going to do, Michael? I know you’re sick of being asked that, but I don’t know what to do.”

“Me neither. I don’t know what’s going to get us out of this. But I know where we’re going.”

As the sun came up, Mack cranked the engine and started heading east again. Hannah, though surprised, said nothing. Kris and Gwen, right above their heads, didn’t stir. Lorelai, on the couch, did.”

“What the hell? Why are we leaving now? The sun’s barely up.”

Mack’s voice was still in that frightful monotone. “Then go back to sleep.”

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“Oh, probably to another place out here in Bum Fuck.”

Lorelai seemed impatient, which was not a good thing to be at the moment. “You still planning on making a big circle around Denver? You think that’s going to solve anything?”

Mack didn’t look back at her when he took the road atlas and flung it back, causing Lorelai to instinctively attempt to catch it, wincing with pain as she unconsciously tried to use her wounded arm.

“Flip to the page with Colorado on it. If you can find a better place to go, tell me. I’d love to hear it. Oh, and when Gwen wakes up, have her change your bandage. I’d do it myself, but I don’t really want to look at you right now. I think we shouldn’t speak for a while.”

Three hours passed, making it just before nine, and Lorelai was asleep again on the couch. Kris got up, but didn’t say anything. He just brewed the morning coffee and sat down at the table. Gwen was awake a little after that. No one asked where they were. Mack and Hannah were talking, however, but no one else was invited to participate. It was all about them now. No one else’s opinion mattered to Mack.

“Where is the next exit, Hannah?” Mack asked.

“Looks like Golden is going to be on our left soon, and I think Lakewood is after that.”

“Fair enough, we’ll head to Golden.”

“Why there?”

“We’re looking for the promised land, Hannah. Golden sounds like the kind of place to find that. You know, end of the rainbow?”

It was now past ten as Mack took the exit and headed towards Golden. A few more miles and they would have ended up right in the Denver Metro Area, and he wasn’t going in there for anything. Hannah brought Mack some coffee and he sipped it thankfully. He kept looking at her, smiling when she caught him doing it. She was at his side, in every way she could be. He would get her home. He would, no matter what.

Golden was a nice, if fairly large mountain town. They headed down the streets that kept them on the outskirts, since the place was large enough to contain a lot of dead, but they didn’t see any. They saw some bodies, but they were on the ground. None were moving. That was as much luck as Mack could really hope for anymore. They stayed on the outskirts until Mack had to turn into the hills north of the town when a wreck, an armored car and a tow truck this time, blocked the road completely. He didn’t care where this road went. It was as good as any other. Now the road atlas was useless. It didn’t concern itself with smaller roads. For the most part, the town of Golden was to their left down the hill while trees were to their right. They saw no place to stop quite yet. The town appeared quiet, but nothing out there offered a place to be. They had all the supplies the RV could reasonably carry. There was no stopping for a while unless it might be for good. At least Mack could enjoy being alone with Hannah, which he was, for all practical purposes. No one else was making a sound. No one wanted anyone to stop the RV and start smacking people around. What Hannah did to Kris was still a fresh memory, and what Mack did to Colin more than once was a particularly vivid one.

They had almost cleared the eastern edge of the town and prepared to head north away from it, possibly towards Westminster or Boulder when Hannah yelled at Mack to stop. This he did, but there was nothing around to indicate what she had seen. There was no accident, no horde of shuffling dead, no nothing. There was nothing on this road but them.

“Michael, what’s that?” She was pointing to something on the side of the road. It was a large sign on particleboard, seemingly tied to a stop sign which itself faced a perpendicular road. The sign itself was lettered in black spray paint. An arrow pointed up the street. The word…

…was ‘hope.’
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by trevor3433 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 4:47 am

MOAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:23 am

“Well, there’s something you don’t see everyday,” Hannah said, matter-of-factly.

Mack, in the same tone, replied, “No, no you don’t.”

The others gathered behind the seats to see what they were referencing, and they quickly saw the sign as well. Forgetting the previous day’s harsh words in the curiosity, Gwen asked, “What is that?”

“A sign with the word ‘hope’ on it, and an arrow. What does it look like?” Mack replied, with a touch of sarcasm, that being the only shift in his tone that anyone had heard that day.

“Okay, Hannah, any chance the atlas shows any towns called ‘Hope’ around here?” Mack asked.

“No, nothing like that. Maybe there’s one around here, but it’s just too small a place for this map.”

“Maybe, but what the hell could this mean? That up that road somewhere is some hope? Wow, plenty of food, ammo, clothes, coffee, books and shit, but that sign’s offering the one thing we’re short of.” Mack dryly quipped.

“Well are we going up there?” Lorelai said.

Mack wasn’t amused that she was involving herself. Still, he answered. “Beats the shit out of me. I don’t know what’s up there, and I sure don’t know who put that sign there.”

Hannah guessed, “What if it was for someone specific? Like a group that got separated and someone was trying to help point the way to a meeting place or something?”

“Not a bad guess, but what do they mean ‘hope?’ Hope for what? And end to all this? Bullshit. There’s nothing like that up that road.” Mack responded.

Hannah thought for a second. “Okay Michael, are we going to see if it leads us anywhere?”

“Hannah, you tell me. I’ll let this be your call. You have every right to at least make one important decision on your own. You’ve earned it. Whatever you say we do, we’ll do.” Mack replied.

“Well, it couldn’t hurt. I mean, someone put that there for a reason. We could have a look, and if it just bullshit, we turn back.”

Mack said, “Fair enough. Might as well see what ‘hope’ looks like these days.”

Mack drove them up the road, which wound through some trees but became wider after a time, and turned into a nice country road with trees on both sides but a lot of turnoffs. Every few hundred yards, they saw another sign, black spray paint on particleboard with an arrow. These ones, however, didn’t say ‘hope’ on them. They kept going for about seven or eight miles until there was another turnoff with a ‘hope’ sign and an arrow. Mack followed it to the right which took them about two miles until there was another, this one a simple arrow, guiding them right to a picnic area, the kind with benches, tables, and charcoal grills. Mack parked and got out, not asking anyone else to come with him. He knew Hannah would right away, but he didn’t care at the moment if anyone else did.

The place was deserted. The gravel cracked under Mack’s boots as he looked around, but he saw nothing. No dead, no living, no cars, no nothing.

“This is fucked up. Why would anyone drive for miles around this place to set up a bunch of signs to lead us to this place? There’s nothing here.” Mack wondered aloud.

“Who knows? But whatever was supposed to be here isn’t here now. Let’s go. Let’s head back down and head for Boulder.” Hannah said.

They turned to head back to the RV, where the other three had not exited, but Mack took a last look over his shoulder and saw something that seemed out of place. It was another sign, this one smaller.

“Hannah, look at that.”

She saw where he was pointing, and after getting closer, it was another ‘arrow’ sign, leaning up against a stone picnic table. The arrow seemed to be pointing under the table and Mack reached under it, finding a green ammunition can, a larger one than what they had in the RV.

“Well, this shit’s getting weirder and weirder.” Mack said.

“What’s in it?” Hannah asked him.

Mack opened the can and removed a plastic Ziploc bag with what appeared to be a walkie-talkie inside, with a pack of 9-volt batteries. Also was a slip of paper with the number ‘23’ on it.

Hannah saw all this and said, “Ok, now what the fuck? What’s all this for?”

“Beats the shit out of me. All those signs on the road, and this is what we find? Who the hell would leave this here?” Mack said.

Mack opened the bag and the battery pack, putting a battery in the radio, which turned out to be a CB. He turned it on and turned the channel to ’23.’

“Hannah, you…should I uh…”

“Go ahead, Michael. See if the president’s on the other end of the line. If not, see if you can order a pizza on that thing. Pepperoni and extra cheese, oh, and get the stuffed crust.”

“Smartass.”

Mack keyed the button, saying “Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear me? Anyone out there?” He waited about a minute for a response, but none came. “See? Bullshit. Total bullshit. Who the hell was this thing for? Doesn’t matter. Whoever put this here is probably dead anyway. Let’s…”

“Hello? Are you still there?” The voice came from the radio.

For a few seconds, Mack and Hannah stared wide-eyed at each other. A male voice was on the other end.

Mack responded finally. “Yes, who is this? Where are you?”

“You first, pal.”

“I’m…I’m just a guy, I guess. No one special. I followed your signs. They led me to this place. We’re…I don’t know what to say.”

The voice said, “How many?”

Mack asked Hannah, “Should we tell him? What if he’s a rapist or a cannibal or something? What if he’s a Jehovah’s Witness and he wants to show us how to get closer to Jesus or some shit?”

“Michael, I don’t think it matters anymore. Whoever’s on that thing is alive, and I want to see where he’s calling from. We’re packing, so if shit goes down, we’ll try to handle it. We don’t have anything to lose. Not anymore.”

“Okay, but I’m not comfortable with this.” Mack pushed the button. “Five of us.”

“You still at the park?” the voice said.

“Yeah. Where are you?”

“On the way. Don’t worry when you see us. We’re cool. We’ve been hoping that someone would follow the signs. Stay put and we’ll come to you.”

Mack was increasingly nervous, not knowing who this was and what they wanted. “Okay, we’ll be waiting, but hurry up. We don’t know what’s out here.”

“Unless something has dramatically changed lately, probably none. Keep your eyes open. We’ll be there in a few.” The radio went silent. Mack and Hannah looked over their shoulders to see the others, standing outside the RV. The looks on their faces were a twist of hope mixed with apprehension. Mack and Hannah could claim the same about themselves.

The next few minutes, however, did not find them idle. Mack insisted they all go inside and arm themselves. They were back outside in a couple of minutes, packing pistols and carrying rifles and such. They all knew, however, if someone who knew what they were doing, came up that road, they wouldn’t stand a chance. Would it be military who tried to hold out somewhere and gather what survivors they could? Rapists and looters looking for easy victims? Some cult hoping to get more passengers to the mother ship off this rock?

A few minutes later, their question was at least partially answered. A pickup came down the road from the direction they had been heading. As it got closer, it turned out to be an older Ford F-150 with two people inside and no one riding in the bed.

Gwen asked, “Uh guys? What if they’re not here to help?”

“A little late for that, Gwen,” Mack said back. “You know how to shoot, and if shit happens, fucking do it. You aren’t carrying that .22 rifle as an accessory, you know.”

The truck pulled into the picnic area and came to a stop a few yards from Mack, who was closest to it. The doors opened and two people got out.

None of them had any idea what to expect when the truck arrived. They sure didn’t expect this.
Last edited by Ponyboy314 on Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:09 am

Again, Mack and the others didn’t know who would be coming down the road, but it wasn’t what they could have predicted. It wasn’t a deuce and a half truck loaded with marines, or a truck with a couple of rednecks with a bed full of severed zombie heads. Nor was it a robed cult carrying wooden crosses or anything like that. If anything, the two people who got out looked normal.

The man who got out from the driver’s side was a young man, though noticeably older than any of them. He wore sunglasses, his brown hair was short and neatly combed, and his mustache and goatee were sharp and neatly trimmed (the kind Mack had tried and failed to grow). He wore black BDU pants, which tucked into black combat boots, and wore a gray short-sleeved collared shit. He also had a police-style gun belt on, on which he wore a revolver, a larger one than Mack had. In his hands was a short lever-action shotgun. He had a bandolier of shot shells across his chest. But still, he was smiling. It was a warm, kind smile that surprised Mack. This young man looked friendly and welcoming. He had clearly come ready for a fight, but without the desire to instigate one.

The stranger said, “So, which one of you was I just talking to?”

Mack took a nervous half-step forward. “That would be me.”

“You said five. So I guess this is everyone? There’s no one in that RV aiming a rifle at me, is there?”

“No, just us. Sorry if our guns are making you nervous or anything. We didn’t know who was coming.”

“I get that. We didn’t bring ours for nothing, you know. So, if I was talking to you, I have to imagine that you’re in charge of this gang.”

“I guess I am.”

The stranger smiled broader. “So, what’s your name, friend?”

“Mack. That’s what most call me. Michael Burrows, actually, but just call me Mack.”

“And them?” he said, pointing at Mack’s friends.

Mack took Hannah’s hand and led her up to the stranger. “This is Hannah Campbell, my girlfriend. Behind me, that’s Kris Polakowski, and the blonde girl is his girlfriend Gwen DeLancie. The brunette is Lorelai Sigurdson. We’re…the last of The Twelve.”

The man asked, “The Twelve?”

“That what I started calling us, friend. There were a dozen of us when all this started. The others…well, that’s for another time, I’m afraid.”

As they got within handshaking range, the man almost recoiled. “I’ll be damned, look at this! They’re just kids!”

Mack looked down, as though in shame. “I guess we are. Or at least we used to be.”

The man took his sunglasses off, tucking them in his shirt pocket. His eyes were brown and friendly. He offered his hand. “Well good to meet you, Mack.” He then took Hannah’s hand and kissed her knuckles. “And you Hannah. Welcome. I can’t believe you found this place.”

“Well friend, you have us at a loss. You know our names…” Mack said.

“Oh sorry, excuse my manners. I’m Will. Will Beecher, and this is my girlfriend Alyssa Stone.” The young woman who exited the passenger side of the truck came forward. She was wearing jeans and high top sneakers, a back tank top shirt under a pink collared shirt that flapped open. She had a Beretta in her belt and an M1 Carbine in her hands. She saw that Hannah was carrying the same thing, causing her to nod in amusement.

The woman took her sunglasses off and Mack was amazed to see that she was stunning in appearance. She had hair that seemed halfway between red and dark brown and blue-green eyes. Her own smiles was as warm as Will’s. Without warning, she shook Hannah’s hand, but then walked up to Mack and kissed him on the forehead, forcing her to stand up straighter as she was a few inches shorter than him. She, like Will, appeared to be college age, or maybe a shade over.

“I’m so glad you made it. I’m glad you got here. We’re…happy to meet you. You’re the first to ever call on that thing. We only set it all up a couple of weeks ago.”

Mack kissed her hand as Will had done to Hannah, hoping to make an impression. The others came forwards and repeated Mack’s introductions. Will and Alyssa couldn’t take their eyes off of them.

Will said, “Sorry to say it like this, but you guys are a bunch of kids. Hell, any of you allowed to vote?”

Hannah said, “I’m eighteen, and I’m the oldest.”

Alyssa spoke up. “Were you in high school or something?”

Mack replied, “Yeah, we went to high school together. We all knew each other on some level before all this, but we stuck together and made a go of it when the shit hit the fan, and well, here we are.”

“So, what? You got out of Denver? Boulder?” Will asked.

“A little farther away than that.” Mack replied.

“Colorado Springs? Grand Junction? How far did you come before you found this place?” Will inquired.

Hannah answered this time. “Phoenix.”

Will’s face turned white. “Phoenix? As in Arizona?”

“That’s the one,” Hannah replied.

“Holy shit, you came all the way from Phoenix? If I may ask, how the hell did you get all the way the hell out here?” Will asked.

Mack said, “That Will…is a long story, a really long story.”

“And I’m sure I’ll hear it. I’d like to know how anyone could make it this far, especially a bunch of kids in an RV. Jesus, we didn’t know who was calling, but a bunch of teenagers? Holy shit, this is…just wow.” Will stammered.

Mack asked, “Will? Where are all of them? Why did you tell us that there weren’t any out here?”

“We haven’t seen any in a few months now. They used to be all over the place. When the refugees started heading west, those dead freaks just seemed to follow them. We saw fewer and fewer, but after a while, we stopped seeing them completely. The last time we went out, Alyssa and me, we had to go forty-five miles before seeing one, and that one was alone.”

Hannah was now curious. “Just the two of you?”

“Nope. Six of us. Our friends are at home waiting for us. We were all seniors at the University of Colorado in Boulder. We stuck together, kind of like you guys, I guess. We got out of there after a while, out of our dorms and came to our new home.”

“Where is that?” Mack asked, his eyes going wide.

“Up that road a ways. Can I have that?” Will took the CB and keyed the button. “Chris? Can you hear me?”

“Loud and clear, Will. What’s going on down there?”

“Just like they said. Five of them, a bunch of high school kids. Hell, one of them is named ‘Kris’ too. They came all the way from Phoenix, can you believe that?”

The voice of the other ‘Kris’ came back. “Goddamn. A bunch of kids made it all the way across the Southwest? All the way here?”

“That’s just what I said, bro!”

“How long till you come back?”

“We’re heading back now, dude. Back in about five. Be by the gate, huh?”

“See you then, Will.”

Mack asked, “Will? Can I ask how you’ve stayed alive this long? You guys look well-fed, healthy, clean…”

“So do all of you, Mack.”

“Yeah, but…”

“Mack, you want to know where we live, don’t you? You really want to see where we’ve been holding out this whole time, right?”

“Actually Will, that’s exactly it. We’ve been on the road, looking for a place where we can stop running, you know? I’m…we’re not the imposing types, but…”

“Don’t worry, Mack. All your questions will be answered soon enough. So, get in your ride. We’re going back now, so follow us.” Will said cheerfully.

Both vehicles rumbled up the road, as all five of the gang engaged in all manner of excited chatter about this unexpected development. Mack was ecstatic. The sign that led them here said the word ‘hope.’

Mack only heard one word in his head now.

‘Home.’
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:50 am

It was a five minute drive to their apparent destination, and Mack and the others were utterly speechless went they saw a wall of old fashioned brick extending both directions for what seemed like miles. The gate was covered in plywood and there was no seeing through it. After a few seconds, during which they could see Alyssa on the radio, the gate swung open as if by magic. They followed the truck inside and everyone was still speechless upon seeing the houses inside the place. They were mansions, so large that Ted Turner would have damned near needed a co-signer to live here. Each was surrounded by high walls that made Darren Krieger’s own wall look like a low stack of railroad ties. The houses were huge and Mack could not even guess their value. He had only seen such places on ‘MTV Cribs’ or the movies. He had never laid eyes on places like this in his life.

They noticed another sound looked out to see another young man, who they presumed to be ‘Chris,’ riding next to them on a dirt bike. He noticed them looking at him and put his index and little finger in the air in the ‘heavy metal’ sign, with a big smile on his face. They waved back. This was unreal in the extreme. Mack could barely keep the RV straight. He was on the verge of bursting out in tears. This was beyond his imagination, and after the last few months, his imagination had matured a great deal.

They pulled up to the gate of one of the great mansions and the man on the dirt bike led them inside after the gate swung open. The parking area in front of the house was almost packed with vehicles. There were U-Hauls and vans, personal cars and golf carts, motorcycles and scooters. The dirt bike and truck parked and Mack followed suit. Unable to contain their emotions anymore, they all cried, but the good kind this time, the kind that they had hoped for. They kind they had given up on ever having.

Will opened the side door like a valet parker. “Come on now. While you’re here, for the love of God, don’t worry about anything. Nothing out there will ever get you in here. This is probably as safe a place in the world as a bunch of punks like us could beg for. That’s why we chose it.”

They all got out, and Will, along with Chris and Alyssa, didn’t make a single remark about the tears pouring down the gang’s faces. They left their bags behind as well as their rifles and shotguns. They kept their pistols on, though. The one on the dirt bike came up to them.

“Good to meet you all. Chris, Chris Parisi. Welcome to Malta Mansion.”

Hannah said, “Malta Mansion?”

Mack took a shot at the meaning. “Little rock in the Mediterranean. A long time ago a couple of thousand Christian knights and mercenaries held out against like a couple of hundred thousand turks and won.”

Will cocked an eyebrow at Mack. “History freak, huh?”

“Sort of, I guess.” He said back.

“Well that’s why I named it that. Not that it means much anymore. We’re hardly under siege here. So, I assure you, you’ll have no need of those guns in here, but I’m guessing you were out there a while, so I can understand why you’d be twitchy without them. Keep them, but you’ll learn soon enough that you’re perfectly safe here.”

Mack and Hannah held shaking hands as did Kris and Gwen, with Lorelai lingering in the rear as they followed Will, Alyssa, and Chris into the front entrance, which itself looked like the front doors of a cathedral. The mansion on the inside was beyond huge. The staircase near the door was opulent by itself, and the rooms, those could be seen at least, were huge and lavishly decorated.

Chris called out. “We’re home! Hey guys, you’re going to love what we found!”

Within a minute, three more people came down the stairs. They lined up for introductions.

One, a large, brawny young black man with a million dollar smile introduced himself, shaking Mack’s hand with such strength that Mack almost felt like he was about to be broken into pieces. “Rashid Kaplan, big, black and bad, at your service.”

Mack said, “Well, the first two are…obvious.”

A pretty black woman shook Mack’s hand next. “Oh Red, that’s what we call him, Red, he’s just playing. There’s isn’t a bad bone in him. Red, stop trying to freak out our new friends here. Anyway, I’m Marleena Shore. Red here of course, still hasn’t learned that it’s rude to not introduce your significant other.”

“Oh come on, Marleena, just messing with the kid. Where I come from, that’s a polite form of greeting.”

That was all Mack needed to hear. He liked Red and Marleena on the spot.

Another pretty young thing, this one with medium length blond hair and a warm, caring expression, walked up to them. Chris came up fast. “This is Chelsea, Chelsea Czerny. She’s my chick.”

Chelsea, who looked almost angelic to the gang, looked over her shoulder at Red. “See Red? At least some guys know that the end of the world is no excuse for not being a gentleman.”

Marleena laughed. “See Chelsea? That’s what I’ve been telling him!”

Red just laughed. Clearly these people were the best of friends and always had been. There was something in the way they spoke that made Mack believe that they had been a close-knit gang long before the dead rose and made them get closer.

Will spoke up again. “So guys, this is our home. We took it over not long after this shit started to head west.”

“The ones that headed west? I think we’ve run into those same ones.” Mack said.

“Really? Oh right, you’re from Phoenix. How is it out there? How was the road getting here?” Alyssa asked.

Hannah answered. “Some places we didn’t see any at all. Others…well…”

Chris interjected. “Yeah, we get it. But don’t worry about that now. Listen, this is a big place, so you might want to come with me. I’ll show you around, let you see where we’ve been this whole time.”

Will stopped him. “No Chris, I’ll take this. I’m hoping that our friend Mack here will let slip a few details about what was probably a hell of a trip.”

Mack and the gang followed Will. Every room caused all five of them to drop their jaws to the floor. After the tour which obviously took a while, Will said, “Oh, and we’re eating at five. That’s a few hours from now, so does that leave you time to get cleaned up?”

They all nodded, still barely able to speak at the vast difference between where they woke up and where they were now.

“Good. Red’s making some kind of gumbo thing. I don’t know what it’s specifically called, but it really knocks it out of the park.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Wrecking Ball » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:27 am

MOAR.
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ronin71XS » Thu Dec 31, 2009 8:43 am

Whoa, The Twelve meets Death of conscience. Rock on ghostrider!!!!
Do, Do Not, there is no try. ~Yoda

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Come To The DarkSide....We have cookies.~~V

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Yeti » Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:32 am

Must have Moar.

Was going to ask why no one grabbed a GPS while in some of the places. Most of the newer ones will take you to the nearest Wal-Mart/Auto Store/etc to find shit.
And most of the newer RV's (especially large ones) have it built in nowadays.
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Re: The Twelve

Post by SlapNuts » Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:49 am

Yeti wrote:Must have Moar.

Was going to ask why no one grabbed a GPS while in some of the places. Most of the newer ones will take you to the nearest Wal-Mart/Auto Store/etc to find shit.
And most of the newer RV's (especially large ones) have it built in nowadays.
Maybe the satellites are down?
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Re: The Twelve

Post by Yeti » Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:58 am

SlapNuts wrote:
Yeti wrote:Must have Moar.

Was going to ask why no one grabbed a GPS while in some of the places. Most of the newer ones will take you to the nearest Wal-Mart/Auto Store/etc to find shit.
And most of the newer RV's (especially large ones) have it built in nowadays.
Maybe the satellites are down?
It's only been what, 6 months? Doubt there down, most have a decade or more of life left in them easily. They would become more inaccurate over time as no one corrects thier courses, but I would think they would still be usable for the first year pretty easily.
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Re: The Twelve

Post by Wrecking Ball » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:23 pm

Yeti wrote:
SlapNuts wrote:
Yeti wrote:Must have Moar.

Was going to ask why no one grabbed a GPS while in some of the places. Most of the newer ones will take you to the nearest Wal-Mart/Auto Store/etc to find shit.
And most of the newer RV's (especially large ones) have it built in nowadays.
Maybe the satellites are down?
It's only been what, 6 months? Doubt there down, most have a decade or more of life left in them easily. They would become more inaccurate over time as no one corrects thier courses, but I would think they would still be usable for the first year pretty easily.
But with no one left to change the roads and whatnot, doesn't that mean that they would stay accurate?
Finch wrote:i sometimes hope zombies come so i dont have to go to work
Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Twelve

Post by Ponyboy314 » Thu Dec 31, 2009 6:58 pm

You guys pick some weird shit to banter about in this thread.

The story is not yet over. Keep it here.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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