Beyond the Sea

Season 2, Episode 10
The Fall of Sanctuary

Season 2, Episode 10

New Cast Member:
Alec Montgomery – A former police officer and SWAT captain who has been stuck in Sanctuary.

As the group made their trek back through the sewers to the entrance in the ruins of the flower shop, Trip, who was left there to help guard the escape route, noticed the remaining brutes that had been lurking on rooftops nearby seemed to pull back and disappear into the night. Those who were left behind at Sanctuary noticed the same phenomenon at about the same time.

The group returned to Sanctuary and was greeted by Dr. Alicia Stone, who was there to treat any wounded and get them to the clinic. After treating Dallas, Dr. Stone had a number of questions for the group. She postulated her theory to them that the creatures were not actually dead, but instead a completely different species. She expressed her desire for more subjects for study purposes, and Mike volunteered that he would gather “test subjects” for her.

Mike’s offer prompted a glare from Caitlin. Since Jeff’s death at the hands of the raiders back at Fort Smith, Caitlin had been finding solace in Mike’s arms… and bed. Caitlin lashed out at Mike. She had lost her entire family already. Mike was the only thing she had left to live for and she didn’t want to lose him. Mike informed her that he was NOT Jeff and would not be controlled in that way. He told her they were all dead anyway and the only thing they could choose anymore was how they went. Better to do it in the pursuit of a cure than hiding from the inevitable somewhere. As the argument wound down, it was decided that Trip and Morrison would go to the clinic and inform Fabiana that her husband was dead, and then go to inform the parents of the lost children. Before they could leave, the alarms started going off.

Looking around at the brightly illuminated perimeter fence, which still wasn’t fully repaired from the previous attack the night before, revealed hundreds, maybe thousands of the hulking brutes at the forefront of a veritable army of the living dead. They were testing the perimeter for the weak spots and concentrating their efforts on bringing the fence down at those points. Morrison started barking out orders and Sanctuary’s defenses came to life, with gun emplacements, tanks and Humvees aiming their weapons at the tide of creatures at the gates. Alejandro and several other members of his team ran to their armored RV and swung it around so the side-mounted guns could be brought to bear on the enemy. The chaos was increased by the roar of engines from above Sanctuary. Two helicopters were seen taking off from the roof of the UniMed high rise. Mike considered taking shots at them, but opted to save his bullets for the battle ahead.

Sensing the futility of the situation at hand, the group decided it would be a good time to gather the rest of their group and make an escape. Waylon, Trip, and Allison decided to head for the UniMed building to see if there were any more helicopters on the roof. Mike and Caitlin went to gather the rest of the group, including the children, Kimmy and Samantha.

After fighting their way to the UniMed building, Waylon, Trip, and Allison made it to the secure doors that blocked the third floor, where some of UniMed’s security personnel had set up a choke point. They were almost shot there, until Waylon got the attention of the men blocking the stairway above them. They learned that, though some generator power was still operable, much of the building was dark, and some of UniMed’s more covert experiments were in control of some parts of the tower above. The small group of security officers were fighting enemies from above and below. Abandoning their plan to look for a helicopter, and reassured by the security team that there were none remaining on the roof, Waylon, Trip, Allison, and several security officers made their way to what served as Sanctuary’s motor pool enclosure. The group’s vehicles were there and would be needed. Thomas had spent most of his time in Sanctuary making sure they were in good running order, so they felt certain they would be ready to go, and hoped to find Thomas there.

As Mike and Caitlin approached the building housing the rest of their group, they were greeted by the sight of Waylon’s dog, Maggie, leading the children towards them. Nearby, the remnants of Morrison’s small army were attempting to gather for a retreat, Morrison’s now familiar voice barking orders and trying to secure the small area. His men had several tanks and Humvees gathered, but the scene was utter chaos in every direction. The living dead, the citizens of Sanctuary, and Morrison’s men were all fighting each other. The group had seen atrocities committed by all sides, and had fought for their lives just to get here.

Alejandro’s RV joined the small column of vehicles just before Waylon, Trip, and Allison arrived with the group’s RV, panel truck, and Humvee. Morrison ordered his men to load up and told the group they needed to get out of here now, and not try to be heroes or they’d all be dead. Waylon argued that they had a responsibility to save as many people as possible. There was a brief argument but, sensing that time was running out, Morrison told Waylon he was sending them all to their death, and allowed fleeing citizens to take all extra seats in the vehicles.

There was far too much chaos and far too little time to account for who was with the convoy and who wasn’t, but Trip did notice that Fabiana was not with them. He pled his case that she was the most knowledgeable doctor about this mess, outside of maybe Dr. Stone, that he knew, and that she needed to be accounted for. Dr. Stone had last seen her at the clinic with Brook’s body, so Alejandro turned his RV and headed back through the gauntlet to the clinic, where his team rescued Fabiana, secured Brook’s body, and joined the end of the convoy as they began their retreat from the fallen city.

TO BE CONTINUED…

View
Season 2, Episode 9
The Prodigal

Once Waylon got the women calmed down enough to tell him what happened, he couldn’t stand by while the creatures ran off with their kids. It didn’t matter that he’d never met them and would likely never see them again, even if they ever got out of Sanctuary alive, he just couldn’t walk away from their pain and the knowledge that these things had their children, for whatever purpose. Morrison and Alejandro, who had joined him when they heard the commotion, quickly decided to assemble their teams while Waylon gathered anyone in his group who wanted to come along. They were to meet at the forward staging area, near the front gates of Sanctuary.

After Waylon explained the situation, and made it known that he would be going even if he had to go alone, Bryce, Trip, Mike, Alison, Brooke, and Caitlin decided to join Waylon. The remainder of the group, along with several of Morrison’s men, would stay behind and guard Kimmy and Samantha. At the forward staging area, Morrison handed out Kevlar vests, extra ammunition, and night vision sets to everyone. In addition to Waylon’s group and Alejandro’s team, Morrison would be bringing about sixteen of his men, along with six Unimed dogs and their handlers. Also, another resident of Sanctuary, a self-proclaimed “survivalist” from the nearby countryside who claimed himself to be an experienced tracker, had overheard the plans and decided to join them. Once outside the gates, they would split into three teams, and begin a search for the missing children.

Outside the gates, in the deserted urban canyons of Fort Smith, the three teams split up and left the relative safety of Sanctuary behind. Alejandro’s team and two dogs and handlers set off in one direction, A group of Morrison’s men, also with two dogs and handlers, took another direction, and Waylon, Bryce, Trip, Mike, Alison, Brooke, Caitlin, the survivalist, Morrison, and the final pair of dogs and handlers took yet another direction.

It wasn’t long before the tracker spotted a child’s shoe that looked recently dropped. The dogs picked up the scent and, within a couple of blocks, another shoe was found. It went on like that for quite a few blocks. The group followed a spotty “breadcrumb trail” of children’s clothing and personal effects, while the night vision goggles revealed groups of the huge creatures who had attacked Sanctuary, the things Morrison called Ragers, trailing them along the roof tops. Waylon marveled at the intelligence of the children, to leave such a clever trail for them to follow. Bryce marveled at the intelligence of the creatures, to lure them into such a clever trap.

After quite a few more blocks and dropped items, the trail seemed to end near an open manhole cover near a burned out McDonald’s. As the group approached the opening, the creatures were suddenly everywhere. The fast undead poured out of nearby alleys and side streets, while the huge Ragers leapt down from nearby rooftops. Their first thought was to seek safety in the open manhole, but the night vision goggles revealed the sewer below to be filled with the fast undead, waiting for something tasty to drop through the opening above.

The group was far too spread out to make effective use of tactics. Several individuals or small groups were cut off by the dozens of creatures who had converged on the group, affirming Bryce’s suspicions that they were being led into a trap. Each of them fought bravely. Bryce was a dervish of hands and feet, as his martial arts training took over. He took out several of the things on his own, but suffered several wounds from the crushing fists and claws. Trip threw his Molotov cocktails into the sewer opening to keep the things down there from climbing the ladder and joining the fray. He also tried to keep as many of the things back as he could with his flaming cocktails. Alison ran for the cover of the nearby building fronts and from there, picked her targets and rushed in with her fire axe, still the one from the cruise ship, to inflict as much damage as possible. She was also wounded in the fierce fight. Morrison, along with Mike and Caitlin, used their guns to great effect, pouring round after round into the things, killing many. Several of the Ragers converged on Caitlin and cut her off, wounding her as well. One of the dogs was overwhelmed with the things, as was his handler. Waylon blasted away with his shotgun, trying to keep the area around him clear of the things. The fighting was worst in the rear of the group, where a large number of the Ragers cut off their means of escape. Brooke was there, not far from Caitlin, and blasted away with her 9mm pistol, until the things overran her position. The battle was looking desperate, and likely would have been lost, if not for the team of Morrison’s men who responded to the sounds of battle, and formed a firing line as they approached the rear of the combat, advancing as they fired.

Morrison’s men advanced, firing into the mass of creatures at the group’s rear. An errant shot took out the remaining dog handler. As they advanced, they saw Brooke go down under the blows of a pair of the Ragers. They took them down, but too late. As the group and their rescuers mopped up the remaining creatures and began assessing their casualties, they approached where Brooke had been and lifted the two huge carcasses off her motionless form. Morrison’s men almost gave her a mercy headshot , but the groups yells to hold their fire gave them enough pause to stop them. They weren’t sure if Brooke was alive or dead, so Trip scouted around for a nearby car that could be made serviceable enough to get her body back to Sanctuary, and to Fabiana. If she was alive, she was going to need a lot of medical attention. Her once-beautiful body was crushed and mangled by the terrible fists and claws. Even if she was dead, Fabiana would want to use her suspected immunity to help in her quest for a vaccine. Brooke was loaded into the back of the car Trip found and the tracker, along with several of Morrison’s men, sped away, back towards Sanctuary.

After treating the other wounded, the group’s rescuers told Morrison and the others about how they had seen a group of the horrid creatures disappear into the ruins of a florist shop a few blocks away. Several of them were carrying the missing children, and the men could hear their cries, as the things carried them through a hole in the floor and leapt into the darkened sewer tunnels below. After regrouping with Alejandro’s team, they converged on the shop and found a gaping hole in the floor where the things had disappeared. With the night vision, they could see that the tunnel floor was almost forty feet below. They once again divided into teams and started looking for things they could use to climb, along with alternate entrances into the sewers nearby.

Alejandro’s team found a manhole about a half-block away, but nobody liked the idea of being attacked while climbing down a ladder in a narrow hole. Waylon and Trip found an industrial laundry, and gathered several laundry carts filled with sheets. They brought these back to the flower shop and began tying them together to form a makeshift ladder to the tunnel floor below.

The hole in the shop floor was wide enough to give those above a field of fire to cover those climbing down or in the tunnels below. Waylon tied off one of the laundry carts and lowered it to the floor first, with the remaining Unimed dog and their heavier gear. Then, the group began climbing down, leaving Trip and several of Morrison’s men at the top and bottom of the access point to keep secure the exit in case of a retreat. Unfortunately, there was some trial and error with the makeshift sheet ladder, and several were injured in falls to the tunnel floor.

Once the group was assembled in the sewers once again, Mike moved to the front of the group, staying well ahead of everyone else. He could hear the cries of the children echoing through the dark, dripping labyrinth of passages ahead. He was quiet, and a decent tracker, so he stayed well ahead of the others, and guided them forward through hand signals.

After what seemed like an eternity in the damp, dark tunnels, Mike rounded a bend in the tunnel and came to a stop. Ahead of him, in a sewer junction chamber, dozens of the creatures were gathered. They were just standing there, swaying in that near-trance state they had seen a couple of times lately. There were the familiar Shamblers, along with the Fast undead, and a number of the Ragers as well. On one side of the room stood a group of children, some of whom Mike had met first in these same sewers only a few days ago. One of them was Brandon, the grandson of Breckenridge, and seemingly the leader of these children who appeared to be allied with the living dead. As he watched, one of the children missing from Sanctuary stood from behind some pump mechanism in the chamber. He was covered in blood and filth and had obviously risen as one of the walking dead. They were killing the children.

Mike moved silently back to the main group and told him what he had seen in that chamber of horrors up ahead. The group devised a plan to let Waylon walk up, as non-threatening as possible, and try to talk to Brandon and the other children, who seemed to be in charge of the scene. He would try to determine if any of the children were alive, and try to negotiate with Breckenridge’s grandson. When, not if, things turned sour, Waylon would lead anything that attacked him back around the bend in the tunnel to a choke point. As soon as he gave the okay, Waylon would hit the deck and the front rank would open fire. Neil Russell, one of Alejandro’s men, set up a Barrett .50 on its mount in the tunnel. When the front rank needed to reload, they would move back behind the second rank, who would also open fire. When that rank needed to reload, the third rank, consisting of close-quarters fighters like Bryce, Alison, Terry, and Chinelo, would move forward and clean up the remaining resistance. With the plan ready, Waylon moved forward.

Waylon approached the room and addressed Brandon, asking him to let the kids from Sanctuary go. Brandon started talking craziness about the dead being the future of the world and that the kids were now beyond their pain and suffering. As he finished his crazy-talk, the things moved forward to attack, with the fast ones in the lead. Waylon backed up toward the choke point, and the plan started to go into action.

It has been said that the first casualty of battle is the plan, and that proved to be the case here in the tunnels under Fort Smith. First, Neil opened up with the Barrett before Waylon could hit the deck, deafening him, and the others, in the narrow confines of the sewer tunnel. The huge shells tore into the front ranks of the undead, but their passage nearly ripped Waylon off his feet. With no hearing, no equilibrium, and with his head on fire, Waylon was helpless as the things advanced on him.

Bryce, fearing for Waylon’s safety, jumped out ahead of his rank of close-quarters fighters and moved up to form a new line on Waylon’s position. They could no longer hear anything, not even the dozens of shots whizzing by them, or the booming of Waylon’s shotgun as he fired wildly, just trying to keep them off him. As Waylon moved back, trying to stick to the plan, Bryce held his ground, trying to give Waylon time to get safely behind the now retreating firing line. When Waylon, now behind the firing line, realized that Bryce was still out there, he rushed back out, barely on his feet, his vision swimming, and tried to drag Bryce back into position before the plan fell apart and they were overrun. Instead, Bryce resisted. Waylon, unwilling to let him die alone, stayed behind.

In a blur of bodies, teeth, and claws, the things were surging around Bryce and Waylon. The remaining Unimed dog gave its life defending them, and finally Bryce realized what was happening and moved back into position, Waylon beside him, just as the wave broke on the choke point.

The chaos in that tunnel of death was maddening. Flashes of silent gunfire lit up the night vision incessantly as waves of the creatures hit the front line at the choke point and broke. The mound of bodies soon became an obstacle itself. One of Alejandro’s team, Dallas, went down under the claws of one of the Ragers. Caitlin was hit by “friendly fire” from somewhere behind her. Suddenly, the tide seemed to turn.

One second, the choke point was all teeth and claws and huge bodies, and the next, it seemed the only things that remained were the Shamblers. These enemies were the known. They weren’t fast. They weren’t huge. They just shambled forward, teeth gnashing, trying to bite anything they could sink their teeth into. Also, they now seemed directionless. Sure enough, a quick glance into the junction room ahead revealed that Brandon and the other “sewer children” were gone. Bryce moved forward to clean up the remaining Shamblers, fists and feet flying, but he moved alone. Nobody else broke from the choke point. Bryce made it about seven or eight yards out before he was surrounded. He took several of the things down, as did bullets from the line behind him, but there were just too many of them. Eight or nine of the things surrounded him and brought him down, just a few yards short of a first down away from the rest of the group. They moved forward, several of Morrison’s men in the lead, because they it was their rotation in the firing line, but they couldn’t get there in time. As they moved forward and finished off the last of the walking dead, firing single shots into their brainpans to make sure they didn’t get back up, they came across Bryce’s body. He was ripped up pretty badly. He hadn’t become one of them yet, so Mike moved forward and put a bullet through his head. They found the bodies of the children in the junction room, those that hadn’t risen and joined the ranks of the undead yet, and gave them merciful head shots. Then, Dallas was checked and treated, he was still alive, at least, and the group began the solemn trek back to what was left of the world above.

To Be Continued…

View
Season 2 , Episode 8
Ain't No Rest For the Wicked

The group, medical exams complete, were recovering from their wounds, exhaustion, and exertion. Morrison sought out Trip and asked him to serve as a liason between him and the group. He assigned Trip the task of bringing food to the group, which he assured them contained no human meat, and actually contained no meat at all, since most of the meat Sanctuary had been receiving was from the outlying survivor communities like Snyder Farms, in exchange for other supplies. After everyone ate, they slept a deep, restful sleep.

Waylon was recovering from his surgery, with Trip, and Maggie, Waylon’s faithful canine companion, at his side. Kimmy and Samantha were recovering from their wounds and trauma, and Brooke was also gaining strength, though she showed little cooperation with Fabiana and Dr. Stone.

Unfortunately, Barbara and Cathy both spiraled downhill, eventually succumbing to the virus. Mike stayed by Caitlin’s side through the entire ordeal, seeing her both at her hardest and softest. Michael also began to lose his battle. His arm was just amputated too late to do any real good in stopping the spread of the virus. He did give Fabiana permission, through Trip, to study his death and the effects of the virus, but asked Trip to put him down before he became “one of those things.” Trip and Fabiana respected his wishes and still learned much about the spread of the virus and its progression to mortality. Fabiana also traded some information with Dr. Stone about the virus. She had apparently done much research on the virus in her role with UNIMED.

On a foray outside the medical center and away from Waylon’s bed side, Trip noticed a heavily armored RV arrive at Sanctuary and saw four of the children from the sewers unloaded and escorted into the medical center. He warned the soldiers and Morrison that keeping the children in Sanctuary was a bad idea, but his arguments were to no avail. The team from the RV seemed to be some kind of misfit strike force led by a man named Alejandro Cortes.

After the survivors were released from the medical center, they met with Amanda Waller and were processed into Sanctuary, receiving the standard UNIMED sales pitch, food and clothing vouchers, and temporary housing in a converted pharmacy.

On their fourth day in Sanctuary, a UNIMED representative came to their quarters with several soldiers and demanded that Brooke, Kimmy, and Samantha be turned over to him immediately. Morrison came to the pharmacy at a run, knowing that Parker’s Hummer pulling up out front meant nothing but trouble. Guns were again drawn, and Morrison and several of his men seemed to be ready to throw their lot in with the group when the alarms began going off and voices cut through the air from Morrison’s radio that the East Gate was under attack.

The group quickly ran to join the defenses, with Bryce, Tim, David, Heidi, and Maggie remaining behind to guard the kids. Outside, they found that dozens of the huge brutes were charging the gate. Objects were being thrown through the fencing atop the concrete walls, and the things were paying no heed to the razor wire as they scaled the barricades.

Soldiers were rushing to defend the perimeter. Tanks and Humvees were deploying their heavy weapons against the things. Many of them were being cut down, but for every one that fell, several more took its place.

The group contributed to the defense of Sanctuary, taking out their share of the things. Trip used his Molotovs and a few grenades Morrison had given him from his vantage point on the roof of an old restaurant. Brooke and Thomas commandeered a Humvee and entered the fray. Alison and Caitlin ran to the medical center only to find the things surging up out of the basement and overrunning the building.

Fabiana, Trip, and Waylon were alerted to a number of the things pouring out of a manhole near the pharmacy where the kids were being guarded. Maggie, Bryce, Tim, and the others were holding them off. Trip began launching his explosives at the manhole and those things emerging from it. Maggie was running around barking her fool head off, snapping at the things, and seemingly directing Trip’s “air support” to its targets.

As suddenly as the attack began, the things began to pull back and disappear into the night. The group’s children were safe, but Alison and Caitlin learned that the four children from the sewers were taken from the medical center. It seemed the entire objective of the attack was to secure those children, and abduct the other kids as well. Breckenridge was apparently in control of these things as much as he was the other walking dead. Now, he had an entire army of foul creatures at his disposal.

As Sanctuary began to repair its defenses, count its losses, and treat the wounded, Waylon heard the sound of women screaming and crying a few blocks away. He and Maggie rushed over to find out what happened, joined by Morrison, Alejandro, and several others. The women, survivors who had been in Sanctuary for over a month now, were wailing that the things… those beasts, had stolen their children. They were housed in a converted business a few blocks away and the things had come in and taken their kids before running off into the night when the things retreated. They didn’t escape into the sewers, instead scaling the wall with three kids and running off down a side street outside the fence.

TO BE CONTINUED

View
Season 2, Episode 7
Cut To the Chase

The entire group began to run as fast as they could, with Morrison shouting encouragement and counting down the blocks to the gates of Sanctuary. Mike’s shot, and some well-placed Molotovs seemed to slow the pursuing things for a moment, so everyone gained some distance between themselves and these new monstrosities.

The group, some carrying children, was running flat out toward the gates of Sanctuary, but the distance just seemed too much with those things giving chase. They were huge, strong, and incredibly fast. Soon, way too soon, they started gaining ground on the fleeing, panicked group. Trip tossed Morrison’s M-16 back to him and kept running. He and Waylon fell back to the rear of the group. Soon, Bryvce joined them at the rear of the main group, and handed his daughter off to his wife, Fabiana. Bryce encouraged the main group to run faster, and he and Morrison kept them moving as Trip and Waylon searched for some way to hold them off and buy the group the time they needed to make it to the gates.

Trip used what Molotovs he had left, along with a grenade, to slow the things down, but he and Waylon fell too far behind, let the things get too close. They started running again, each nearly pushing the other forward, running almost as one, shouting a mixture of insults and encouragement at each other. Trip seemed adept at sliding out of the way at the last moment, but Waylon wasn’t that slippery. One of the things finally caught up to him and raked him with razor sharp claws, bigger than most knives Waylon had seen in his myriad bar fights. The thing shredded Waylon’s abdomen, blood spraying out into the night, soaking Trip. Trip slid down into the gutter and wriggled into a storm drain as the things ran past. Finally, the rest of the group reached the gates and got clear of the tanks and machine guns, which then began to fire on the things. Huge searchlights were aimed at the beasts, sending them running off into the night.

One of the tanks fired up its engine and several of the group joined Morrison on the deck of the tank as it sped the few blocks to where Waylon lay bleeding. Morrison, Mike, and Fabiana pulled Waylon onto the deck of the tank and, using a med kit onboard, began to stabilize him, trying to stop the bleeding while he still had some blood left. Trip crawled out of the storm drain and onto the tank, as it reversed course quickly back to the safety of Sanctuary.

Back behind the walls and fences of Sanctuary, the group was rushed into a medical center. Inside, the group saw the bank of metal detectors and security devices with racks for confiscated weapons, and immediately stripped naked, tossed all of his clothing into a nearby plastic bin and begged them to get Waylon and Fabiana into a room as quickly as possible. Everyone was thoroughly searched, and all weapons were collected into the nearby racks for logging. Then, the rest of the group was separated for medical screening. Bryce refused to allow himself and his daughter, Kimmy, to be separated. Guns were drawn. Bryce was being held down by several soldiers as he struggled against them. The scene was about to turn ugly, when Trip re-emerged, still naked, and pleaded for calmer heads to prevail. Morrison took the initiative and told his men to stand down and allow parents to remain with their children. Mike nonchalantly slid in next to Caitlin and acted like he belonged with her and Barbara. She didn’t spoil his ruse, and the three of them stayed together.

Everyone in the group received a complete physical examination. The girls, Kimmy, Cathy, and Barbara had all been bitten. Kimmy and Samantha were fighting off the infection due to their immunity. Barbara and Cathy were fighting a losing battle, prolonged only by Fabiana’s injections of Brooke’s blood into their systems. Brooke was exhausted from having given so much blood in such a short time. After her physical, Alison went to Brooke’s side and stayed with her. Michael was also in bad shape. The blood he had received was from Kimmy, who was already fighting the virus when it was drawn. The doctors quickly decided to remove his arm to try to save him.

Fabiana met Dr. Alicia Stone, who was going to be doing emergency surgery on Waylon to repair the damage that had been done by the thing out in the street. She commented on the excellent emergency care Fabiana had given him while on a moving tank and invited Fabiana to scrub in and assist with the surgery as soon as her physical exam was complete.

The part of the group that was taken in separately – Thomas, Sean, Tim and Samantha, Heidi, David Norris, Sarah, and several others from Snyder Farms, were finshing with their processing and medical exams as the rest of their group entered. Thomas joined Brooke and Alison in the medical center. Samantha, who was also fighting off the effects of the virus, was still in the medical center recovering. Her father, Tim, was now at her side.

TO BE CONTINUED

View
Season 2, Episode 6
Innocence Lost

On the road to Fort Smith, Arkansas and this place called Sanctuary.

Fabiana drew blood samples in the RV and discovered Brooke’s blood type was O Negative. She carefully drew blood from Brooke and injected it into Barbara Murray and Cathy Cardile, hoping that the natural antibodies Brooke, Kimmy, and Samantha seemed to possess would at least slow the infection.

As they neared the city, James radioed up to the RV that he had established radio contact with Sanctuary and that they were instructed to take the Hwy 41 exit, which for some reason would be the last possible exit they could take, and turn right at the bottom of the ramp. They would find a salvage yard about a half-mile up on the right. Someone would be there to open the gate.

As the convoy neared the exit for Hwy 41, the group could see the outskirts of the city ahead. The overpass that was supposed to carry US 71 traffic over Hwy 41 was, as they had been told, impassable. The northbound lanes into the city had collapsed onto the highway below. The southbound lanes were clogged with wreckage and a line of abandoned vehicles that filled the highway as far as they could see in the rain and lightning. It looked like it stretched all the way into the city.

The condition of the highway was not the most disturbing thing they could see through the dark and rain. That honor went to the wall of living dead they could see in the distance. The RV and the rest of the eight vehicle convoy made the right turn on to Hwy 41. As they had been told, there was a salvage yard about a half-mile ahead on the right. Through the rain, they could make out a figure in a poncho pulling the gates back so the vehicles could enter. Here, they were closer to the wall of walking dead they glimpsed from the highway. The things just seemed to be standing there, moaning in unison. Their drone sounded like a didjeridoo. Occasionally, other walking dead, in groups or singly, would shamble out of the storm, approach the wall, and join its ranks. The line stretched off into the distance to either side. It looked to be at least a dozen bodies wide and stretched as far as they could see to the southwest and northeast. There was no getting through them. After the last of the vehicles pulled through the gates, the man in the poncho wheeled the rolling gate shut as several of the group ran out to help. In the distance, several of them could make out the howls of a large pack of dogs that seemed to be getting closer.

To those who had helped him close the gate, the man in the poncho introduced himself as Geoff McCurdy. His Ozark twang was quite pronounced as he told them to get everyone out of the vehicles and follow him to the drainage culvert at the back of the salvage yard. He warned them to be quick, so they could get out of the area before the dogs scented them. He seemed genuinely scared of these dogs, and intimated that they were more than just a feral pack; that they were trained “sniffer” dogs. Someone asked about the wall of zombies, and Geoff told them that they been standing like that for a while now, just moaning. Someone asked Geoff if they would attack people who approached and Geoff replied that nobody he knew had been stupid enough to try.

The group quickly gathered everyone and only the essential supplies from the vehicles and followed Geoff to the storm sewer in the culvert. Those who couldn’t walk were carried. The huge steel gate to the storm sewer was opened from the inside by another man, who Geoff introduced as his brother, Ian McCurdy. The two men were intrigued by Trip’s accent and asked if he was from Ireland, their “mother country.” Trip verified that he was, and walked at into the storm sewer at the rear of the group with Geoff, as Ian led them into the tunnels as the baying of the dogs drew closer.

On their trip into the storm sewers, Trip, Bryce, James, Mike, and others asked many questions about the men and their survivor community. The McCurdy brothers told of the dogs, trained and likely even genetically modified by a giant pharmaceutical conglomerate called UNIMED. Apparently, UNIMED ran a huge compound in the city, centered around their corporate headquarters. Apparently, they provided for the needs of all the “sheeple” there, but denied them any basic freedoms and “prob’ly used them for experiments or sumthin’.” The brothers told how UNIMED raided their camp constantly, capturing or killing their people. They told how UNIMED had captured most of the children from the camp, to use for “who knows what.” After a few hundred yards moving through the wet tunnels, the group came upon the sight of a huge tent city in a large chamber in the storm sewer. There were dozens of people living here, under the city.

James remarked to Bryce that this Sanctuary was not “as advertised.” Most of the group was very skeptical that this camp had been providing Snyder Farms and several other survivor communities with the amount and type of supplies they had been receiving. They conversationally asked the McCurdy’s some pointed questions about supplies and diesel fuel and other things. Geoff told the group that they didn’t keep those things down here at the camp, but since the dead had walked out of the city and joined that wall, the whole place, except what UNIMED controlled, was a giant supply dump, “ripe for the pickin’.”

Geoff and Ian set the group up in several large tents within the camp before Ian left to tend to other business and Geoff went to get the group some food. Trip and Mike went out into the camp to verify what the brothers had been telling them. The stories seemed to hold up based on their scouting and information-gathering run. Also, confirming the reports of UNIMED capturing the camp’s children, they found that there were no children under the age of 17 in the camp at all. When Geoff returned with stew for everyone, they found it delicious and devoured it ravenously.

Fabiana set the children up in a central tent, along with Brooke. The young lady, already too skinny before the outbreak, was exhausted from the amount of blood she had given. While they were moving the children, Fabiana and Bryce noticed that Michael was bleeding from his right hand. When Bryce asked what happened, Michael told him that he’d cut himself back at the base, while cutting the fence open to let the shamblers into the main part of the base. On closer examination, Fabaiana thought it looked an awful lot more like a bite mark than a cut from the fence. Michael admitted he had been bitten. Fabiana knew she couldn’t draw anymore blood from Brooke right now, so she asked Michael his blood type, which turned out to be AB Positive. Universal recipient. Excellent. They drew the blood from Kimmy instead and injected it into Michael, again hoping to at least slow the infection. They discussed cutting off part of his arm to see if that would stop the infection. Waylon was surprised to learn that the doctor had never tried that to save someone before. In the end, they decided it had been too long since the bite and let him keep the arm.

Bryce gathered Waylon and Mike and began discussing a trip back to the vehicles to make sure they were safe from the UNIMED thugs and dogs, and to gather more supplies. Trip advised that if they went back, UNIMED and their dogs would have either found the vehicles or not, and there was nothing they could do by going back, except possible attract attention to them. While this conversation was going on, there was a loud explosion back in the direction the group had entered from.

After the explosion, the camp began to erupt in panic. The chamber was filling up with gas. Waylon rushed into the gas to save as many people as he could. The McCurdy brothers were calling for people to run to the sound of their voices at the opposite side of the camp. In the darkness, they could hear dogs and see silhouettes of people running, of armed men firing weapons. Waylon, who was close in, and Trip, who had been on the receiving end before, recognized the muffled shots as beanbag rounds, or “less than lethal” ammo. There were smoke grenades and tear gas. Waylon also saw someone get tased. Trip grabbed a propane tank from the cooking area, knocked the valve off, and tossed it into the smoke, knocking down an armed man near Waylon. Seeing the man down, Waylon dove for his gas mask, but the man rolled out from under him and got away before Waylon could grab it. At some point, one of the propane tanks Trip was hurling exploded, causing the entire chamber to rumble. Chunks of concrete began raining from the ceiling, and it seemed like the entire chamber was going to collapse. Seeing retreat as their only opportunity, the group gathered the children as the armed men closed in and ran towards the tunnels where Geoff and Ian were leading the survivors. The McCurdy’s were splitting people up between several tunnels to make it harder for the UNIMED thugs to catch them all. In the darkness and smoke, the group got split up.

Bryce, Trip, Mike, Waylon, Fabiana, Alison, Caitlin, and Brooke, along with Bryce and Fabiana’s daughter Kimmy, and Cathy Cardile found themselves with Geoff McCurdy, running down a tunnel in the darkness. Trip called out on the walkie-talkie to the others and told them to establish radio silence. Alison was practically carrying Brooke, Bryce was carrying Kimmy, Caitlin was carrying Barbara, Waylon was carrying Cathy, and Trip was carrying a final propane tank. As they stopped to catch their breath, they began to hear the dogs in the tunnel behind them and started running again. Trip left his propane tank in the tunnel, and as they ran ahead of the rapidly approaching dogs, Bryce tossed a molotov at it right as the lead dogs approached it and the resulting explosion ripped into the dogs as the group began running again.

Trip, seemingly the fastest in the group, was leading the way, when he saw a child in the tunnel ahead. Seeing the child, Geoff McCurdy called out, “That’s Dakota Givens, he’s alive!” he mentioned to the group that Dakota was one of the kids captured by UNIMED. Trip, Caitlin and the others immediately ran after the boy, who sped off into the darkness of the tunnel. With the boy running right at the extent of Trip’s vision, he suddenly ran out of sight and the group quickly came upon a “T” intersection. Trip quickly figured out that the boy had turned left. Looking down the right fork of the intersection, the group could just make out the forms of more dogs approaching from that direction. They followed Dakota Givens down the left fork and saw an approaching horde of the living dead. There were a couple dozen of the things approaching, including a few of the fast ones. Suddenly, the boy, Dakota, ran into the right wall of the tunnel and disappeared.

When Trip reached the spot where the boy had disappeared, he found a small access door embedded in the right-hand wall of the tunnel. With the moans and reaching arms of the living dead in front of them, and the barks, howls, and sharp teeth of the dogs behind them, the group ran to the door and managed to get through and get it shut just as the undead things reached it, pulling the last person through just as the horde arrived and slamming it shut.

Trip continued after the boy, and entered a chamber where he instinctively felt that something wrong was going on, so he hit the floor shoulder first and rolled to the side just in time to avoid a net that dropped from the ceiling. In the darkness, he could see the boy, Dakota, along with about seven other children, none older than eleven or twelve. Behind the kids stood a row of about a dozen shamblers, with more in the tunnel beyond the room.

The rest of the group entered the chamber and saw the kids and the shamblers and stopped. One of the boys, a larger kid about twelve years old stepped forward and said, “Hello, Mr. McCurdy.”

Geoff fell to his knees and called out, “Brandon Russo, you’re alive!” He was genuinely surprised.

Brandon told the group that the undead in the chamber and beyond are the children’s friends. Bryce and several others, looking out into the tunnel beyond the room, notice a familiar looking face, though one that has been changed somewhat by death and reanimation since they last saw the man. It was none other the captain of the mercenaries who had boarded the cruise ship back when this thing first started, John Breckenridge. The group had last seen Breckenridge back in Beaufort during the decoy supply run they had been forced into by Hell Feurrie and his Ghost Riders. He seemed to have an “honor guard” of the things around him and seemed to be in charge of them somehow.

Breckenridge, whom Brandon identified as “Grandpa Breckenridge” seemed to be able to not only communicate with and control the other living dead here through some form of telepathy, which Brooke and Kimmy could also “feel” but also to be able to communicate with his grandson, Brandon, through grunts and gestures.

Brandon told the group the story of how, when the McCurdy’s had run out of food for the camp, they had begun stealing the camp’s children and using them as a food source, telling the rest of the camp that UNIMED had taken them. Caitlin immediately began throwing up, retching violently as she choked out, “The stew…” Several others also began to bring up that recent meal onto the floor of the chamber.

Breckenridge grunted again, turned and shuffled off down the tunnel, with his honor guard of shamblers accompanying him into the darkness, leaving the children and the dozen or so shamblers in the chamber, who began to sway rhythmically back and forth. Fabiana noticed that Kimmy and Brooke had also begun to sway in a similar fashion.

Brandon told them that it was time for their revenge on Geoff and that they would find Ian soon enough. As the group backed away from Geoff McCurdy, Bryce kicked him hard, knocking him unconscious. Then, the shamblers moved in on him and began to tear him apart, leaving only his head, which soon reanimated. Bryce and Alison held Kimmy and Brooke back from the carnage, as they tried to advance, as if they were compelled to take part in it. After the things were finished with Geoff McCurdy, Brandon told the group not to follow him, and the kids moved off into the tunnels, with the shamblers blocking any attempts at following the children, through they didn’t seem to indicate any violence toward the group if they left the kids alone.

Trip broke radio silence and called for the rest of the group. A voice came over the radio telling them the rest of the group was safe above ground. UNIMED had them. By now, the sounds of the battle between the dogs and the walking dead out in the main tunnel had ended, and was replaced by the sound of footsteps. Mike cracked the access door open a a tiny bit and saw soldiers walking among the carnage, finishing off the zombies and putting any wounded dogs out of their misery. Trip lit a molotov as Mike shoved open the door enough for Trip to toss it against the ceiling, raining flaming alcohol on several of the soldiers as Mike prepared to open fire with his M-16.

As the soldiers also drew weapons, the man who appeared to be in charge yelled for everyone to “STAND DOWN!” And ordered his men to hold their fire. Mike held his fire and ordered the soldiers to drop their weapons. Their leader set his weapon down and backed away from it, with his hands in the air. His men soon did the same, as members of the group came out to collect their weapons. The leader introduced himself as Command Sgt. Major William Morrison, formerly of the US Army, most recently stationed at Fort Chaffee, now working with UNIMED to guard their compound here in Fort Smith. He told Mike that the rest of their companions, including a girl named Samantha, a Marine named Thomas, and a huge Scotsman named Sean, were now safe in their compound on the surface. Morrison offered to lead them to their friends, which the group accepted.

On the walk through the tunnels to the ladder they would use to reach the surface, Morrison told the group that the UNIMED compound was called Sanctuary and that The McCurdys had gotten one of their Humvees with a radio, which they found in the salvage yard, along with their dead men, before they raided the camp. The group was confused when they learned that Sanctuary was the UNIMED camp, and not the camp in the sewers, but things became clear as they put it all together. Morrison confirmed that some members of the Snyder Farms community were indeed “topside” at Sanctuary right now and that they had indeed been supplying them for weeks now, along with several other outlying survivor communities, along with the offer that they could evacuate to Sanctuary if necessary.

When they reached the top of the ladder, they were met with several other armed men from the UNIMED compound, and Morrison asked Mike, who appeared to be the leader of the group, if his men could have their weapons back to help protect them from any threats as they walked the few blocks to Sanctuary. Morrison offered to stay unarmed as a gesture of trust, and they set off down the deserted, ruined street toward the bright lights of Sanctuary that could be seen in the distance.

As they walked toward safety, the group noticed the heads of several of the undead things mounted on poles and whole bodies of the things nailed to telephone poles along the street. Morrison told them it was bait to draw their leader out into the open. The group told Morrison that they had met the leader in the sewers, which stopped Morrison in his tracks. They told Morrison about Breckenridge, former special ops, mercenary, excellent with tactics, and that there were some kids down there, including Breckenridge’s grandson, Brandon. This explanation made clear to Morrison why the things had been using advanced tactics against his men.

As they resumed their walk toward the safety of Sanctuary, a roar echoed off the buildings behind them, followed by several more in quick succession, seeming to answer the first. Morrison looked around at the group and his men, real fear in his eyes, and yelled for them to RUN!

As they ran, Mike, ever the curious one, kept stealing glances over his shoulder, hoping to catch sight of whatever had made such an inhuman sound. Brooke was nearly in shock at this point, and Alison was practically carrying her. She seemed to be losing it again, her sanity cracking. Mike caught sight of a huge, muscled arm as something slid an abandoned car out of the way and grabbed one of the UNIMED soldiers, yanking him behind the car. As the group ran as fast as their legs would allow, the top half of the soldier landed on the ground in the middle of the group, with a loud “splat” and a spray of blood and guts. Mike could now see that they were being chased by at least a half-dozen of the things. They were huge, at least 8 to 12 feet tall, well muscled, almost like big mutant gorilla-men, but not hairy.

The first one tossed the car it had dragged the soldier behind, as if it were a trash can. Another of the things flung a manhole cover like a frisbee, cutting another of the soldiers nearly in half with the flying piece of steel. Mike stopped running for a moment and took aim at the closest one, pointing the barrel of his M-16 right between the thing’s eyes from less than 30 feet away. He squeezed off a burst and hit the thing exactly where he was aiming, putting the bullets right between the eyes. The thing stopped, obviously affected by the shots, then slowly reached up and touched the wounds, feeling the blood, sniffing it, then it blinked, shook its head, and resumed the chase!

TO BE CONTINUED

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Season 2, Episode 5
Suffer the Children

After discovering Jeff and the children missing from the farm house, and reading his note, the group decided to go out after them. Dr. Winters, Trip, Sarah, David Norris, and Heidi stayed behind to pack the group’s gear and assist “Father” Kenneth in getting the community prepared to evacuate to Sanctuary as soon as the group returned from the military base. After James and Michael outlined what they knew about the base, the group that was going prepared to leave Snyder Farms. They would be using one of the community’s pick-up trucks and the one working truck they had recovered from the raider attack. As they were loading the trucks, Harry Ross and 8 others, including Ben Cooper and his parents, drove up in Harry’s Wagoneer and told James and Michael that they were leaving. The group allowed them to leave, though James hated seeing their entire supply team abandon like that.

Bryce, Mike, Thomas, Brooke, Alison, Sean, James, Michael, Caitlin, and Tim loaded into the two pickup trucks and drove the 6 miles back to the main road, where they hid the trucks in the woods and decided to hike the rest of the way to Fort Chaffee. The clouds were rolling in a rain was beginning to fall. They made about four miles on foot, staying in the woods whenever possible and avoiding roads, the rain now a heavy downpour, when they heard the sounds of an engine up ahead. They all took cover as the Apache flew low overhead, slowed to a stop and came back to hover over them, shining its lights directly on several of them for about 20 seconds before speeding off in the direction the group had come from. They immediately decided to move a couple of miles in a parallel direction before continuing on towards Fort Chafee.

About 2 miles away from the base, the group spotted a Humvee through the trees. It was canted into a ditch on the side of a dirt road and looked abandoned, until Sean, Caitlin, Mike, and Alison moved up and saw the dead things trapped inside. They almost left it alone, but then decided to loot it for supplies. Sean moved up and used Bryce’s crossbow to take out the thing in the driver’s seat, while Alison moved around the front of the Humvee. Automatic weapons fire immediately erupted from the trees ahead, stitching a pattern across the dirt road next to Alison, and barely missing Sean, instead spraying the windshield of the Humvee and ripping into the walker Sean had just dispatched. Sean immediately took cover behind the engine block and left front tire of the Humvee as the group, with night vision goggles, returned fire on their attackers. All three of them were taken out quickly.

Searching the bodies of the raiders, a teddy bear was found on one of them that was the same one Barbara had been holding the night before. Caitlin cursed that they had killed the men and repeatedly stabbed the corpse of the raider who was carrying the bear. Listening over the radio in the Humvee, the group could hear chatter about the people in the woods that had been seen by the Apache and that several teams had been sent out to find them. They could also tell from the radio chatter that the men at Fort Chaffee were not trained military in any way and that their efforts were not well coordinated. During the firefight, Caitlin had made an incredible shot to take out one of the raiders, so Mike asked her about what she “really” did before the outbreak. He had also seen the shot she had made back at Snyder Farms to take out a walker that was too close to Bryce, and he knew she wasn’t a “stay at home mom” no matter what she said. Caitlin admitted that not only was her father a Pittsburgh cop, which the group already knew, but she was a S.W.A.T captain in the city before the outbreak. That explained a LOT. After looting the Humvee and the bodies, the group moved on.

Before they saw the base, the group could hear the Disturbed’s “Down With the Sickness” and other music being blared over loudspeakers as throngs of people partied in the rain. There was a makeshift motorcycle track set up to the side of the main gate and motorcycle races were currently being held in the mud and rain. There were also obvious guards armed with automatic weapons stationed about every 60 feet in this area, with stationary gun emplacements about every 120 feet. Lights and bonfires could be seen all over the complex, and the whole thing was brightly lit, with huge spotlights everywhere and searchlights scanning the 12 foot high razor-wire topped fence. The lights also illuminated a number of tall poles, arranged in pairs, that each held a body strung between them. One of the bodies was Jeff Murray. He wasn’t moving, so he either wasn’t quite dead or hadn’t yet turned into one of those things. Caitlin spat and her disdain for her husband was shared by the rest of the group. Curious about the rest of the facility, the group decided to make a circuit of the base, being careful to keep their distance and stay out of sight. Eventually, the group came to a hill on the side of the base that had another fence running along it. This interior fence was holding back throngs of the living dead, many in military uniforms. The back side of the base was left to the dead and unlit.

As they were finishing their recon, a patrol of two men came by the group about 40 feet away. Mike, Caitlin, Alison, and Sean snuck up behind the pair while Brooke ran in from the front, with her weapon tucked into her pants at the small of her back. Her t-shirt was clinging to her figure because of the soaking rain, and she breathlessly asked the men for help. As she did so, the others jammed guns into their backs and dragged them into the trees nearby.

Brooke asked the men where the children were and what was the best way to get into the base unseen. She really turned on the charm, and the weapons digging into their skin didn’t hurt either. The men revealed that the kids were being kept in “B” Barracks, which was where prisoners were kept until they were no longer useful. The men admitted that the best place to get inside was to find a way through the fence as close to the walking dead enclosure as possible, since none of the men wanted to go near it unless they had to. Mike made a mental note that the men weren’t wearing any formal uniform outside of tattered cast-off BDU’s scrounged from the base, nor were they wearing an insignia or other identifying markings. This meant that once they got onto the base, it would be more easy to pass themselves off as belonging there, if they looked the part. After the brief interrogation, Thomas asked the group what they wanted to do with the men. Caitlin slit one’s throat before Thomas had even finished speaking, so he did the same with the other and they moved toward the fence.

Using bolt cutters found in the Humvee, the group cut into the fence near the zombie pen and moved inside. Bryce, Michael, James, and Tim would make sure the escape route stayed clear and be prepared to weaken the fence into the zombie pen as soon as they were ready to escape from the base. The rest of the group split into three pairs, thinking it best to look like couples in search of a quiet spot for some horizontal fun as they moved toward “B” Barracks. Mike and Caitlin, Sean and Alison, and Thomas and Brooke were the pairs.

About halfway to the barracks, Mike and Caitlin were walking around a corner when a pair of guys almost walked right into them. Guns were leveled for a tense moment, and the men asked them what they were doing. Mike replied that they were looking for a good place to fuck, and the two men asked if they could join. A single glance from Caitlin sent them on their way.

The three pairs finally came together near the barracks, which were arranged in a hexagonal pattern. The A, B, and C Barracks were still standing, though D, E, and F had apparently burned down, leaving the back of the hexagon open. The group could see the flames of bonfires and groups of tents off in the distance as they scouted the area.

Moving to the rear entrance to the “B” Barracks, Brooke easily picked the lock and gained entry. The interior was dark, with only minimal security lighting for illumination. Square holes had been cut into the doors, with chicken wire stapled over the holes. Scanning the makeshift cells, the group found four women tied to bunks, a single man in another room, and four of the five girls in the last room.

The lone man in the one cell started asking to be let out, but the group was hesitant to set any of the other prisoners free, wanting to release just the girls and get out. The man gave them some information about the guard movements and offered to share details of the place’s vehicular defenses and such, since he was being forced to repair things like tanks and helicopters for the occupants of the base during the day. He also told them when the girls were brought in and that a walker had been brought in as well. With this, and since Sean thought he looked VERY familiar to him, Mike let him out of his cell. Caitlin and Alison began checking over the four children in their cell down at the end of the hall. Barbara, Samantha, Kimmy, and Cathy Cardile were in there. There clothing was torn and they had been bitten on the legs by the teeth of a small zombie. The older two, Barbara and Samantha, were in the worst shape.

Hearing some moaning coming from what looked like a supply closet near the girls’ cell, Mike and Brooke opened the door and found Lina. She had a sack over her head, but was still recognizable by her tattered clothing. Caitlin’s youngest was no longer among the living and had been turned into one of the walking dead. With a heavy heart, Mike closed the door and he, Thomas, and Brooke joined Caitlin and Alison and the girls.

Thomas told everybody to move out, but Caitlin told him she wasn’t going anywhere until they found Lina. Thomas told her that she had been found, but was one of the things now. She demanded to see her. Thomas told her that he wouldn’t allow that. Caitlin cocked her shotgun and again demanded to see her daughter. Thomas stood his ground, saying that she didn’t want to see her that way. Caitlin asked if they at least had the decency to put her down, and when Thomas admitted that she hadn’t been put down, Caitlin became furious. She said she would be putting her down before they left and that was the end of the discussion. With little choice, Mike led her to the closet where Lina was trapped and opened the door. Caitlin went inside, removed the sack from her daughter’s head, holding the little girl’s hair to avoid a bite, and after a tearful goodbye, ended the girl’s unlife.

After finally deciding to release the rest of the prisoners and keep them with the group, they moved out of the barracks and back to their extraction team near where they had entered the base. As they were leaving the barracks, the newly freed Waylon told Mike that they needed to find his dog, Maggie. He also asked for a weapon to defend himself, though he understood if they didn’t trust him with one. Thomas told him they didn’t have time to find the dog, to which Waylon told them they had to, because he and the dog had a psychic link. Not sensing any hostility in Waylon, Mike handed him a shotgun and a few rounds. Once outside the barracks, a small bounding form ran out of the darkness and into Waylon’s arms. He had found Maggie, or rather, she had found him. “See, I told you we had a psychic link.”

The last thing they did before closing their entry point behind them was to weaken the fence enough to let the undead begin making their way through into the inhabited part of the base. As they watched the undead begin to move into the ranks of the living, Caitlin made a vow to return and make sure these evil men were wiped from the face of the earth.

The group carried the girls back to the Humvee and switched the radio over to the channel used by Snyder Farms in time to hear “Father” Kenneth calling for them over that frequency. When Brooke, riding shotgun, answered, he told her that they had been forced to abandon the community after it was attacked by a helicopter gunship. The Apache the group had seen on their way to the base. The whole place was now burning and they had gotten as many people as they could to safety. They quickly set a rendezvous point, retrieved the pickup trucks, and went to meet those that had managed to escape the community.

At the rendezvous point, the group met up with Trip, Fabiana, and the rest of their group. They had the RV and the panel truck. “Father Kenneth” had the 26 survivors of Snyder Farms loaded into the vehicles, which included 3 vehicles in addition to the panel truck and RV, and now the Humvee and two pickup trucks. John Cardile, Jr. was among those that weren’t able to be saved back at Snyder Farms.

Completely emotionally drained and nearly in shock, the group silently made their way toward Sanctuary after all of the children, under Fabiana’s close watch were moved to the RV. Fabiana needed desperately to save the girls. Though she hadn’t had the chance to do the research she wanted, she began to draw blood from Brooke, Samantha, and Kimmy, as best she could in the moving RV, and use the equipment salvaged from Dr. Lewis’ lab back at Pink Hill to get their blood types. She was hoping for a universal donor among those three, and counting on Brooke, Samantha, and Kimmy to actually be immune to not only the airborne version of the virus, but also to the infection from bites. If one of them was Type O negative, a universal donor, she would draw enough blood from them to begin to introduce the antibodies into the systems of the other girls.

Fabiana finally found what she was looking for on the road to a place called Sanctuary.

Brooke was O negative, a universal donor. Maybe there was hope for the girls after all.

TO BE CONTINUED

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Season 2, Episode 4
Loss

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

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Season 2, Episode 3
To Serve and Protect

The four horsemen raised their hunting rifles at the group. Thomas and Mike raised their weapons in response. Neither Brooke nor Bryce raised their weapons, as they were both aware of the dream that Brooke and the children had the night before.

The leader of the four men, James Caden, asked the group who they were and what they were doing. Bryce responded by asking is any of them were a police officer or a firefighter. After exchanging strange glances with his fellows, James replied that he was a firefighter, and that one of the other men, a bald man named Michael, was a police officer. James then asked Bryce how he knew this detail, to which Bryce responded, “Just a hunch, I guess.”

As introductions were made, the group noticed that the walkers nearby seemed to be heading down the road past them, towards the town or city that was off in the distance. James admitted that he and his people had been seeing this behavior for a few days already, in increasing numbers. He reckoned that their must be some food source or something drawing them in that direction. The group opted to trust these men with their predicament. Actually, Fabiana spilled the details of their vehicles back on the side of the road and the children and others left back at the walled subdivision. Upon hearing of the children, James invited the group to gather the others and accompany them back to their community of Snyder Farms.

Once the entire group was assembled, the men helped the children up onto the horses and the entire group walked the 6 miles to Snyder Farms. Upon arriving at the community, the group noticed several things. First, all of the houses had solar panels on the roofs, and there were a number of wind turbines placed throughout the small community. They walked past a small farm and numerous community gardens on the way into the community, and saw the residents gathering to watch their arrival. Those gathering did not seem hostile, just suspicious of the group.

James led the group to the steps of a large building that was front and center in the community. It seemed to be a combination church/community center. James and Michael introduced the man who came out of the building to greet the group as “Father Kenneth.” As the group would soon learn, “Father” Kenneth was not a Catholic priest, but still the community’s spiritual leader. The land once belonged to his family, and he had built the curch/community center to re-learn how to use his body after suffering severe wounds from an improvised explosive device he had encountered as a medic with the 101st Airborne in Iraq. As spiritual leader of the community, he found that it was easiest to assume the traditional priestly title of “Father” and wear the traditional Catholic priestly garments, though he ministered to all faiths, and the church included areas for the worship of several divine entities, including pagan shrines outside.

Several of the group asked if the community had any vehicles or diesel fuel to help them retrieve their vehicles that had been left several miles down the main road. James recommended that they use Harry Ross’ Wagoneer and that they could spare a couple of gallons of diesel from the tractor shed to get the vehicles to the community. As a few of the group members set off with James, Michael, and a somewhat intoxicated Harry Ross to do that, the rest of the group began taking HOT showers and settling in, while “Father” Kenneth defrosted a few more venison burgers from the large freezer downstairs.

They group was pleasantly shocked to learn that the town had functioning electricity and fresh well water. “Father” Kenneth also produced several personal hygiene kits with toothbrushes, toothpaste, sample packs of shampoo that looked like they’d been looted from a hotel, shaving razors, and all the necessities. They also found that there was a laundry room in the basement of the church where they could clean their clothes if they wanted, though most garments were so worn, they weren’t ever going to look much better.

The one thing the group was alarmed with was the lack of walls, though those had done precious little good for LeJeune or Pink Hill. All this place had were barbed wire fences, some ditches, and a gate across the road.

After the vehicles were brought into a community parking area, the group assembled for a dinner of venison burgers and fresh vegetables from the community gardens. Some of the members of the community introduced themselves, or were introduced. Thomas was excited to meet young Ben Cooper, who had been studying electrical engineering at the nearby University of Arkansas – Fort Smith before the outbreak. Fabiana was introduced to Alice Stillman, who was suffering from lymphoma, and had at most, six months to live. She quickly went to Mike, who was recently discovered to have been pilfering from the group’s meager drug supply, as well as getting drugs from elsewhere, to beg for some pain pills for Alice. She also asked Mike if he might be able to scrounge up some marijuana from somewhere for her. Mike later gave her a little of both and kept quiet about his sources. The group also learned that there were a few children in town.

After dinner, “Father” Kenneth offered them the old farmhouse at the edge of the community for the group to stay in during their time at Snyder Farms. It had once belonged to his grandparents and was still kept up as a guest house for the community. As they were settling in, Mike came by with some hunting rifles and asked if anyone would be up for hunting for more deer in the morning, since they would now use up the community’s supply more quickly. Several of the group offered to take him up on the offer.

The group was awakened in the morning by an argument between Jeff and Caitlin about the wisdom of going hunting with this “total stranger” or even staying at this place. Several of the group trudged up to the room and told them to keep it down, with a healthy dose of “Jeff, stop being an idiot” thrown in for good measure. After this, the hunting party departed.

During the hunting trip, the group came upon several walkers, and also bagged three deer. As they were hauling the deer up to be cleaned, the radio clipped to James’ belt came alive and one of the border guards told him, through much static, that the guys that had taken the nearby military base, Fort Chaffee, were incoming in several camo-painted pick-up trucks. With this warning, the weary James spread the warning. “Father” Kenneth shepherded all the non-combatant women, elderly, and children into the houses in the community’s inner ring, while the community’s combatants arrayed themselves in upstairs windows of the outer ring and other vantage points. When the group asked James what their plan was, James responded that they planned to kill the raiders, indicating that this wasn’t his first rodeo with these guys, and the group was free to assist as they saw fit.

The group quickly deployed on the two most likely areas of approach, with Thomas and Brooke taking the .50 cal they had scavenged from the Humvee before they abandoned it and mounting it on its tripod along the side of one road, while Bryce and Alison took the other road. Sean and Mike served as advance scouts in the woods just outside of the community. Tim, David, and Fabiana stayed with the children in the farmhouse, though David wondered aloud why they hadn’t joined the community’s other families in the inner ring of houses. Trip, meanwhile, went to the church to see if he could somehow prepare food or welcome the raiders to the community in some way to make them less hostile to the people of Snyder Farms. As gunfire erupted, it quickly became obvious that a peaceful solution was not to be found with this group. Jeff also tried to advocate with Trip for a peaceful solution, but in response, Trip threw a deer heart at him, splattering his chest with gore and ran off, leaving Jeff shaking his head and muttering aloud that he was the only person in the group who wasn’t a gun-nut or just plain crazy.

As it turned out, three trucks approached on the road manned by Bryce and Alison, and two more approached on the road where Thomas and Brooke were set-up with the .50 cal.

The first truck on Bryce and Alison’s road tried to run the two of them down, and barely missed Alison, but as they fired at the truck, the driver lost control and went flipping off into the woods. The second truck sped by, but missed the curve into the community and rolled off into the woods, killing all of its occupants as well. The third truck on that road made it past the duo and made the turn into the community.

Meanwhile, on the other road, Thomas opened fire at the approaching trucks with the .50 cal, causing one to go out of control and disabling the second. Upon coming to a stop, the occupants took cover behind the vehicle and engaged Thomas and Brooke in a fierce shootout. Thomas sensed that Brooke was in trouble and dove across the road to her position, knocking her out of the way and taking the hail of bullets that were meant for her.

With Thomas barely clinging to life, Brooke dragged his body into a ditch behind a fallen tree and returned fire. Though Brooke also sustained serious wounds in the firefight, the raiders were eventually all dispatched.

Back in the community, the residents who had a clear shot at the truck that was now in the community parking area, began taking a few shots, but the driver was fairly good. Trip ran towards the truck, yelled “GRENADE!!!” and threw a rock into the truck bed. All of the raiders in the bed were completely fooled and lept from the speeding truck. Everyone finished off the truck’s remaining occupants, and Trip cleaned up the final survivor, one of the leapers, with a well-placed rock to his head from a distance.

With the threat dispatched, the community began to come out of hiding, and Fabiana and “Father” Kenneth ventured out to treat the wounded.

To be continued…

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Season 2, Episode 2
Mama Bear

Somewhere in western Arkansas, the last two vehicles were low enough on gas that the group had to abandon them. The remaining motorcycle was already near empty from continued scavenging runs. It was two weeks since they had encountered Lucas Waller in the North Carolina mountains and left behind the Ghost Town In the Sky.

They could see the roofs of houses in the distance, so it appeared a town, or some vestige of civilization was up ahead, so they got the RV and the panel truck off the side of the road, gathered some mud and branches, and made them look like they had been there for a while. They also smeared muddy handprints on the insides of the windows, so it looked like there might be undead within the vehicles. Mike secured Henry’s old hunting rifle to the roof of the RV and switched the scope over to his M-16. Everyone grabbed some basic supplies and some weapons and set off on foot for what looked to be about a 2 mile walk to the houses they could see in the distance.

The houses turned out to be a gated subdivision that looked like it had been abandoned in the early days of the outbreak. The neighborhood of nice one and two-story homes was surrounded by a 12-foot high brick wall. An abandoned guard house sat behind a pair of sturdy iron gates. The lettering next to the gates proclaimed the community to be Skyler Estates.

The iron gates of Skyler Estates were secured from the inside by a large tow chain and large Master lock that both looked brand new. From the outside, there appeared to be no residents remaining in the community, but that shiny new lock and chain seemed to indicate otherwise.

Mike climbed to the top of the wall, while Thomas and Trip walked a circuit around the exterior perimeter. As they were walking the perimeter, Mike whistled loudly, which elicited no response from the community, but did serve to summon a few of the local living dead populace to start shambling in the direction of the place.

As everyone gathered before the gates, the lock was picked and the group quickly moved through the gates while they were locked behind them. Most of the initial wave of shamblers received the pointy ends of knives or fire axes before the group moved further into the neighborhood.

Past the enpty guard house, the group saw that every single house on the first cross street had an “X” painted on or near the front door in dayglo orange spray paint. Trip opened the garage door of the first house, and while it didn’t contain a vehicle, it did contain a wheelbarrow, which was used to move a large number of the shamblers outside to the ditch across the street, though more were still arriving as they worked. Finally, they abandoned the corpse removal and ventured into one of the houses near the entrance. They moved carefully, covering both entrances to the house and finally hearing the telltale moaning coming from the master bathroom area of the house. They found the ubiquitous orange “X” sprayed on the door to this room as well. Thomas tried to kick the door in, so he and Bryce could dispatch the shamblers within, but it bounced off one of the undead and rebounded shut, after which those shamblers in the room began piling against the door.

Leaving the house behind, the group began to check others, finding nearly the same scenario, or some variation, in every house in the neighborhood. Every house, that is, except one single story home in the back corner, farthest from the gate. There was no orange “X” on this door.

Entering carefully, Trip took the lead, whistling and talking loudly to himself, trying to project that the group wasn’t looking to harm anyone. The group followed, methodically beginning to clear the house. Sean and Thomas went down the back hall. Sean broke down the first door on the right, which turned out to be a bathroom, but as soon as he went through, Thomas found himself looking down the business end of a shotgun. In close quarters, this looked like it could get really ugly, really fast.

The bearer of the shotgun was an extremely attractive woman, who looked confident and steady as she approached and told the group to drop their weapons. As she advanced from a bedroom doorway, another door opened and two young girls stuck their heads out. The woman told the girls to get back in the room and called out to another person for help. A man responded to the summons, coming out of the same room the woman appeared from.

After a few tense moments, everyone lowered their weapons and introductions were made. The strangers were Caitlin and Jeff Murray and their daughters Barbara and Lina. Bryce and Fabiana soon introduced their daughter, Kimmy, and Tim brought his daughter, Samantha, inside as well. Once Caitlin saw the group had children along, the two sides found some common ground and began swapping stories of the post-apocalypse world and their experiences.

The houses of this neighborhood were all strangely without vehicles, and without most obviously useful supplies. Using a ladder found in a garage, the group set up a watch post on the roof to keep an eye on the undead gathering outside the wall.

The group set up watches during the night, but the only thing that disturbed the group’s peaceful rest came from within the bedroom where Fabiana was having a little slumber party with the girls.

Kimmy and Samantha, and Brooke, who was sleeping on the living room couch, had another of their dreams. In this dream, they saw four men on horseback. One was dressed as a fireman in full firefighting gear, another as a police officer. All four looked friendly and helpful, and gave off a soothing aura. Somehow, the girls knew that they were supposed to go with these men, that if they didn’t go with them and help them, the men would die. Samantha, who was a bit older than Kimmy, and Brooke, also picked up that they could save these men, but doing so could put their own group in some danger. Otherwise, the night passed peacefully, though after the dream, Brooke joined Thomas in the master bedroom.

In the morning, the group decided to send out a scavenging party to check the nearby area for potential fuel and supplies. The group doused any flammable liquids they could find on the living dead that had gathered outside the walls of the neighborhood, and lowered two scavenged bicycles over the wall. Bryce used the crossbow to take out the walkers nearby, and Trip and Sean used the bikes to lure a large number of them away before lighting the horde on fire, which spread to large numbers of them. After turning the undead horde into a flaming undead horde, the two circled back around and were joined by Thomas, Bryce, Brooke, Mike, Caitlin, and Alison, while the rest of the group (Tim, David, Heidi, Sarah, and Jeff) stayed behind with the kids.

About half a mile from Skyler Estates, the group passed a road leading to the south. On that road, just off the road the group was on, were four men on horseback, looking stunned to see a large group of living people on this road at this time. None of them were dressed as police officers or firefighters, but Brooke could tell that these were indeed the men from her dream.

To be continued…

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Season 2, Episode 1
The Legend of Lucas Waller

Season 2, Episode 1

The Cast:
Bryce Winters – The father of Kimmy and husband of Fabiana Winters is just trying to protect what’s left of his family.
Dr. Fabiana Winters – Wife of Bryce Winters, the doctor’s goal is to help find a cure.
Thomas Odenson – This Marine decided to stick with the group, rather than leave with Major Morgan.
Brooke Abrams – The former party girl is dealing with her strange fevered dreams and her attraction to Thomas.
Trip Gordon – This Irish drifter is finding a place in this group that he’s never found with people before.
Mike Fulmin – Always a rebel, Mike is now battling a budding drug addiction along with the walking dead.
Alison Gandry – The lithe dancer is finding herself well-suited to getting into and out of difficult situations.
Sean MacGregor – He’s getting the photos of a lifetime, if there is anyone left to appreciate them later.

Supporting Cast:
Kimmy Winters – The young daughter of Bryce and Fabiana shares a bond with Samantha Hickman and Brooke Abrams.
Tim Hickman – A former chemistry teacher who is trying to protect his daughter Samantha, the only thing he has left.
Samantha Hickman – Tim’s daughter has grown inseparable from her friend Kimmy.
Sarah Sherman – The former party girl was disfigured by Spiderbait, but has fallen for Trip’s strange charms.
David Norris – This drifter and jack-of-all-trades is Trip’s reluctant sidekick.
Heidi Simpleton – Long Alison’s best friend, she now clings to Alison for support in the face of this threatening new world.

Making it past the population centers of North Carolina was not easy. The two weeks since leaving Pink Hill and splitting off from Major Morgan and his Marines were a desperate blur of running, scavenging, fighting, surviving. They barely had time to process the atrocities they’d faced in that small town. Everyone was dealing with Dr. Winters’ seeming betrayal to the town’s ruthless Dr. Lewis in a different way. Her husband Bryce didn’t really blame her for confiding in the doctor. He knew that she was only trying to do what was best for their family. The others weren’t so sure.

The first thing to go was the little station wagon. It didn’t make it past Fayetteville. Everything else in the convoy was diesel and it just didn’t make sense to have to search for two sources of fuel. Before ditching the car, the group siphoned what little gas remained in the tank and filled the tanks of the motorcycles in the back of the panel van. They also stripped anything useful that they may need later.

Somewhere between Fayetteville and Charlotte, Trip’s pickup truck was ditched to save fuel. Everything in the back and in the toolboxes was crammed into the panel van. The truck was stripped and hidden off the road.

Getting around Charlotte, NC wasn’t easy before the dead started to walk. Now, it was an even more terrifying ordeal. Somewhere north of the city, the group decided to save fuel by ditching the Humvee, first removing the mounted .50 cal machine gun and as much of the mounting assembly as possible. They also stripped out the radios and all other useful parts and equipment. It really broke Thomas’ heart to leave her behind, so they found a stretch of trees and wedged her in there, covering her with camouflage netting and branches, in case they came back through.

The final obstacle was Asheville, NC. Getting around the city and through the mountains in which it rested was no easy task. The roads were impassable in many places. The roads that were clear, or could be cleared with some effort, did not permit easy scavenging for food or fuel. Breaking through into the less populated areas in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains was a major accomplishment for the group, and the going became easier, though supplies became no more plentiful.

A little more than 12 miles east of Maggie Valley, NC their luck, and their fuel, ran out. They were on a winding mountain road in the middle of nowhere. Night was approaching quickly. On the right hand side of the road, they could see a driveway leading to some farm buildings set back from the road.

Thomas and Brooke kept watch from the roof of the RV while two groups went to check out the farm. Trip, Mike, and Alison snuck through the woods to investigate the chicken coops, hog houses, and barn. Bryce, Sean, and Tim took the direct route up the driveway toward the main house. Each group carried a radio to signal if they were in trouble.

Bryce’s group found two vehicles out front; an old rusty pickup truck and another old flatbed stake truck. Approaching the house, there were no signs of habitation, but the door was locked. Bryce put his shoulder to the door, forcing it open, and found a dusty, deserted home with the furniture covered with sheets and nothing in the way of food or supplies, but also none of the dead things. It looked like the farm house was abandoned long before the crisis arose.

Trip’s group found the chicken coops and hog houses empty of both livestock and useful items. They found the barn door barred from the outside, so Mike climbed up the old planks and made it to the opening into the hayloft. Sneaking to the edge of the loft, he looked down on a scene of dead horses and about a dozen of the dead shambling around the barn, trapped inside. He climbed down and informed the others. Around the side of the barn was a tank of diesel with almost 20 gallons still inside and a few old, rusting pieces of farm equipment.

The two groups merged back at the house and reported their findings to each other, then walked around the house, looking for a storm cellar or other basement. They found the angled metal doors to the cellar around the side of the house. There was no lock on the doors, but Trip saw numerous footprints leading to the cellar. They called out and heard no response.

Back at the RV, Thomas and Brooke saw a few dozen of the shamblers approaching on the mountain road. Due to the terrain, the things were pretty close when they were spotted. Thomas quickly signaled everyone back to the RV. Moving quickly away from the house, the group followed the footprints back to the stake truck and found that it had a little bit of gas, just barely above the “E” on the guage. They hotwired it and rode back to the RV and the panel van.

Once at the vehicles, the group gathered their easily portable necessities, the .50 cal machine gun, and a motorcycle and jumped on the back of the stake truck for a short ride back to the cellar doors. They decided to take their chances with who or whatever was dow there as the horde, now looking to contain close to 200 of the things, approached.

Back at the house, they tied rope around the door handles and pulled them open from the sides. They moved down the stairs cautiously to find a group of about 20 dirty, disheveled, and extremely frightened folks huddled in a back corner of the cellar. They pulled the doors shut and pulled the bolt from the inside, wondering why the group down here hadn’t done that in the first place.

The survivors in the cellar did not have a single weapon larger than a butcher knife or a hatchet among them. There were no firearms present. They were extremely hesitant to talk about how they got there or how long they had been there, and the group quickly surmised that they left someone outside who had barricaded the shamblers inside the barn and was likely still out there. Meanwhile, Thomas set-up the .50 cal on it’s ground mount at the foot of the steps.

After a short time, a dozen gunshots were heard echoing from the area between the house and the road. Bryce and Thomas climbed out of the cellar to check it out, sneaking along the house and keeping to the bushes, trees, and longer grass. Scattered along the driveway were the corpses of a dozen of the things, each with a clean shot to the head from a large caliber handgun, fired at fairly close range. They could see the main horde still out on the road, mostly clustered around the vehicles, probably still smelling the living humans who had so recently been occupying them. They could also see several more of the things approaching down the driveway, likely drawn by the gunshots.

Bryce took three out with his crossbow, and the remaining ones were getting close to where he and Bryce were hiding behind the bushes almost under the front porch, when another gunshot echoed from the area of one of the hog houses and another of the things crumpled, with half of its head missing. The shooter then yelled out, “HYAAA! C’MERE PIG!” The remaining things moved towards the yell. Another gunshot dropped another one, and Bryce finished another with his crossbow.

As he approached the hog house, Bryce heard a voice behind him say, “Nice shootin’ pardner.” Turning, he saw a man dressed in the black outfit of a sheriff from the wild west. Huge old Colt revolvers hung from his twin gunbelts. The handles of kukri-like old machetes protruded over each shoulder. In his hands was an old Springfield 1903 rifle. At the man’s urging, they collected Thomas and moved back to the cellar as more of the horde began to find its way towards the vicinity of the house.

Back in the cellar, the man in black, who identified himself as Lucas Waller, told his story. A former rancher and collector of vintage weapons from Pinebox, Texas with a Masters degree in history from East Texas State University (ETSU), Lucas lost his ranch when the economy collapsed. He fell back on his history degree, and his love for the wild west, taking a job as an “interpretive historian” at the Ghost Town In the Sky in Maggie Valley, NC. When the dead started walking, he reasoned that the park, accessible only by chair lift, would be the safest place to go, but he couldn’t get people to listen at first, until he donned his sheriff’s outfit from his job as a re-enactor… I mean, “interpretive historian” at the park, grabbed his guns, and took on the persona of the old west sheriff he was so used to playing. “Sheriff” Waller had spent the weeks since then traveling to as many of the nearby small towns, villages, and collections of buildings that passed for civilization in these parts, collecting what survivors he could and transporting them to the Ghost Town In the Sky. In that time, he had earned the apparent animosity of the local hordes of undead, who seemed to be following him from place to place by now. The best he could hope for was to stay one step ahead of the hordes. This time, he didn’t have enough gas to make it to Maggie Valley, so he stopped at this abandoned farm and got “his people” into the cellar, locking some wandering undead into the barn, before the group showed up and ran out of gas.

By now, the group could hear the unmistakable, chilling sound of one of the zombie babies outside. Frighteningly, it seemed to be directing the horde, as they apparently searched the property, first rampaging through the house, directly above their heads, then using their mass to demolish the barn and free those trapped inside. Before they could come back around, Lucas turned to the group and asked them to do him a boon. He would draw the horde off if they would promise to get his people to the Ghost Town. They agreed and gave Waller the keys to the motorcycle and two molotov cocktails to help him make his escape.

The last they saw of Lucas Waller, he lit the two molotovs, threw open the cellar doors, and started yipping and yelling. They heard him gun the motorcycle and thread through the horde, which followed him inexorably into the night. Barring the doors, the group got what sleep they could until morning, when they led Waller’s “people” out to the truck, divided the diesel between the three vehicles and dropped them off at the entrance to the Ghost Town in the Sky. As Waller’s “deputies” fired up the generators to the chair lift, they were allowed to take a little more fuel for their good deed. The group told the “deputies” that the sheriff had led the entire horde off on his motorcycle and that he was out there somewhere, hopefully to return soon to the Ghost Town In the Sky.

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