After the fight against the goons from the military base, Thomas lay bleeding in a ditch in the woods near Snyder Farms. His body was riddled with gunshot wounds, and Brook was nearly in shock from the firefight, and from watching Thomas take the bullets that were meant for her. Thankfully, Dr. Winters, “Father” Kenneth, and Sean reached them quickly, and Fabiana was able to get Thomas patched up enough to move him back to the farm house. “Father” Kenneth guided Brooke to the farm house, while Bryce and Sean loaded Thomas onto a makeshift stretcher and carried him back. Meanwhile, Mike and Alison made sure the dead raiders wouldn’t start walking again, and with Trip’s assistance, they scavenged what they could from the corpses and their vehicles. With the help of the community, the corpses were dragged to the field across from the church/community hall and burned in a large pyre. If the raider’s comrades could see the smoke from the fire, they would either take it as a sign that the community was burning, or as a warning not to mess with Snyder Farms. Either way was acceptable. Mike did sit by one of the raiders, and as he began to become one of the things, he cut off the head to take back to Fabiana for study purposes.
Back at the farm house, Fabiana remove the bullet fragments from Thomas and sewed up the wounds, with only the few antiseptic supplies on hand and no anesthesia other than some of the dwindling supply of painkillers. Brooke sat quietly by his bedside, drifting in and out of consciousness herself.
After carrying Thomas to the farm house, Bryce and Sean set about the work of towing the raiders’ trucks out of the woods and moving them to block those dirt trails into the community. Those trails were also set up with barbed wire from the community’s supplies, to make traversing them more difficult for any more raiders, or walking dead, that would try to use them. Finally, they added the trunks of felled trees to the makeshift barricades.
Finally, with the community a little more secured, James thanked Bryce for all the group had done to help the community, letting him know that it wasn’t required of them, or even expected that they would go out to meet the raiders head on, but that he and the entire town were thankful for it. James told Bryce that he knew they wouldn’t be able to stay there forever, but that they were holding out as long as they could because it was easier to get people to defend their homes and community, along with their electricity, running water, and crops, than it was to go hole up someplace with strong walls, but no comforts that the people were not passionate about. It was more than surviving. James wanted to also let his people “live” for as long as they could. Bryce couldn’t disagree with that rationale and the two agreed that the community would have to be made as secure as possible as soon as possible. More barriers, whether they were ditches with barbed wire, felled trees, or whatever, were necessary. Also, James let Bryce know that the town’s perimeter patrols would be increased. Also, the next supply team that went to the community’s supply source would put in a request for materials to make the town more secure. Harry Ross and his men were in charge of supply runs and would be notified in the morning.
That night, as everyone was settling to sleep, except those on guard duty, the now familiar sounds of a barely stifled argument began to emanate from Jeff and Caitlin’s room upstairs. Bryce made his way upstairs and knocked on the door. He could hear them talking quietly, and the sounds of Caitlin’s footsteps as she moved to answer his knock. When Caitlin asked if she could help him, Bryce told her in no uncertain terms to knock-off their arguing, so people could get sleep, especially the children. Caitlin smiled at Bryce and told him to kindly mind his own business and allow her to take care of hers. Then, she closed the door in his face. As Bryce contemplated his next move, kicking in the door perhaps, he became aware of someone standing behind him. He turned, ready to defend himself, only to find the Murray’s older daughter, Barbara, standing there. She was cradling one of the stuffed animals that had been scavenged from the walled subdivision and looking up at him with wide, uncertain eyes.
Barbara asked Bryce if “Mommy and Daddy” were fighting again, and he led her downstairs to the sofa in the living room. Barbara told Bryce that her parents always fought. She wished it would stop, but that they were going to get a divorce before the dead started getting up. She said that her Mommy was going to take them to Grandma’s house to stay, but then everything happened. She asked Bryce if he thought Grandma had become one of those dead things. He told her he hoped not. As Barbara began to settle down and get sleepy again, the sound of a young girl’s scream split the night. Bryce ran out the front door while Mike and others, including Caitlin, grabbed what weapons they could and raced through out into the night. Moments later, a woman’s scream echoed through the community.
When the group arrived at the source of the screams, several members of the community were already there. James and several others were dragging somebody across the ground, away from a house. A near hysterical woman holding a young girl of about 7 was nearby, and a crowd was already gathering. The group recognized the woman as Jenny Cardile, and the child as her daughter, Cathy. James asked for help and Bryce pitched in, grabbing the struggling figure that was obviously a walker, and not among the living. He wanted to put the thing down right there, but James urged him not to do it in front of his wife and daughter, so they dragged the thing to some open ground next to the church.
While the men dragged John Cardile, Sr. away, Mike and Alison set about checking the area around the house for more walkers or even raiders. Caitlin checked out the house and saw “Father” Kenneth emerge carrying the body of a child who had obviously been bitten and was covered with a blanket. Apparently, someone had left a door open and the thing had wandered into “his” old home. His youngest child, 2 year old Brian, had greeted him with open arms and was bitten severely. Cathy’s screams brought her older brother from upstairs, as well as her mother from next door, where she had been sitting with Alice, the cancer patient, and several other members of the community.
In the field beside the church, “Father” Kenneth said ecumenical prayers over the father and son. As soon as he was finished, several members of the community led Jenny and Cathy away while Bryce moved to finish off the walker that had been John Cardile, Sr. As he moved in, everyone heard a shotgun being readied and turned to see 15 year old John Cardile, Jr. holding the weapon. He told Bryce, “He was my Daddy. I was supposed to be watching them while Momma was out, so this is my job.”
As Bryce made to protest, John, Jr. put the shotgun close to his father’s head and pulled the trigger, splattering gore everywhere, then turned and quickly walked away. “Father” Kenneth then knelt over little Brian’s body, said a quick prayer, while covering the top of the boy’s head with his arm and sleeve, and punched a knife into the boy’s brain to prevent his “turning” into one of the things.
Dawn found James out in the field near the church, digging graves for the bodies of John Cardile, Sr. and his son Brian. Bryce went out to join James and assist in burying the community’s dead. As they talked more about the possibility of leaving the community, someone came running up to James to inform him there was trouble over at the Cardile residence again. Mike joined Bryce and James in going to check out the situation. In the upstairs hallway of the home, they found a wall spattered with blood near the corpse of Jenny Cardile. She had a length of rope trailing from a noose around her neck and her skull was bashed in with a hammer. The rest of the rope was tied around a ceiling beam. Nearby was a chair with a knife on it that had obviously been used to cut the rope. In the bedroom doorway stood John Cardile, Jr. who had seen his brother killed by his undead father, who he then shot in the head at close range with a shotgun. He was holding a bloody hammer and his little sister, Cathy, coward behind him in shock. As they tried to talk John, Jr. into handing over the hammer and coming out of the house, He told them that he had to “do it” because she was going to become one of “those things” just like Dad. At any approach, he held up the hammer to defend himself. Mike moved forward slowly, with his hands out, and persuaded John, Jr. to give up the hammer and come with him. John, Jr. slowly handed over the bloody hammer and began to follow Mike down the hall, with Cathy still cowering right against his back as he moved. As John reached his mother’s corpse, and the chair with the knife, he swiftly grabbed the knife and moved to plunge it into Mike’s back. Bryce, thinking and reacting quickly, disarmed the boy and pinned him against the floor. When asked why he tried to kill Mike, John, Jr. replied that it didn’t matter, because they were all going to become those things, just like his Dad. They were all dead already. Mike and a few other men of the community grabbed John, Jr. off the floor and moved him out of the house. Cathy was brought to the farm house to stay with the other children and be watched over by Fabiana as much as possible. She was also given a low dose of sedative to help calm her.
After the second incident at the Cardile house, James asked the group to meet with him about the state of the community. In a meeting room at the church, James, Michael, and “Father” Kenneth gathered with Bryce, Mike, Trip, Fabiana, Alison, and even Thomas and Brooke ventured out of the house to attend the meeting. The only ones left behind were Jeff and David Norris to watch the children. It was decided that the community would have to be evacuated. Everyone would be gathered, given a short time to gather necessary supplies and essential belongings (ONLY essential things) and to load into vehicles to evacuate. James and the others then explained to the group about the secure survivor stronghold in the city known as Sanctuary. That stronghold was the source of many of Snyder Farms’ supplies over the past 6 weeks. The people there supported local survivor communities with supplies and welcomed them to join them inside their fortified area if necessary. James told the group that the community would appreciate their help in evacuating to Sanctuary. They could then leave as they saw fit, and would be outfitted with fuel and supplies to continue their journey as they wished. The group agreed to this and then went out into the community to spread the word of a community meeting at the church/community center. They would leave it to the community’s leaders to inform them of the plan and convince everyone to leave.
The one sticky situation was what to do with John Cardile, Jr. The suggestion was made to leave him in the community with a gun, ammo, and supplies, but it was decided that this would be essentially the same as killing him, because it would sentence him to death by either the walking dead, raiders, or his own hand. Mike and Brooke had a tense moment with Mike, when it sounded as if he was suggesting shooting John, but he was really defending keeping the boy alive and figuring out how to transport him safely. It was decided that he would be tied down in the back of the cargo van, in hopes that Sanctuary would have some mental health professional who could help him.
After the meeting, as the group was going around the community gathering the residents for the meeting, several people noticed a small horde of shamblers coming out of the woods behind the farm house side of the community. The group quickly took up defensive positions, along with Michael and James, to meet the walkers before they made it into town. During the battle, Trip and several of the others began to make their way to the farm house to check on the kids.
The battle was fierce, but in the end, the shamblers were all destroyed, though they did get close enough to get a hold on Michael, and almost bit him, but he managed to get away at the last second. Bryce waded directly into a group of the things, going after them with two knives and savage kicks to their heads. Caitlin took out the remaining one threatening Bryce, flashing him a smile as she did so that seemed to forgive the events of the previous night. Mike returned the favor moments later when one of the things moved in on her. She also turned and gave Mike a smile that conveyed appreciation for his marksmanship. Mike was really starting to like Caitlin.
Trip, the first one to arrive at the farm house as the battle was coming to an end, found his friend David Norris motionless on the floor in the living room. He didn’t show any signs of being shot or cut, and he had a pulse, so Trip checked out the house. He found that the children, all of them, were missing. So was Jeff. He also found a note from Jeff. The note said that Jeff was convinced that this place was a death trap and that most of them were crazy, so he was taking the children to the military base, where they would be safer with the base’s defenses and well-armed occupants.
When Bryce, Caitlin, and Tim discovered that their children, along with Cathy Cardile, were missing, they were enraged, and immediately started planning to get to the military base and recover the children. Inflicting a horrible death on Jeff would be a bonus.
TO BE CONTINUED…