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Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 5:50 pm
by Bearcat
Oh fuck yes! Finally some action! :twisted:

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 6:30 pm
by Wrecking Ball
You choose to leave me wanting MOAR at the worst possible moments. :(

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 7:48 pm
by Ponyboy314
“You live your life, you go in shadows
You'll come apart and you'll go black,
Some kind of night into your darkness,
Colors your eyes with what's not there,
Fade into you, strange you never knew…”

from Fade into You by Mazzy Star

The other cars began to park behind or alongside of Ryan’s truck, giving their convoy the appearance of the Indy 500 seconds before the open gun, which was appropriate, since racing away was on everyone’s mind at that second.

Ike got out with his own M16 in his hands, screaming at the Doc to stay where he was. “Doctor? Stay inside! I know you can’t understand a fucking thing I’m saying but stay in the car, okay?”

Doctor Dietrich yelled back, “Okay, I’ll stay inside the goddamned car! Will that make you happy? Jesus Christ, Ike! I’m a fucking adult you know!”

Ike ran up to Ryan and Daphne as they moved with sweaty brows towards Boyd and Tara’s car, still on its wheels, but not moving as those things began to close in from behind.

“Guys, I think the Doc just spoke English to me!”

“Never mind that shit! Come on! We’ve got to get them the fuck out of there!” Ryan bellowed.

Manny and Yolanda screeched to a halt beside the truck with Daphne yelling, “You guys stay in there! Look after Michelle!”

Manny was halfway out when he yelled back, “Fuck that! I’m not a goddamned coward! I’m coming!”

Ryan put a stop to that sort of thinking. “Bullshit you are! Stay with Michelle! She’s lost enough parents as it is!”

Manny, looking almost emasculated, stopped where he was, cradling a four-foot titanium crowbar in his shaking hands. Ryan was right. She had lost her parents but had found new ones who loved her as much as the old, and he had lost a child. He wasn’t losing Michelle as well.

They moved quickly, seeing Boyd out of his car, seemingly unharmed, swinging a large wrench with the fury of a Viking after taking several hits of crack. With one great swing, he destroyed the head of a walking corpse so utterly that he removed at least six or seven inches of height from it. It collapsed at his feet, and within a few seconds, so did three others.

Tara was also trying to get out of the car, but nearby were perhaps seven or eight of the dead, all too eager to help her.

Boyd dodged an attempt from a nearby corpse to grab him as he flew over the hood with the agility of a paratrooper. He kicked one of them away and smashed one in the face with his wrench. It went flying and landed with a thump. It twitched but did not get up again. By the time Boyd turned around, Tara was screaming.

“Boyd! Help me! Fucking help me!” A few of them had reached her and were busy pulling her to the ground. It was not but one second later that they all heard the sound of chewing. Her screams grew so loud that they echoed all across the box canyon. It was almost as though the angel of death was orgasming all over the world.

Boyd screamed himself in almost a berserker range. He once again raised his wrench and smashed head after head, never missing or needing to strike twice. Several more came up behind them, but several cracks echoed through the air, and some of them fell to the ground with large holes in their heads. From behind them, Aaron perched on top of his SUV, shot one right through the eye. Winter had not diminished his aim.

From behind, many of the dead that they had passed in Telluride were now lumbering after them, drawn by the gunshots and the screams. They closed as Aaron began dropping them and reloading as quickly as he could, but he started to hit torsos instead of heads, and Kristin was outside, hands shaking as she held her snub-nosed revolver. She wanted to go. They all just wanted to get away from the mouth of hell that had opened up right underneath them all.

Several more began closing in on Boyd, whose face was twisted from the horror of what was happening to Tara. Ryan, trying to get him back on track, yelled, “Boyd! Catch this!” Ryan threw him his shotgun, which Boyd promptly used to blow a nearby corpse’s head to red pulp. “Come on, Boyd! Get in the truck! You can’t help her!”

“The fuck I can’t!” He yelled back. He racked the shotgun and aimed it downwards. He squeezed and Tara’s screaming stopped as though the cord had been yanked from the outlet.

“Boyd! Come on! We’ve got to go!” Everyone ran back, Boyd jumping into the bed of the truck with the dead only a few paces behind. Ryan got back behind the wheel and screamed, “Let’s go! We’re fucking going now!”

They sped away, leaving behind one car and a twenty-something woman without a head or a large portion of her arms. Such was the cost of passage through Telluride. Such was their first day of travel through this world.

After a few miles, as they passed more wrecked cars heading away from town, Ryan stopped in the middle of the road and got out, packing his pipe once again and lighting it, puffing like a madman. Boyd had thrown away his blood-stained flannel shirt and put on another, and everyone else stopped behind and slowly began to step back into the world, the same world that had just consumed Tara only a few feet away from Boyd.

The road was tree-lined and nothing man-made was near. No moans could be heard, nor could any footsteps. The visibility was still good here and Ryan, out of emotional energy said, “We’re stopping here tonight. It’s already the afternoon.”

Yolanda, still clearly freaked from that latest horror, yelled at him, “You want to stop here? In this place?”

“Yolanda, find me a better place or shut your mouth.”

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:17 pm
by Wrecking Ball
I knew Tara would be the one to go. She will sort of be missed? :cry:

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:34 pm
by Ponyboy314
"You can see the summit, but you can't reach it,
Last piece of the puzzle but you just can't make it fit,
Doctor says you're cured, but you still feel the pain,
Aspirations in the clouds but your hopes are down the drain..."

from No one is to Blame by Howard Jones

That was a seriously quiet afternoon, as no one could busy themselves with naps, books, or anything else that helped them shake off what had just happened. To those from Ike’s group, it was more of what had happened to them the previous summer, and what they had hoped was behind them after they had settled into the camp. To Ryan and his people, it was a new kind of nightmare. It was beyond their experience, and whatever they might have been showing on the outside, it made the four of them sick to their stomachs.

Not much energy had been expended before reaching Telluride, but now, everyone was utterly spent. They didn’t speak much or move around, they mostly just sat, either in their cars or on the side of the road, allowing the death of Tara to infest their minds and hearts. Aaron though, sat on top of his SUV with a shell-shocked Kristin inside. He sat with his rifle in his lap, looking with eyes bright with fear back the way they had come, believing that any second, a horde hundreds strong was going to come lumbering down that road looking to finish what they had started with Tara Nellis. Actually, they had continued it with her. In Aaron’s mind, they had started with Sean Plainwater. One thing one certain to him, and that was they would not finish with Kristin. Aaron had not told her and would not do so, but if things had left him with no choice, he would speed Kristin on her way before their teeth ever touched her. She would never even know that Aaron would take those teeth upon himself to spare her from them. She might never have guessed that Aaron, who was still a couple of weeks from turning eighteen, would do such a thing for her sake. But then, girls her age tend to underestimate the regard their guys have for them.

Michelle, who had always in her own way been about as tough as the adults, was crying in the back of Manny and Yolanda’s car, and Yolanda was crying right along with her, while Manny sat behind the wheel staring off into the world with eyes that had seen too much. Doctor Dietrich, on the other hand, kept trying to tell Ike (in German) that he couldn’t understand a word he was saying. Ryan, on the other hand, was looking ahead rather than behind like Aaron. He looked up that road, knowing that it would lead them to Silverton and around the plane wreckage that had sealed off Ouray from road access. But it wasn’t hard to guess what else would be up that road. What the hell was the point of leading them to Silverton? Just because it was another shit rest stop on the way across the New Mexico state line? And what good what it do anyone who give up mountains and forests for deserts? How was it different anywhere else? And who cared anyway? Just driving around the place for months, living off whatever they happened to come across, until miraculously finding another place to spend a winter until it all began again? Was this it? Was this the new life? Was this what they had been reduced to?

If this was life, what they hell was worth fighting for? What was the point of fighting to stay alive if they weren’t even really alive anymore? Living and surviving are, at least in human terms, two different things, and the age of living was over. The age of surviving had dawned, and survival itself did not seem like a reason to keep going.

The group, what remained of it, was no different than the dead they had barely escaped that day. When the sun went down, everyone was inside their cars, and those behind the wheel, even as they slept, were ready at a split second’s notice to crank the engine and gun themselves a few more miles down the road. Those that were sleeping were plagued by nightmares as it was. Ryan took the first shift as they slept, sitting on top of the cab of his truck scanning the area with his flashlight, only leaving it on for a few seconds at a time, lest the beam of light draw something towards them. Fortunately, the moon was full this night, otherwise, he might have prodded everyone to go further, even in the dark, until they could get somewhere safer, if such a place still existed. Tonight, it was as much Ryan’s ears that would protect them as his eyes.

Ryan did hear a car door open and close, done by someone trying to keep quiet, coming from the car where Ike and the Doc were asleep. He could easily see in the moonlight that it was Boyd, who walked over to the truck after looking around. His hands were strangely empty. His wrench was not with him.

“Hey Ryan, can I join you?”

“Yeah Boyd, come on up.”

Boyd climbed into the truck bed and sat on the edge. “Ryan, I have a few things to say, and I don’t have a whole lot of time.”

“Why’s that Boyd? You have an appointment or something?”

“In a manner of speaking, yes.” Boyd rolled up his sleeve. Around his left arm was what appeared to be a sock with a small red stain on it. “They got me, Ryan. They got me when I tried to help Tara. I couldn’t save her, and now I can’t even save myself. It was too many hours ago. I can’t stay here. It’s not going to be long before it takes me. I have to say this and get away.”

“Boyd…oh my fucking god, Boyd…I’m…”

“Let me say what I came to say, Ryan. I’m not going to wake the others and tell them this. I only think you should know. The others…they probably won’t be able to handle it, losing two of us in one day. I have to go, so at least it’ll be too late when they find out.”


“Ryan, let me speak. I can feel it working its way through me. It won’t be long now. I don’t have a lot of time.”

“I’m sorry.”

“First off, thank you Ryan. Thanks for everything. I thought we were all dead before you found us last September. Thanks for taking us with you. Thanks for giving me a reason to keep going. Thanks for letting me use my hands to do some good once we got to that old camp. Thanks for everything.”

“I’m sorry Boyd. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry I couldn’t save Tara or Mitch, Nicole, Sean…I couldn’t save them.”

“You saved the rest of us, and that’s better than anyone probably ever did. But I made my choice when I tried to help Tara. This was my doing, not yours. You’ve had a hell of a burden this whole time, Ryan, and I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry it all got put on you. But you did good man, you did good. But I just wanted to say thank you. Thanks for never giving up on this group. I have to go. I have to go someplace and end it. I won’t become one of those things. I’ve seen them, up close, you know? I don’t want to be like that. I’m going to do myself before it happens. But I can’t swing a wrench at my own head hard enough to do what I have to, you know?”

“Boyd,” Ryan was almost sobbing. “What can I do?”

“I know this is a lot to ask for, Ryan. But, can I take that Bowie knife? The one on your belt? I don’t want to waste a gun or a bullet, and that thing will…will make it easier. I know what to do with that.”

Ryan slowly drew his knife and handed it over, his hand shaking and his eyes dripping tears. “I guess, I guess you finally got it, huh? You always wanted one of these.”

“Yeah, and thanks. I finally got this kick-ass knife. This will…this will help me make it quick. But…I’m going now.” Boyd offered his hand and Ryan shook it before Boyd simply wrapped him in a bear hug. “You take care of yourself, okay Ryan? You just take care of yourself and the others.” He jumped down from the truck. “I don’t believe in another side to all this, but if I get there, I’ll tell the others you said hi.”

“You do that Boyd. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything.”

“Don’t be, Ryan.” Boyd seemed to look off to the full moon and sigh, allowing a warm smile to cross his lips. “Hell Ryan, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I got to use my hands to do what they were meant to do. No, I wouldn’t have missed it. Take care, man. Take care.”

Boyd turned to walk back the way they had come, back towards Telluride, even though Ryan knew that the moment he got to where they would not see him, Boyd would not take another step.

“Good bye, Boyd. You were a hell of a good guy. A hell of a good guy.”

Boyd threw a last look over his shoulder, the moonlight perfectly catching his eyes, which had begun to water themselves. “You were the best man I’ve ever known Ryan.” Boyd gave a wink. “Best fucking man I’ve ever known.”

Boyd walked off down the road in the moonlight, almost poetically, until he rounded the curve and was gone.

And Boyd Ragsdale walked out of their lives forever.

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 9:39 pm
by dmaxd03
I don't know, I am kind of sad at her loss. I mean, no closure.... would she lose it being slapped so many times or would she come around. Would someone fall for her.... attributes? And why get out of the car on the side with no backup? Anyhoo, great story though I am embarrassed at the number of times I refresh

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 10:46 pm
by Ponyboy314
“Slow change may pull us apart,
When the light gets into your heart, baby,
Don't you forget about me,
Don't don't don't don't,
Don't you forget about me…”

from Don’t you (Forget about Me?) by Simple Minds

Ryan was supposed to wake up Ike sometime around one in the morning for his shift guarding the group, and he had very much been looking forward to getting back in the truck and falling asleep with his head on Daphne’s shoulder, but Boyd had changed that. If Ike had woken up at all, he would have wondered where Boyd had gone, and Ryan was in no mood to try to explain such a thing in the middle of the night. Morning would have to come before he would be able to speak on it. That meant keeping guard until morning. It also meant that Daphne would probably be doing the driving for a while.

Ryan watched as the sun came up with red eyes hovering above dark circles. The sun climbed over a landscape that was peaceful and picturesque, but hid the fact that a few miles back, Tara had been reduced to a skeleton, or nearly so, by a pack of ravenous walking dead bodies, and Boyd was dead somewhere back there as well, moving on with the class and character that Sean had utterly lacked when his time had come. Ryan had seen plenty of people die, but somehow he believed that the loss of Boyd would be the hardest to accept, if only because it meant the passing of someone who had truly earned their right to survive this mess.

It was not until around eight in the morning that someone woke up. Kristin got out and, after waving at Ryan, went behind the bushes with her revolver in her hand. She came back out and brushed her teeth and hair. She did not wake the others and stopped by Ryan’s truck.

“Yesterday was…pretty bad, wasn’t it Ryan?”

“You might say that. It was…that was some shit that’s going to keep us all in nightmares for a while.”

“I can’t say I liked Tara, but no one deserves to die like that. She was a bitch, but she didn’t do anything to bring that on herself. I still hear her screaming. Can you believe that? Somewhere in my head, I can still hear it.”

“Kristin, there’s something you need to know.”

Kristin, as Ryan had asked her, sat down and did not wake the others to tell them. Despite the restraint it required from her, she allowed them all to sleep a little more and cried for Boyd in her own fashion. Kristin had gone through her share of bullshit with Tara, but never with Boyd. She liked him, hell, she loved him, as did just about everyone else. Kristin sobbed off-and-on while Ryan put his arm around her and tried to offer what comfort he could, but with so much death surrounding them, it was a comfort of the cold variety.

Ike was the next to wake up. He pissed on the roadside and brushed his own teeth, and then came up to where he saw Ryan and Kristin sitting. “Hey Ryan. What about my shift? Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“Ike, I’ve got bad news.”

Over the next hour, everyone else was waking up, and in turn, all of them were told of the fate of Boyd Ragsdale. Ryan had waited until they were all awake before telling them the parts that would always matter the most to him.

“Just so you all know, Boyd…Boyd knew what was happening to him. He knew he didn’t have long, and that guy faced it was…hell, he had heart. He went with a lot of class. He was a good guy, and we all owe it to him to miss him.”

Michelle took the news better than anyone else, which surprised no one. “So Uncle Boyd went away. Is he waiting for us with Mitch and Nicole?”

“Yes, yes he is, Michelle.” Manny said. “Everyone we’ve lost, they’re all out there, waiting for us. In time, we’ll all be together again. Your folks, our boy, all our friends…sooner or later, we’ll all be together.”

“But we don’t want that to happen right now, do we?” Michelle asked. Most of the group, Ryan included, felt tears running down their cheeks as this little girl showed how tough she was without knowing she was doing it. It was all a reminder that being an adult doesn’t make one stronger, just better at acting like it, and some couldn’t even claim that much.

After eating a somber meal of dry cereal and granola (go figure) Ryan had them all get ready to go. No one was speaking much, and Ryan didn’t blame them. Their first day back on the road and Tara had been lost, and that same night, they lost someone that everyone was sure to miss. It was barely twenty-four hours back in this world and the price was already too high.

Ryan got into the passenger seat while Daphne got behind the wheel. “Ryan, are you okay?”

“Boyd…goddamn, talk about someone who had every right to live. He was popular. Everyone’s going to take it hard. I sure as fuck am.”

“So am I, Ryan. But we need to keep going. Whatever happens, we have to keep following the road. That road ahead of us? If we get through this, this road is what’s going to take us there.”

“Spoken like a true biker, Daphne.”

“No, spoken like someone who doesn’t want her man to lose hope.”

“Aaron, you ready back there?”

“I guess. Let’s just get away from this place. Let’s never come back this way.”

“You can be sure of that, little bro. Bet on it.”

Daphne cranked the engine and the caravan headed to where they could pick up south US 550 somewhere past Ouray, to whatever awaited them.

Even if it was beyond the sea.

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:52 pm
by Ponyboy314
“You'd better hope and pray that you make it safe back to your own world,
You'd better hope and pray that you wake one day in your own world,
'Cuz when you sleep at night they don't hear your cries in your own world,
Only time will tell if you can break the spell back in your own world…”

from Stay by Shakepear’s Sister

Ryan slept, but only for a half an our as Daphne stayed on the helm, but that was far more time than he needed for recent developments to lay in wait to trap him in his slumber, and they did.

Many times since meeting Aaron and Kristin, he had dreamt about the sands of Imperial Beach, California, and of watching the sun set while singing a Bobby Darin song with his friends, but now that dream had become corrupted by the demons that dwelt in Ryan’s own heart.

He was back in Imperial Beach all right, which more or less constituted his nighttime refuge from the world, but no longer. This was an Imperial Beach after hell was done with it. The great Pacific before him burned, become an endless sea of fire, and beyond the flames, the moans of the restless dead boomed from the unseen sunset. Behind him, the rest of the world appeared ruined. Buildings were thrown down into rubble and the hills beyond were crushed, as though by the fist of an angry and vengeful god. The sands around him shifted as though alive, taunting him with the knowledge that they could swallow him alive at will.

Down the beach were them, the dead that walked across every corner of the world, perhaps a dozen or so, and many more a distance beyond that. They slowly lumbered towards him, though he did not move nor even try to. He watched the burning of the dead world and stared beyond the fire as the dead came ever closer, eyes bulging from gray and vein-laden faces, arms chewed apart with bones sticking through, and the moans that heralded death wherever they went. Still, Ryan stood with his hands in his pockets. They were coming for him as they had come for everyone else. It was simply his turn, and in his dreaming mind, he could not think of a single reason that he deserved to escape even the worst of fates.

As the horde got closer, Ryan could see their grotesque faces, and all of them were known to him. One was Boyd, gray and decaying yet with a large cut across the throat of the type a Bowie knife might deliver. Then there was Michelle, holding hands with another little girl missing the top half of her head, a little girl in a pink dress. He scanned the horde as it continued to shuffle after him, and towards the back, he finally saw Daphne, rotted almost to the core, her hair long and raven black, save for a strong red streak. She dressed in biker leathers, with gray fingers curling almost into claws through fingerless gloves.

This was not the first time in a dream that one of the living dead spoke.

“Ryan…” it said, as though choking on soggy plants. As the dead love of his life closed in, the sands began to swirl like a flushing toilet, swallowing him alive, taking him to the world below, where the lowest level of hell awaited, the level for those who failed those they swore to protect.

Ryan shot awake as though he was being rocketed into space, struggling as he tried to free himself from the mouth to hell on the beach that screamed for his soul. He struggled but was held fast, but it took a few seconds before his eyes cleared and he realized it was Daphne holding him. She was displaying more strength than she ever had, and despite all his efforts, he could not move.

“Ryan, Ryan! Wake the fuck up! Wake up!”

“Daphne? You alive? Are you still alive?”

“No dumbass. I’m dead and you’re a gay disco dancer. Wake up, Ryan.”

“Jesus Rim-Jobbing Christ. That was…that was one of the most fucked up dreams I’ve ever had. I mean, fuck me, that one was…that one was bad. But here I am, back in a world that isn’t much better. Where are we anyway?”

“A few miles outside of Silverton. This road took us this far. We didn’t have to get back on the highway.”

“How many miles?”

“Four or five, I think.”

Ryan looked around and saw the same basic scenery as where they had woken up. “Why did we stop here?”

“Because you were having a nightmare and thrashing around like a Jerry Lewis palsy case, that’s why. Your arms were going all over the place. You almost clocked me in the face. So I stopped until you got your senses back. By the way…” Daphne took the walkie-talkie from Ryan’s lap. Neither of them had even noticed Aaron yelling at them.

“Aaron, uh…I guess you want to know why we stopped.”

“No shit, Daphne! We all slammed on our brakes like a mother fucker! What the hell is going on up there? You see any of them?”

“No Aaron, chill out. Ryan…Ryan needed some help with something, that’s all. We’re going now.”

“Okay, by the way, everyone back here is fine, thanks for asking.”

They headed out again, with Silverton only a few minutes away, probably with its own share of the walking dead, with names written across their faces in blood, the names of Ryan and his friends.

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:58 am
by Ponyboy314
“And I want to thank you,
For giving me the best day of my life,
And oh, just to be with you,
Is giving me the best day of my life…”

from Thank You by Dido

When the trees began to spread apart before them and the road signs indicated that the town of Silverton was only one mile away, Ryan had them stop. He got out and and talked Daphne out of one of her smokes. He didn’t want to bother packing his pipe. He inhaled and blew the gray smoke in the air above him while Daphne lit her own. After a minute or so, the rest of the group got out and joined them, Michelle riding on Uncle Ike’s shoulders.

“Ryan, why did we stop here?” Kristin asked.

“Because Silverton is a mile up that road. That’s where we’re headed. It was also my bright idea to take us through Telluride, and…well we see where that got us. I don’t know what’s waiting there, but I do know that we intend to head south into New Mexico, the way there runs right through Silverton. The only way is south. North is screwed and back towards Pueblo is worse than Telluride. This is the way we have to do if we want to get out into open country. But I can’t make that decision for you. You’ve all earned the right to be part of this. I say we head south through Silverton and into New Mexico, but I want to know what everyone else thinks. Speak plainly.”

Ike spoke first. “Man, you got us this far. If you say we go through Silverton, that’s where we go.”

Ryan snapped, “I said I want to know your opinion, goddamnit!”

Ike replied, almost sheepishly, “Well then, maybe south wasn’t the route we should have taken.”

Ryan said back, “It probably wasn’t. But you came from the north and the four of us came from the east. We weren’t willing to back through Salida towards Pueblo, and you weren’t willing to go back through Grand Junction. The recent traffic reports didn’t say shit about a Hercules belly-flopping right at the entrance to Ouray, or that Telluride was a hell pit. But maybe there was another way, but I just didn’t know it. But regardless, I’m sorry. I apologize for leading us through that goddamned place, unless it’s too late in this fucking world for such things.”

Yolanda, as always, was in mom-mode. She put her hand gingerly on Ryan’s shoulder and said, “It’s never too late to apologize, as long as you mean it. But you should also reserve your apologies for when you have a reason to be sorry. And please believe me when I say that you don’t owe anyone an apology, not a single one of us. If anything, we should have thanked you more than we did. No matter what anyone could have done, some of us weren’t going to make it. I wish that things were different, but it’s just not that kind of world anymore. But anyway, thank you. Thank you for everything.”

Many chimed in. “She’s right, Ryan. Personally, I don’t have an opinion on where we should have gone. I didn’t have any more information that you did. If bad things didn’t happen to us here, they would somewhere else. And Yolanda’s right about something else. Thank you, Ryan. Thank for looking after us.”

That led to some light claps on the back for Ryan, who forced back tears as he finally realized that someone out there appreciated what he had done. It was all a lot to take it, but somehow, he felt justified in all that he had done so far. They could have hated him for it and somehow, he would have agreed that it was a hatred well-deserved. But they did not hate him. They did not blame him. Deep within themselves, they had found that part of them that understood that Ryan was just a human being doing the best he could, and that they had placed an incredible burden on him, though it was a burden he did not throw off for the sake of his own safety and greed. He had met many challenges and done the best he could, and his best might have been just enough to get them this far.

Now it was time to take them the rest of the way, wherever that led.

Daphne looked at Ryan out of the corner of a teary eye and said, “Ryan, we go through Silverton.”

Aaron said, “Silverton.”

Kristin, with a tired grin, added, “Silverton sounds as good as any place. Besides, I’ve never been there. Maybe there’s a nice bed and breakfast.”

Michelle said, sweetly of course, “Silverton sounds like a nice place.”

Ryan finished his smoke and pitched the butt onto the road. “Okay, let’s saddle up. Let’s see whatever’s there to see.”

They headed the last mile into Silverton, which, as far as mountain towns went, made Telluride look like a gaudy modern city. This town looked torn from the history books. It was all left in place during the passing years for the sake of tourists of course, but it looked like the kind of place that ancient war heroes would retire to spend their remaining time in peace and quiet. It had once been a mining town and still looked like one, and the sign at the edge of town spoke of a population of about five hundred and forty. But even from where they were, there were no burned buildings, no wrecked cars or bullet-ridden corpses. It was eerily like Gunnison. It seemed that everyone just left.

They continued driving into town but still saw nothing. It was a ghost town in the truest sense. Nothing still lived here and nothing appeared to have died here. It was, at least by appearances, a peaceful little mountain town as it had always been, just devoid of anything moving.

They parked near the opposite edge of town, allowing themselves a chance to get out if the situation changed, but as they got out, they heard nothing. No moans or shuffling footsteps heralded the approach of the dead. But at least one clue did show itself, which Doctor Dietrich, still completely forgetting his English, pointed out.

“Was ist das?”

He was pointing to a large pile of dead bodies, blackened by fire, stacked a hundred yards or so from their position in an open field. It looked like at least a couple of hundred, long burned and rotted away. Whatever had done that had done so long before Ryan and company came here.

“This is so damned weird. What happened here? A pile of bodies and an undamaged town? This doesn’t make any sense.” Kristin looked around, wondering if the answer was anywhere in sight.

Before anyone could ponder her query, Ike froze and said, “Does anyone but me hear that?”

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:32 am
by Ponyboy314
“If you make sure you're connected,
The writing's on the wall,
But if your mind's neglected,
Stumble you might fall…”

from Connected by Stereo MCs

None of the others had heard anything, but Ike still listened so intently that his ears almost seemed to flicker as he strained to pick up all the sounds of the world around him. But still, no one heard anything that didn’t seem to belong to this town.

Still, Ryan almost smelled something. Something was nearby, he could feel it. After his tour in Iraq, he got good at knowing when something was around. Call it angels and devils on his shoulders or the hairs on the back of his neck, but he did believe Ike. Something was in this town with them. Of course, it wasn’t long, a few seconds actually, that Ike was proven right. That came in the form of a human male voice that didn’t belong to anyone in Ryan’s group.

“Don’t move. I can see that you’re armed. Don’t try anything unless you want to get greased where you stand.”

Ryan slowly turned around, making no move to raise his M16. He raised his good hand to show that he had no intention of causing trouble, but a large part of him expected to see a collection of fat ass bikers wearing the colors of The Brawlers. But that wasn’t what he saw.

A man was standing about thirty feet from them, with an M16 identical to the ones that Ryan and Ike carried. He was about ten years older than Ryan and at least an inch taller, looking strong, alert, and ready to put down anyone who caused him a fuss. Still, he hadn’t raised his own weapon. He was dressed in a beige jumpsuit, hiking boots, and a gun belt was around his waist. To fans of Lost, he would have looked like a Dharma Initiative reject.

The man said, “So, you heard the broadcast?”

“Broadcast?” Ryan said.

“Yeah. We broadcast on every frequency we could, telling people where to go. We didn’t tell them to come here, but maybe this was as close as you could get. So, did you hear it?”

Ryan almost smirked. “Buddy, we never heard any broadcasts. We haven’t turned a radio on since last summer, when all the stations shut down.”

‘You didn’t come here looking for us? What are you doing in a place like Silverton?”

Ryan replied, “We were talking about heading into New Mexico and seeing what was there. Silverton was on the way.”

The man almost laughed. “And you were planning on heading down 550 into the Land of Enchantment, huh? Well, you don’t know how lucky you guys are, I can tell you that. Anyway, 550 is the last place you want to go. If you’re afraid of heights, that’s your worst nightmare. It’s a drop of a few hundred feet without a guardrail. Too many damned fools tried to get away when the infestation hit around here, and some idiot went and wrecked. From what our scouts say, the base of the cliff is littered with cars that went over during the exodus. That way is impassable.”

Ike spoke up. “Scouts? You have scouts? Who are you? Where are you from?”

The man looked almost confused. “You really don’t know, do you? You really don’t know where I’m from?”

“No, we don’t.”

The man walked forward, slinging his M16 as he moved. There was something about the way he walked, the way his eyes looked, something Ryan could not place, even though he had seen it a thousand times. But it had been a while, not since it was all falling apart.

“You’re a cop, aren’t you? At least you were one.” Ryan said.

The man stopped and smiled. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a leather wallet. He tossed it to Ryan who caught it easily. “How the hell did you guess that?” Ryan opened it and saw the badge. He was right. “Robert Heiser, formerly Sergeant Heiser, Colorado Highway Patrol, Durango station, at your service. But seriously, how did you guess that?”

Ryan tossed the man his badge back and tossed his own. “Officer Ryan Beckett, Colorado Highway Patrol, Pueblo station, at your service.”

“Are you shitting me? Pueblo? You worked Highway out of Pueblo? I can’t freaking believe this! Well,” Robert Heiser offered his hand, which Ryan shook. “Good to meet you, Officer Beckett. You the only cop here?”

“Yes. As far as what everyone else was, well, Ike here was Colorado National Guard, and everyone else old life can wait. This is my girlfriend Daphne, that’s Manuel and Yolanda, and their daughter Michelle.” Michelle smiled and waved, and Heiser returned both. “That there is Doctor Dietrich. He’s Austrian. He doesn’t speak English. Well, there’s some debate about that, but never mind that for now. The young couple holding each other over there are Aaron and Kristin.” Ryan was about to make another introduction, but his mind screamed at him that Boyd was gone.

“Jesus, I can’t believe this. The only people we have from Highway Patrol were actually from Durango. But you’re the first badge from the outside. This is…this is a real bug out.”

“Are you alone?” Ryan asked.

“Not at all. There are seven of my people all over the place. They were pointing rifles at you, but after we shook hands, they lowered their weapons. I didn’t want to freak you out by coming out with seven more armed men, but I didn’t want to take too many chances, either. I expect you get that. Not everyone we’ve met is friendly. You seem to be, I have to admit.”

“I assure you Sarge, we are. Anyway are you still hiding out in Durango? And do we have you to thank for that pile of roasted stiffs out there? Seriously, what’s the deal with you guys?”

“Well, we don’t call it Durango anymore, Mr. Beckett. We renamed it the Four Corners Colony. We’re not the only one. There’s Duke City one down in Socorro, New Mexico, mostly made up of refugees from Albuquerque, and then there’s the one in Winslow, Arizona. Those are the only two we’ve been in communication with ourselves, but our friends in Winslow say that there’s another outside of San Diego. We haven’t been in touch with them yet. But…are you sure you’ve never heard of the colonies that have been springing up?”

Ryan replied, “Not a damned word. We’re made up of the throw-aways from Pueblo, Salida, and Grand Junction, and I promise, you don’t want to go to any of those places. We all got together on the side of the road and we wintered in a camp near Delta. Before that, Daphne, Aaron, Kristin and I spent the summer hiding out in his cabin near Salida. We never knew about any colonies. Why are you calling your settlements ‘colonies?’”

“Because most of our residents aren’t from Durango. When the infestation got close, a lot of our people took off. The rest of us decided to stay and fight. I know how dramatic and Hollywood that sounds, but that’s what we did. We blocked the roads and tried to screen anyone we found trying to get in. Anyone took a shot at us, we killed them. We had to tag and bag some of our own people, and we also put down anyone infected. It was rough and a lot of feelings got hurt, but we did what we had to do. After that, we started moving everyone and everything to the town center and barricading it. Too many people came, trying to break in, screaming at us and threatening us when we didn’t make room for them. Some we took in, others we sent packing. When winter hit, everyone stopped coming and we worked like sled dogs expanding the barricades. We got a real break just after November started when a couple of Air Force C-130 Herks landed at our little airport. The had gotten out of Denver. They flew back there when winter really got us, loading materials for the wall and other supplies. In January, one of them didn’t come back. We’re still not certain what happened to it.”

Ryan bit his tongue, and so did everyone else. This was probably not the time for it.

“Winter kicked our ass, but nothing came by, so we were able to keep building our wall. We managed to expand it past the town and into some farmland, until we had to ground our remaining Herk when the snow got really bad.”

Many had something to ask. “Excuse me Sir, but what are you and your people doing here? What are you doing in this town?”

“Oh, we’re salvaging any equipment that might help us expand the wall and build anything inside of it. We came here a couple of days ago, and you’re lucky. This is our last trip here. Place wasn’t that big, you know.”

Manny continued, “How the hell are you hauling it?”

Robert Heiser smiled. “I’m glad you asked. You guys want to see something interesting?”

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:52 am
by trevor3433

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:28 am
by idahobob
Oh Maaaaaaan!!

This is to totally not right! Leaving us with this kind of cliff hanger!


Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 9:38 am
by Wrecking Ball
Sweet Jesus of Awesomness! :) Love it!

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:22 pm
by Yeti
I've tied it to the Woman and Ghost story.
Ponyboy wrote: “Well, we don’t call it Durango anymore, Mr. Beckett. We renamed it the Four Corners Colony. We’re not the only one. There’s Duke City one down in Socorro, New Mexico, mostly made up of refugees from Albuquerque, and then there’s the one in Winslow, Arizona. Those are the only two we’ve been in communication with ourselves, but our friends in Winslow say that there’s another outside of San Diego. We haven’t been in touch with them yet. But…are you sure you’ve never heard of the colonies that have been springing up?”
Duke Colony is the one where Krista and Ghost are from.

Four Corners Colony is the other one mentioned in the story at the end.
I'm betting this story ties into the founding of the Four Corners Colony portion of that story.

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:51 pm
by cowboyfromhel86
Well it only made sense to tie them together ... Alan Bradford( I think thats how you spelled it) gona make an appearance lol

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:09 pm
by Yeti
cowboyfromhel86 wrote:Well it only made sense to tie them together ... Alan Bradford( I think thats how you spelled it) gona make an appearance lol
Nay the way I read the story on Bradford is he came into Duke City and never went to Four Corners.
If the time tables are right I would put this story about the time he would be coming into Duke City though. Ponyboy would have to do the verification of that though.

We are what full year after start of ZPAW on this one?

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 3:47 pm
by kremor
I had my money on a hook up with the kids from Death of a Conscience and the Twelve, but this is even better!

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 5:41 pm
by Wrecking Ball
Yeti wrote:I've tied it to the Woman and Ghost story.
Ponyboy wrote: “Well, we don’t call it Durango anymore, Mr. Beckett. We renamed it the Four Corners Colony. We’re not the only one. There’s Duke City one down in Socorro, New Mexico, mostly made up of refugees from Albuquerque, and then there’s the one in Winslow, Arizona. Those are the only two we’ve been in communication with ourselves, but our friends in Winslow say that there’s another outside of San Diego. We haven’t been in touch with them yet. But…are you sure you’ve never heard of the colonies that have been springing up?”
Duke Colony is the one where Krista and Ghost are from.

Four Corners Colony is the other one mentioned in the story at the end.
I'm betting this story ties into the founding of the Four Corners Colony portion of that story.

I thought that too as soon as I saw "Duke Colony" but didn't want to say anything lest PB get upset that we've figured it out! :P

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:03 pm
by Dawgboy
What is this "other" story you speak of???

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:14 pm
by Mangangali
Dawgboy wrote:What is this "other" story you speak of??? ... 28&t=58054" onclick=";return false;

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:45 pm
by Ponyboy314
“You’re so special,
You’re so special,
She said, get on, get on, get on, get on, get on my groovy train,
Get on my groovy train…”

from Groovy Train by The Farm

As Robert Heiser led the group down the street to whatever was ‘interesting,’ he waved his hand through the air, which turned out to be a summon for those he had hiding out, watching his back. They were all dressed and equipped as he was, and as they began to gather near Ryan and the group, most of them were staring in amazement at this small collection of humanity that had made it here from God-knows where. During their walk, Ryan and Robert continued speaking, mostly about happier times on the Highway Patrol, but that was brief as more immediate matters took center stage.

“So Robert, that pile of crispy critters back there, did your people do that?”

“Part of it. The locals did the rest. Most of those in that pile had come here running away from this mess, but of course, some had been bitten. Always seemed to happen that way. When this place became infected, some of the locals took matters into their own hands and dealt with it. Last fall before the snow hit, we showed up, evacuated the remaining locals, and put down the rest of them. Some of those in that pile of bodies had lived here and got caught up in it. So we stacked and burned the bodies. This place hasn’t had one of those things lurking around since…October I want to say. So Ryan, you guys came through here trying to cross over into New Mexico, huh? You caught us on the right day. This is our last trip here. We’re collecting the last of anything useful. After this, Silverton is going to be left alone. You’re damned lucky.”

“I’m getting that, Robert.”

Some of Robert Heiser’s people had begun conversing with Ryan’s group, including one who took an immediate liking to Daphne, but of course, she had learned a thing or two about civility and responded by saying that not only was she involved, but her boyfriend was actually four feet in front of her and was a state cop. The smitten man who had been trying lock eyes with her had been a rookie La Plata County sheriff’s deputy (his station was in Durango) and backed off right away when he heard that she was already dating a highway patrolman. But they finally reached what appeared to be something of an old fashioned railway station, which wasn’t surprising to Ryan or most of his group, as most people in Colorado in particular and the American southwest in general had heard of the Durango & Silverton Railroad, probably the most popular tourist attraction in the Four Corners area, apart from the Four Corners itself. But what utterly shocked everyone was that the train was there, accompanied by the sound of venting steam.

“What…the hell…is that thing doing here?” Ryan asked.

Robert showed a satisfied grin. “That’s how we’ve been moving between the colony and here. The problem is that it only runs between the colony and Silverton, so now that we have everything in this town that’s even remotely useful, we’ll probably never use it again. What a damned pity. But it’s nice to see something of the old world still kicking, isn’t it?”

“Indeed it is.”

Many of the rail cars that once held tourists had been converted (or replaced) by flat cars, now loaded with construction equipment, what little could be found in Silverton, that is. There were also numerous crates and canvas bags, which Ryan immediately thought contained anything else that the colony probably needed, like clothes or canned food, but he didn’t ask.

The conductor came walking up after jumping off the train engine. He was at least in his fifties and probably closer to sixty than fifty, with a Stetson on his head and a handlebar mustache that would have made Wyatt Earp jealous. He wore the narrow-striped overalls of a classic train conductor, and of course, marked with the ‘Durango & Silverton Railroad’ patch. He wore an old-west style gun belt (complete with an equally old-fashioned Peacemaker revolver) and had a Winchester in his hands, and not a reproduction, either. It was easily twice the owner’s age by the look of it, but seemed to have been well-taken care of.

“Robert, what the hell do we have here?”

“Survivors, Smokey. They came from all over. They were passing through here heading south and they just happened to do so on the right day, wouldn’t you say?”

“That’s a whole lotta luck, I gotta say, and luck is a hell of a rare thing these days. So, what you planning on doing with them?”

Robert turned to Ryan. “That’s a hell of a good question, Ryan. Now that you know about the colonies, what exactly are you planning to do? We always keep an eye out for survivors, and with a cop and a national guardsman here, your group seems to be a lucky find. Actually, Ike is it? What did you do in the Guard?”

“I was in an engineering company. Construction mostly.”

“Well, construction, talk about a skill we can use. But anyway, you can go on your merry way if you want to make a go of it on your own, but I’m allowed to invite any survivors we find to come with us. We can use the manpower, I can tell you that. Durango had a population of around fifteen thousand back before all this, but most of them ran off when the shit hit the fan and others…well, you can imagine. But now, there probably aren’t but forty-five hundred living there.”

Ryan asked, “What would we find if we went there?”

“Oh, a wall surrounding the town, or at least the parts of town we’re using. We’re expanding the wall as quickly as materials allow to make room for more farmland, and it’s just about planting season, or at least that’s what they tell me. I’m not a farmer, but after our last extension, we have room for the goat and sheep farm we were planning. Keeping the livestock in the public parks was a pain in the ass, let me tell you.”

“What about the power and water? I mean, is the town…”

Robert smiled. “Functional? Yes it is. But there’s room for more. So there it is. We have a town, we have supplies and we’re growing more. We spent the winter running around to every place we could find to get extra food, clothes, medicine, soap, all that sort of thing. But what we need now are people to help us build our home, defend it, and take care of it.”

Ryan still couldn’t believe what he was hearing. It was only yesterday morning that they left the camp into a world they thought was probably devoid of all human life save for themselves, and now they found themselves actually being invited to a functioning town that had beaten seemingly impossible odds, even if most of the residents didn’t.

“Robert, do you mind if I discuss this with my people?”

“Go ahead. We’re out of here in half an hour, so you have that long to decide.”

Ryan now had time to pack his pipe. He gathered everyone around him a few feet away from Robert Heiser and his gawking brood.

“So, you all heard him, and I apologize for the understatement, but this changes everything. I hope that this place is what he said it is, but at least we know that something is out there and can put a wall between us and them. If Durango or the Four Corners Colony as he called it is really functioning with a third of the population it once had, we have a real chance. A chance to stop living in the woods, a chance to stop running, a chance to not lose another one of our friends. This is a decision we need to make as a group. I vote that we go with them. I know we run the risk of these people not being what the appear to be, but the greater risks are out there on that road. What do you all say?”

Daphne said, “A home in a real town? Never really had that before. A wall? A place to settle down? Well, I think we should at least go and check out the property values.”

Aaron and Kristin nodded with tears in their eyes. They didn’t need to say a word. Manny said, “So you think they have schools there? We need to think about Michelle’s future.”

Ryan yelled out, “Robert? Is there a school in your colony?”

“Yeah, we use the middle school for all the kids. We’ll move into others when we get more kids, at least that’s what they tell me.”

“There you go, Manny.”

“Then we’re in.”

Ike simply said, “I’m tired of being afraid. Let’s go home.”

Ryan turned around, breathing heavily as the impact of this development really started to hit him.

“Robert, we’re in.”

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:00 pm
by Wrecking Ball
Yay for peace!! :)

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:06 pm
by ZMace
The end?

Re: Two for the Road

Posted: Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:24 pm
by Ponyboy314
ZMace wrote:The end?
I always have ways of telling the readers that the story is absolutely over. You'll know when the end comes, trust me.