Chapter One: The Beginning of the End
Well, it's a new day and I'm still alive, halleluiah. Dad is too. We made it to my place with little trouble and soon had everything fully unloaded and packed away in my back bedroom and the kitchen.
Dad and I spent some time after that looking around the outside of the house to see how defensible it might be. It didn't look all that great.
The front and back doors were simple wood, and not all that sturdy. I had screen doors on both to keep out the weather. The windows on the house were also set fairly low in their frames, it wouldn't take much to break through one and gain entry…
We weighed our options and began to form a plan. I had a large stockpile of old pallets from a factory job I used to have stacked up. I'd take the old pallets home and break them up for firewood. (I got Dad's old stove.) Anyway, it had been a warm winter last year so I had quite a pile of pallets built up.
Dad and I went to work using these pallets to first block the windows and then to create a sort of fencing around the windows that any of those things would have to get through first, before they could even get to the pallet covered windows. We did the windows and then made a large blockade around each door. After that we counted up what pallets were left and decided to break these up into large stakes.
The stakes were placed in a tight formation around the whole house. By the time we were finished it was very late, so we decided to call it a night.
We went inside and ate a quick meal, then took turns on watch, four hours on, four hours off. Dad slept first, then I got a chance. I was so exhausted, by the time my head hit the pillow, I was already asleep.
I awoke to the smell of fresh coffee brewing. I smiled to myself, still not fully awake and then it all came flooding back. I shot up out of bed in a panic and fearfully looked around. Everything looked normal. The power was still on so that was a bonus. I made a quick dash to my bathroom and started my morning routine.
Once finished and refreshed, I headed for the kitchen.
"Morning son." My Dad greeted me. "Saw a couple of those… things out there last night. I'm glad you decided to keep the place dark last night or they'd have come right here."
While Dad had slept, I'd shot out my outside farm light with my .22 rifle and draped the windows with old blankets and sheets. The only light I left on in the house was my bathroom night-light. The small window was fully blocked over from the outside and I put up a thick piece of an old wool blanket on the inside to keep any light from bleeding through any cracks.
"Did they look at the house?" I asked.
"Just for a moment or three as they passed by on the road. It was touch and go for a minute there. I thought I might have to take them out, but they moved on." Dad replied.
"Good. Well, it's daylight out, let's get a look at our defenses and see what we can do to improve on them." I said looking out the front door.
We did a quick walk around the perimeter of the house and then got to work fortifying what we'd done so far. We added more stakes in two more rows around the place before we ran out of pallets. Then I started looking through my garage to see what else we might use for protection.
I knew I had two sets of Goalie gear somewhere in there, and after sifting through twenty years worth of garbage I'd collected over the years, I found them.
I played hockey in high school and college and, of course, was a goalie. One set was a little small on me, but the other was still okay. I decided to wear the smaller set anyway, since there was no chance in hell that Dad would fit into the gear.
I took the hockey sticks I had on hand and made one into a nice club. The other was cracked so I went ahead and broke it. The sharp end that resulted would make for a good skewer. I made a kind of sheathe for the latter and tied a looped strap around the former, using lots of duct tape to hold it in place.
Once I was full clad, I was very hard to get to if you wanted to eat me, and I had several means to protect myself.
I thought briefly about even wearing the skates as an added weapon, but my ankles were in no shape to keep me on the blades anymore, so I reluctantly gave up the idea. Then I had a new brainstorm. I could use the blades on my arms too, with a little work.
It took me a couple of hours to integrate them into the gear, but once I had them in place I was really in business. Now I could slash with my forearms while fending off anything that got too close.
To round out the outfit fully, I used some thick leather aprons I had from a welding job and made a sort of leather collar to go around my neck with a hood to cover the back of my head. It was thick enough; I couldn't move my head much, but enough in case something, or someone, tried to bite me there.
The whole thing was like wearing an oven once I had it all put together, but it would keep me alive short of being swarmed by a large crowd of those things. Finally, I fixed my leggings on and then put on a good pair of thick leather boots from Redwing.
When Dad saw me, he let out a snort and then gave a good once over, inspecting my work. Finally he said, "Well, you're well protected for the most part, but you'll never move very fast in that getup. Anyway, you won't need to wear that yet. We have enough supplies to last us quite a while in here. We should stock up on water while the power's still on."
I nodded and headed for the shed behind my house. I keep old gallon milk jugs in there. I rinse them out and use them for drinking water. There's an old well on the property that stinks from sulfur. I never used it, instead using the county water that gets piped in from who knows where. Hey, it's tons better than the sulfur crap. Anyway, the county water was gonna stop soon I'm sure, so I started filling jugs as fast as I could from an outside hydrant and hauling them into the house.
Meanwhile, Dad had filled the tub in the bathroom and every other seal-able container I had in the house, from bottles to Tupperware...
All told, I'd say we had about fifty gallons of clean drinking water. That job took us most of the morning.
Once all that was done, we took stock of our food supplies and determined what would last the longest and what the least amount of time. All the fresh foods like eggs, fruits and some vegetables and such that I had, we start to cook or eat over the next week. Basically anything in the fridge was eaten first. Everything else was sorted and packed in order of expiration date.
I had a dehydrator and a smoker that I used to make deer jerky and things like that. Dad set to work cooking all the meat in the coolers we managed to fill from his deep freeze and then using the smoker on it dry it out for jerky. I used the dehydrator on some of the veggies and fruits that were in the best condition and made some trailmix bags by adding in some peanuts other nuts I had in my snack stash.
All this took us the next week to work on. We still had a lot of meat in my freezers to go through too. I'm a good hunter... When all that was finished and we'd eaten the last of the food that would spoil pretty quick, we'd extended out long-term food supplies to about five months... as long as we rationed it quite a bit.
The next big problem we had though was Dad's insulin supply. He had to have it five times a day from three different kinds and he had enough on hand for only about two months... I was going to have to go out looking for some...
I geared up and headed for my Dad's truck. My vehicle wasn't very secure what with the windshield busted out of it and all, so I took his.
Dad stayed behind and barricaded himself in the house. He wasn't feeling well he told me, so I was on my own for this jaunt.
I took my Beretta and .22 rifle with me, just in case I needed to shoot something less than friendly to me. I also had my hockey sticks for that up close and personal approach if needed. I rounded it all off with a solid three pound ball-paean hammer I had in a loop of my jeans and a hunting knife on my belt. Oh yeah... Rambo, eat your heart out... if you haven't already Stallone...
Naturally I headed to the nearest pharmacy, which was in a small town a few miles away. I figured the bigger town pharmacies would be overrun by undead, or already looted by the locals. It had been over a week after all since we left the city.
As I drove, I saw several walkers shambling along the road I was on. Some looked to be in really good shape, hardly a visible mark on em, while others were fairly disfigured; missing limbs, lips and faces... It was quite the scenic route for the those looking to see half eaten people on the side of the road.
Then I started running into traffic. It wasn't too bad, just a few abandoned cars, trucks, and in one case a tricycle motorbike, the rider still in the seat, what was left of him at least... Oh yeah, I gotta get me one of those...
I made okay time until I hit the outskirts of the small village I was targeting. When I got that far, I saw something that gave me a great deal of pause... a herd... I wasn't large, maybe three hundred strong, but it was more than enough for me to turn tail and run the other way. Unfortunately, they saw me, and I saw that they saw me, so I decided to change direction at the next turn off I found and then I waited a few moments for the leaders to close... You're saying about now, are you nuts?! In a way I am I suppose, but I wasn't about to lead this bunch down the road to my house was? How stupid do you think I am? Don't answer that...
Anyway, the herd came shambling up at a fairly good clip so I tore off down this new road for about a mile. I knew the area around here fairly well, so I knew this road lead to an old rock quarry. This one had two ways in and out so I wasn't worried about getting trapped, that is until I saw a semi with its trailer jack knifed across my path another quarter mile away ahead. I checked my rearview and saw the herd turning towards me on the road. I also saw that the herd was larger than I'd first estimated, now there were at least five hundred in it and they were all heading right at me... Joy...
As I got closer to the rig and its trailer, I saw someone had cut a path through the trees that looked like it might give me a way around the road block. I went for broke and followed the detour. I was in luck, the path quickly cut back to the road and I was on my way towards the main gate to the quarry.
I saw a few dozen cars and trucks ahead, all of them scattered around the main gate. They looked abandoned. They also looked like a barricade as I got closer and saw they had a sort of pattern. Whoever set it all up made a horseshoe out of the vehicles. I wasn't really a barricade so much as it was a funnel. I saw that they'd parked the vehicles right up next to each other so there was little to no gap. There was a clear path into the quarry itself that I was about to follow, but then I got to thinking, this is a perfect trap for walkers... I cut to the right as I neared the first set of cars and then zipped in behind them, avoiding entering what I could now see was a kind of gauntlet that lead straight to a three hundred foot drop into the deepest part of the quarry ahead.
I took a good look around as I now had a little time before the herd caught up to me. I didn't see a soul, not even a single walker either. Huh, I wonder who set all this up? I looked to the road and saw the first few walkers coming down it towards the quarry. I realized that this trap might not work on such a large bunch unless they were lured into it, the trap needed some bait.
Just then I heard a series of shots ring out. They were coming from the last car in the lined path to the brink. Somebody was shooting and making a LOT of noise. Car alarms started to go off, these sounded like they were coming from deeper into the quarry, like at the bottom... I was beginning to be impressed as the herd made a prompt bee-line for the person firing their rifle and lighting some fireworks. I also thought they were plum loco...
The herd leaders rolled to a stop at the last car, reaching for the fresh meat so generously offered, only the ones in the back were hungry too, so they pushed and shoved to get in on the action. This of course forced the leaders over the edge of the man made cliff where they fell the requisite three hundred plus feet. Body plus that long a fall equals splat. At the very least, a lot of broken bones and hopefully some smashed skulls as well in the mix. So, even if the walker wasn't taken out fully, it wasn't likely to be causing anyone any trouble anymore after such a fall... hopefully.
The figure eventually managed to hide and then slink away from the eager walkers, and the car alarms drew the stragglers in and to their dooms. All told, I counted a total of five hundred and twenty-nine walkers dropped... Not a bad day's work, if I do say so myself.
Unfortunately, I was sop distracted by the show, somebody got the drop on me. "Don't move asshole!"
I froze and waited for further instructions... I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but, and I hope you're listening up there, I'm not stupid either... most of the time...
A short man came around to the driver's side of my truck and opened the door, "We've got you covered dickweed, so don't do anything stupid, now then step out of the truck... slowly! Keep your hands where we can see em too!"
I complied, seeing at least three rifles pointed at me from other parts of the walker trap. As I stepped out, clad in most of my hockey gear, I hadn't put on the mask yet, I was stripped of my weapons. I was then slammed against my truck door and searched by somebody who either had law enforcement experience or had been searched in a like manner themselves quite often... I was hoping for law enforcement... No such luck.
I was searched then pulled around to face one of the ugliest looking Aryan Brothers I'd ever seen. Thank God, I'm white myself, or I'd likely have been summarily tossed into the quarry to join the walker corpses below... He had to stand at least six-five, and looked to weigh an easy two-eighty, all of it solid muscle, unlike my flabby self.
"Who are you boy, you one of those queer Jew boys from town? Naw, they don't drive none, do they. Well? You got a tongue, start waggin' it God Dammit..." he commanded.
"I'm just passing through, I saw the herd and made a bee-line outta there to here." I half-lied. No way was I telling this guy I was a local...
"Check the registration on this truck boys... Let's see if he's a lying bitch..." the man called out to his henchmen.
One of the guys I couldn't see pulled the passenger door open and searched the glove box. "Says here, the truck's registered to a place in Peoria Boss."
The guy holding me smirked, "A city boy huh. Well City Boy, you're now on our shit list. Take this piece of shit to holding..." He grabbed my Beretta from one of his cronies, "Nice hardware. It's mine now. Move it City Boy!"
I moved it. As I did, I saw my Dad's truck being searched by three other guys. They siphoned off most of the gas and then added it to the trap, widening the funnel by a truck length, then I was hauled over the lip of the quarry and down to a caged off area...
The caged area had a series of Red Cross tents inside it. I realized after a moment that it was likely that someone from the Red Cross had set them up here as a sort of refugee camp. A closer look proved me right, at least in theory, but from the many old blood trails leading out of the area and towards the deeper parts of the quarry, the place had been overrun and everyone killed and made into snack food and, eventually, more walkers.
I spent three days in a tent there, being fed MREs by the jailors once a day. I got all the water I wanted though so I didn't feel too terribly hungry. Then old Baldy came over and started to question me about why I was in the area and what I'd been doing before the day of the great walker-fall. I kept my mouth shut, except to say the same as before, that I was just passing through and not looking for trouble.
"City Boy, it's a damn good thing I like you, you see ya saved us a few days work getting rid of that herd and it didn't cost us a soul. So here's what I'm gonna do. You tell me where yer based at, I know you have someplace nearby, don't give me that innocent look! You didn't even have a grab bag, let alone any supplies, so that means yer based pretty damned close to here, now where is it? Tell me, share whatcha got, and you can go with a full week's rations from the MREs. No more questions asked, got it? It's a damned good deal, I'd take it if I were you. Now what'll it be?" he said.
I thought it over... for a full nanosecond, then just laughed.
That pissed him off, naturally.
I got tortured for a few hours after that. I won't go into details, though it started with a simple beating, then escalated from there.
After they'd had some fun, they actually started asking me some questions. I didn't say much, just how flattering they'd all look in granny panties at a strip club for the homeless...
That got me a few more lost teeth. Then they really started to work me over.
By the end of the day, I was a lump of raw flesh, I'd seen walkers that looked more alive than me. I'd lost at least a pint of blood, probably two, and I wasn't gonna be walking around anytime soon. Both my feet were mangled to the point where it was agony to stumble, let alone walk.
I was left alone for a day, then a guy came in wearing a doctor's smock and began to patch me up. "Just give him what he wants. You won't last much longer like this man." the Doc told me.
I just ignored his advice and let him stem the bleeding and wrap bandages around my many injuries. When he was finished, I looked like a mummy, almost...
I endured several more agonizing days of lighter torture after that, the Doc was kind enough to point out how near death I was, and Baldy wanted my supplies. They left me alone for a day after that, then started in again. I lost both my pinkies, one digit at a time, that's when it got real. I was ready to break. I was inches away from giving in and telling Baldy about Dad and our supplies. I was ready, really, I was gonna squeal like a snitch's fine bitch, but then something changed everything. I new man walked into the tent I was occupying and apparently blew his stack.
He was dressed military and after I got a good look, I saw he had gold oak leaves on his lapels, a major then. He began screaming for a corpsman. In seconds, another man, also in drab green BDUs ran into the tent carrying a medical satchel, a corporal it would seem. Higgins was stenciled into his uniform shirt.
Higgins went to work on me, and pretty quickly I was feeling better, in fact, I was flying high on the meds he pumped into me. The last coherent thing I remember was seeing Baldy looking not much better then me right before I went off into lala land.
It was a full week later before I was free to go. The Army guys had been sent to check on the refugee center only to find it overrun. They'd tried unsuccessfully since then to report back as to their status and what had happened here.
Baldy was hanging from a high limb outside the quarry, a bullet between his eyes after he'd turned as he swung in the air. Several of his cronies were alongside him, the rest he'd been bullying into impromptu slave labor. It's likely that I'd have ended up one of those of I'd been smart enough to have a damned grab bag in the truck. As it was, I'm sure he'd lied about his first offer anyway, and I'd proven this out after talking to a few of the presently slaves.
Baldy would've added me to his chain gang, no matter what I'd told him.
Major Franks was kind enough to return my gear and weapons, minus what ammunition Baldy had fired out of it. I was given a week's rations, and the insulin I'd been after, when I explained who I was and why I was there. I had enough to last Pop at least three more months.
Higgins volunteered to accompany me back home, to examine my Dad. It'd been at least two and a half weeks since I left the house. I was really worried about him, so I accepted his offer gladly.
The drive back was anticlimactic really, we only saw one walker, and she was a crawler really. She had no legs left. I jumped out and finished her, thinking I hope someone would do the same for me if the time ever comes. Then we finished the drive.
I knew things weren't normal when we got there. Half the crates were askew around the front windows and the shed door was banging ominously in the wind. Something I know Dad would have fixed in my absence.
I approached the front door with a sense of foreboding. I could see signs of walker activity on the screen door due to the fact that some flesh was hanging off the now broken window and dried blood was smeared all over the main door itself. I was close to panicking now.
I opened the door, which was still locked, and called out to my Dad. At first there was nothing, then I heard a muffled sound coming from the hallway to the bedrooms. A few seconds later, my Dad cautiously came into view, holding his gun in a weak grip at his side.
He looked like hell, but he was alive, "Where the hell have you been?"
I sighed in relief, "I got caught by some bad people Pop." I still had plenty of bandages covering my injuries, including my hands, which Dad saw right off.
He rushed forward and began to inspect me thoroughly, "Good Lord, your hands! What happened to your hands? Were you bit?"
"No Dad, I'm bite free, but those assholes really did a number on me. I lost my pinkies, keeping you and this place a secret." I told him as he looked me over.
"Not much of a secret anymore is it," he said as he noticed Higgins standing in the doorway now.
"Corporal Gary Higgins Sir, I'm a medic. I came to give you a quick checkup, make sure you were doing okay." Higgins supplied to my father.
"Well, can't say I'd turn ya down son, I've the been sick for quite a bit now." my Dad replied and then waved Higgins towards the kitchen, "Let's do it in here, more light ya see."
Higgins went to work on my Dad while Pop filled me in on what he'd been up to. "Had a small herd pass here last week, some came up to the door and broke your window trying to get in before they gave up and moved on. I was too sick to do much about it I'm afraid. Power died out about a day later, I saved as much as I could, but we lost a lot of the uncooked meat and anything else you had in the freezers and fridge."
I gave a sigh at that. That meant around two hundred pounds of deer burger was gone to spoilage along with all the ice cream and other frozen treats I'd had in the freezers. Ah well, I knew most of it was likely a lost cause. It still hurt to see so much food go to waste.
Higgins finished up his examination and gave a small smile. "You look like you've done all the right things, you're well hydrated at least. Have you had any nausea or diarrhea?"
"Some of both, but my appetite is improving now. I think I beat whatever it was." Dad replied.
"Do you mind if I take a blood sample? A urine sample would be helpful as well if you don't mind?" Higgins asked.
Dad gave him a look, "Well, I guess I can do that. I don't like needles though, so if I haul off and hit ya, you know why..." ha added the last bit with an evil looking smirk.
Higgins gave a laugh and grabbed his blood drawing kit and a urine sample container from his bag. "I'm really good at sticking people sir, you'll hardly notice it, I promise."
A few minutes later, Higgins had his samples and headed for my car. I decided to let him have the damned thing to add to the trap. He left a few minutes later.
"Pop, are you feeling okay enough to take a watch for a while? I'm still a little pumped up on the drugs they gave me. I need to lay down for a bit, okay?" I asked Dad.
"Sure son, you go and rest, I'll start straightening up the defenses and get that damned door latched to the shed, it's kept me up most nights for a week!" Dad said.
I headed for my room and went to sleep.
That was the last time I would speak to my father while he was alive...
AN: Well there you have it! The first main chapter of what will be an epic tale of heartache and woe for John Spiner... This story will eventually merge with my other WD fic and then merge with Rick's group down in Georgia.
I've only seen up to the Season 4 midway finale of the show so far so the merge will likely happen either at the farm or the prison.
I want to really cement John and a few other characters into your brains before the Rick merger so you have as much of a vested interest in their lives as the main characters from the show. Time will tell if I succeed...
PS, Ah crap! Poor Pop! I know, I kinda liked the old fart, but making him so old and unhealthy in general due to his diabetes, I just knew he couldn't remain long. This will be a very important turning point for my main character as now he'll be truly on his own in the world... How will he cope? Tune in for Dad's final end in the next exciting chapter!
PPS, Please read and review!