Authors: Kellee L. Greene
his is a work of fiction
. Names, characters, organizations, places, events and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
opyright © 2016
Kellee L. Greene
ll rights reserved
of this book may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission of the author.
irst Edition May 2016
or my readers
… Thank you!
ur truck sped
down the abandoned road, and I watched the scenery blur by. I was imagining what everything out would have looked like before the storms hit. There would have been large farmhouses, barns, and tractors, but none of that remained. I was tired of running away. Being able to stay in one place for a while sounded like a fantasy. My life now was so different than it had been before the storms changed everything.
After what happened with losing Owen and essentially losing Ryan too, we decided to continue southeast away from Seattle. More specifically, away from the HOME base camp. There wasn’t anything left for us in Washington, and the further we could get from HOME the better I felt. The better we all probably felt.
But of course, I knew there wasn’t any way to really ever be completely away from HOME. They were everywhere. They were a huge organized group, and I was confident in my belief that they were only getting bigger every day. For all I knew babies were being born there, and they’d be programmed and brainwashed the minute they took their first breath.
It had been beyond difficult to leave Ryan behind with the HOME army, but we didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. It was either leave him behind or we’d all die. We chose to live another day in this ripped apart world, struggling just to stay alive.
It helped that the choice had been made easier because Ryan claimed he didn’t remember us. Which was confusing because he helped us to get away when HOME started to come after us. That seemed like a really strange move for a member of the HOME army to make for complete strangers.
We’d been lucky to find food, water and gas as we continued traveling away from Washington, but I think we all knew it wouldn’t last. Water could be found and boiled, but food was getting more difficult. It seemed that more places had been cleaned out by other survivors. I imagined that those that were still alive stockpiled it in basements or storage areas. Half of what we did find looked rotten or otherwise inedible. Penn joked about finding fishing poles and taking up fishing, which didn’t actually sound like a bad idea. Except for the fact that I absolutely hate fish. But first we needed to get away.
I wanted to go somewhere secluded. Far away from HOME and even other survivors. We could try growing my seeds. Or maybe find other things to grow. But for now, we needed to keep moving.
We hadn’t run into many people as we traveled with no real destination in mind. I figured the majority left had joined up with HOME or were in hiding.
HOME was still a very real threat. Before we left the house in Washington that we were staying in after we had to leave Ryan behind, we decided it would be wise to take some time to change our looks. Maybe it would be enough to help protect us if anyone was out there searching for us. Like the HOME army or its spies.
Penn had found a razor and completely shaved off all of his perfectly gorgeous hair. He looked like a completely different person. Penn looked like a bad-ass and not someone who you’d want to mess with. Which was true, but before the change you wouldn’t have known that by looking at him.
Sienna practically forced me to cut her hair because she was afraid she’d mess it up. But of course, I had no idea what I was doing and by the time I was done it was a jagged bob. We dyed it a deep shade of brown which actually turned out pretty nice, except that it had also stained my hands.
Dean outright refused to shave his head, but he agreed to let Sienna and I try to lighten his hair color. It only went a shade or two lighter, so he found a baseball cap. He bent the brim into a rounded shape and wore it low so it hid his eyes.
My new look was pretty shocking. It was even surprising to me how different I looked. The first time I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror I jumped back thinking someone had snuck up on us. But then I realized it was only me looking back at myself.
I had bleached my hair to the point where it was almost white. Platinum blonde. I wore a thin knit hat which pressed my hair down against my head. Then I finished off the look with a pair of sunglasses to hide my eyes. I was pretty sure that HOME wouldn’t recognize me since I barely recognized myself.
But anyone that worked for HOME had probably been alerted to look out for four people traveling together. So if they saw us, they would probably be suspicious. How many people were out there traveling in a group of four near this area? Probably just us. At the very least they’d try to take us with them even if they didn’t know it was us. We were truly in a lose-lose situation as far as I was concerned.
“Park over there,” Dean said when a gas station came into view. He pointed to where he wanted Penn to go, which was next to a parked car. A car that I hoped was abandoned.
We were still traveling in the truck we had taken from the house we stayed at after fleeing from HOME. The place we stayed after leaving Owen’s body just laying sprawled out in the open. I could still see his blood coloring the ground around him. I didn’t even want to think about what had happened to his body after we left.
Once the truck stopped, Dean adjusted his hat and stepped out of the car. I watched him carefully scan the area as he made his way to the back of the truck. He removed the cut-off piece of garden hose we took from the house just for this purpose. To siphon gas.
So far we had been lucky enough to find gas from random abandoned cars. We stopped any time we saw a vehicle so we could siphon anything that was left in the tank.
“How much further are we going to go today?” I asked Penn as I kept my eyes mostly on Dean. We pretty much did the same thing at every stop. Penn would watch out the front window and I’d watching Dean’s back while Sienna looked everywhere else as best as she could. It had worked for us this far.
“Just another hour or two,” Penn said starting the truck at the same time Dean opened the passenger door. The truck dipped down a bit as he climbed up and got inside.
“Should we check inside?” Dean wondered out loud, but I could tell by the look on his face that for some reason he didn’t seem to like the look of this place. It was dark and rundown, and it looked as though the roof could cave in at any moment. I didn’t have a good feeling about the place either, but what if we were leaving something behind just because of an unwarranted bad feeling?
Penn paused for a minute and gave the building a closer look. It seemed as though he had the same concerns. “Maybe the next one,” he said shaking his head. He glanced back towards the storage bins we had in the back of the truck. He was probably trying to do a mental inventory of everything that was still inside of them. We had enough for now, but probably just barely.
It had been difficult for Dean and Penn to tie the bins to the truck so they wouldn’t slide around, but they had managed. It had been the perfect idea to store anything we collected along the way. Two large storage bins held everything we had.
He shifted the truck into reverse and got us back on the road. It had taken us several days to travel across Washington. Everything we did was slow and careful, and since we didn’t really know where we were going we weren’t in any real hurry. Other than getting as far away from HOME as we could. If that was even possible.
After maybe a half-hour or so, we drove by a signpost that was on a perfect forty-five-degree angle. It wasn’t the least bit difficult to read the slanted sign. It informed us that we had entered Idaho.
I thought maybe once we crossed that imaginary state-line I’d feel better, but I didn’t. It would be dark in a couple hours so we needed to find a place to stay for the night. Penn liked to find something while it was still light out. That way we could properly make sure the place was safe while we could still somewhat see our way around. Although the cloud covered days didn’t provide much light, it was better than trying to check a house during the night.
We had gotten new flashlights and found a small supply of ammunition. So far we hadn’t needed to use our guns, but the flashlights came in quite handy. We hadn’t seen any other people in days. I wondered if people were dying because food was getting hard to find. If the reason for the lack of people was because of diminishing food and water, we’d likely be following in that same path soon enough.
As we continued down the deserted highway the sign that said how many more miles to Boise was still standing. It was likely there would still be some supplies left there. But that meant it was also possible there would be more people and therefore be more dangerous.
“Let’s find somewhere to stop. This is close enough for today,” Penn said looking out his driver-side window. I exhaled, trying to keep my body relaxed. This was always one of my least favorite parts because you never knew if this was the time you might run into someone unfriendly.
“Maybe too close,” Dean muttered as he looked at me quickly and then back out the front window. Ever since we’d lost Owen, Dean hadn’t been quite the same. Then again, maybe none of us were.
Sienna reached her arm out and pointed to the right, “How about that one?”
It was a boxy trailer out in the middle of nowhere. It was small but it would do. I only wished it had been better hidden instead of being out in the open. But we had to find something and of course we didn’t know when or if we’d find something better. Penn nodded and drove the truck towards the trailer.
He pulled up and parked the truck off to the side of the rusty, dented-up trailer. He looked around before he opened the door and climbed out. It had become a habit for us to check for dog-beasts any time we got out of the truck. But we hadn’t seen many of them either. They seemed to be lessening which was fine with me. I knew HOME was collecting them, so maybe that accounted for their disappearance. Or maybe they were also struggling to find food and dying off. Which I was also OK with.
“Wait in the truck,” Penn said before he closed the driver-side door. Dean opened his door and followed him to the trailer. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.
“Just one time let’s tell them to wait in the truck,” Sienna said with an impish smirk. She turned to watch them enter the trailer.
“No kidding,” I said, crossing my arms as I slumped back against the seat.
I watched as Penn and Dean readied their guns and entered the house as if they were trained police officers. It didn’t matter that we hadn’t seen anyone in days, Penn would always insist we clear every place we planned to stay as if some kind of threat was waiting inside.
“Oh crap!” Sienna said as she pulled me down against the seat with her. I didn’t know what she had seen, but it was something bad enough that she wanted us both down below the window.
“What is it?” I whispered.
“Just out back… how do we warn Penn and Dean? It will draw their attention if we get out of the truck,” Sienna said as her eyes shifted up towards the roof of the truck nervously. We still hadn’t been able to find her a gun, and I wasn’t even sure she wanted one. When we had picked up ammunition at an already broken into gun shop, none of us had even been the least bit surprised that all the guns were gone.
“I… I’m not sure,” I said pulling my gun out of my waistband. I tried to keep my hand steady, “You only saw one person?”
“Yeah… I only saw one, but that doesn’t mean there is only one,” Sienna said as she started to slowly raise her head up to look out of the window.
I shook my head in an attempt to stop her, but either she didn’t see me, or she was ignoring my warning. Her eyes slowly scanned the area from left to right. Then she lowered herself back down.
“Well?” I asked, unable to blink until she updated me on the situation.
“I didn’t see anyone,” she said putting her palms down against the seat.
But just because she hadn’t seen them, didn’t mean they weren’t still out there somewhere. Maybe they had gone into the trailer. Although if they had gone inside, surely we would have heard gunshots by now. Then again, Penn could have taken them by surprise and handled it without ever even having to touch his gun. The random guy could be laying hogtied on the floor for all I knew.
“What’s taking them so long?” I said feeling an urge to look out the window. But I fought the compulsion and stayed below the dash.
“Should we go inside?” Sienna said with a quick glance over her shoulder. I tilted my head to see what she was looking for and realized she was checking to see if Penn had taken the keys with him when he left the truck. Which he had.
I didn’t think it was a good idea to just go barging in there after they told us to wait in the truck. They wouldn’t be expecting us. What if we took them by surprise and they shot at us? I knew that if we were in danger they’d want us to do whatever it took to stay safe. But I thought we should warn them. We had to take our chances.
“Yes. Come out this way,” I said as I carefully peeked out the side window. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that I could see, so I opened the door as silently as I could manage. I lowered myself out of the truck. The dirt and gravel crunched underneath my feet as I put my weight down.
I tried to make my steps as quiet as possible as I walked towards the trailer with Sienna following close behind. My fingers were still wrapped around the handle of the gun. I was clutching it so tightly my whole hand shook and my fingers felt numb.
As we got closer to the side of the trailer I could hear some kind of commotion going on inside. It didn’t sound like anyone was saying anything but it sounded like fighting, wrestling or general struggling. I looked at Sienna and I could tell she heard it too.
Sienna and I both jumped when something slammed into the inside wall of the trailer just behind us. I heard muffled talking and then feet stomping across the floor. It sounded as if they were heading towards the front door.
We scrambled to hide ourselves around the side of the trailer. If it wasn’t Dean or Penn that came out I had to be ready. I held my gun up as if I knew what I was doing. My hand shook so much I hoped I wouldn’t have to use it. But if Penn and Dean were in any kind of trouble, I would have to do something. There was no way we were going to get separated from them. Not this time.