Read The Dead Divide Us (Book 1) Online

Authors: Vincent S. Tobia

Tags: #zombies

The Dead Divide Us (Book 1) (6 page)

BOOK: The Dead Divide Us (Book 1)
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Jan Goodman, with Robert’s bat on his lap, sat back into the passenger seat appearing to think. He moved his back up and down on the seat while his big tan winter jacket moved opposite his body.

Jan was a portly man and slightly balding. Although you might never notice his receding hairline, because he almost always wore a beat up John-Deer ball cap. He graduated from Colton High School in the same class as Robert’s brother Paul, putting him around 31 years old and rather young to be balding like he was.

Robert watched as Jan reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a white bag of chewing tobacco. Jan opened the bag and plucked out a large wad of chew, shoving it into the corner of his lip. Robert remembered back in the day when Jan had tried to get Paul hooked on it, but every time Paul had tried it, he came to the breaking point of puking. Paul's faced turned green and everything.

Jan kicked around a bunch of trash that was collecting on the floor of Robert’s passenger side. He leaned down and picked up a used Styrofoam coffee cup.

“Can I use this as a spitter?” Jan asked politely.

“Sure man,” Robert replied.

“Okay well, I woke up this morning when Fran and the girls got up. Just like usual. I got a phone call from one of my bookkeepers saying he wasn't coming over today. We were supposed to be going over the records and cataloging for the farm, you know, the non-farming stuff,” Jan recalled.

“Uh-huh,” Robert said, listening intently.

“Fran and the kids had already turned on the TV by the time I left the bedroom. Every channel, and I mean
every
channel, was fixed on telling us to head for shelter at the fire company,” Jan said, speaking with amazement.

“I saw that too,” Robert added as the truck hit what must have been a pothole or some type of small creature in the road. The truck bounced up and down causing both of their heads to jerk wildly. The ground was already covered in a respectable amount of snow and Robert quickly realized that he needed to start paying more attention to the road, and then thought, “man, I need a drink already.”

“Uh, maybe drive a little slower there Rob,” Jan suggested.

Robert took notice of his speedometer. Fifty-five miles an hour probably
was
way too fast in this weather. He slowed down to a brisk 45 mph.

“So yeah, anyway. We got in the van and headed over to the fire company. Who was that old Army-Major-looking guy you were talking to? He seemed to be all up on you,” Jan asked.

Robert was abruptly reminded of Major Frost, convinced the man was indeed onto him. Frost knew Robert
was
different and he seemed to recognize that Robert knew exactly what was happening while other people like Jan were left in the dark about the truth. Robert was not looking forward to meeting up with Frost again and having to explain exactly
how
he knew about the infection.

“Yeah, you’re right he seemed to really have it out for me,” Robert told Jan.

Jan held up his cup and spit into it loudly.

“Oh yeah, and Fran tried to call her mother up in Maine,” Jan said, accepting Robert’s vague answer.

“Um, Augusta right?” Robert asked.

“Yep, but she wasn’t answering. Fran is worried sick right now. She’s been trying to call her every 10 minutes,” Jan said.

‘Augusta Maine,’ Robert thought. ‘Maybe Fran’s mother is infected. Or maybe she’s just sleeping in this morning. There’s no way of knowing.’ What worried Robert the most was that Jan seemed to have no real idea about the infectious disease that was not only east of them, but also laying down dead in a bloody mess in Robert’s apartment. For the good of his brother’s old friend, Robert had to tell Jan what was really going on... hopefully without having to tell him about Carl in the process.

“Jan listen, I know what's happening,” Robert blurted.

“You do? It's war, isn’t it? Those fuckin' terrorists are up to something aren’t they?” Jan asked, surprised and angry at the same time. A chunk of black chew spit flung out of his mouth and landed on his chin.

“No, it’s not war... or maybe it is; I don’t know exactly
all
of the details. But I talked to Paul this morning,” Robert explained.

“Paul? In Seattle? Is he okay too?” Jan asked.

Robert slowly took the truck around a right hand bend in the road. He thought he felt the Bronco slip a little in the snow but he straightened her out alright.

“Yeah, Paul and his family are fine, but their news stations seem to be telling them a lot more than we’re hearing here,” Robert said.

Jan didn’t say anything; he just looked at Robert with a look longing for explanation.

“It seems there’s a virus or something heading this way from the east. It was reported in Manhattan and parts of New England,” Robert said.

Jan leaned back in his seat.

“New England, huh? What kind of virus?” Jan asked, rather calmly.

Robert drew in a long breath; he didn’t like what he was about to explain.

“It provokes some kind of hysteria, makes people mad,” Robert said.

“Mad? Big deal, I’m mad all the time,” Jan said.

“No, not mad like being angry. I mean like crazy; they literally attack other people and try to bite them,” Robert said convincingly.

“Bite them? Holy shit, you gotta be fucking with me, Rob.”

“No, I’m positive on this one. Trust me,” Robert said knowing it was a good idea not to tell Jan about the Carl Riggins incident... for now anyway.

“Robert, stop the truck,” Jan said quickly, sounding rather serious.

Robert looked up ahead. Up the snowy road and laying across Route 9 was a large tree.

“Shit,” Robert said as he slowly brought the Bronco to a stop. The tree had fallen across both sides of the road, from guard rail to guard rail.

“You think we can move it?” Robert asked.

“Hell no. A tree that big? No fucking way,” Jan replied.

“Fuck,” Robert said under his breath.

“How the shit do you think that sucker fell down?” Jan asked, astounded.

Robert looked out toward the fallen tree. The bottom of it, where it must have split off, was hidden in the midst of other trees and shrubbery. The area was a forest of rather large and lush pine trees.

“I guess parts of this forest are pretty damn old, Jan. Think we gotta go out and have a look?”

Jan turned around in the seat and looked out the window off to the side of the road behind them.

“Hey, no worries. Turn around. We’ll take a back road,” Jan said, spitting into his cup again.

Robert looked in the direction in which Jan was looking. About twenty yards back, there was a small side road leading into the forest.

“Seriously? Robert, that road will ride us out a little bit then bring us back on Route 9 probably a mile an’ a half up from here,” Jan said, mildly confused over Robert’s quizzical look.

“Oh jeez, I totally forgot about that,” Robert muttered and put the truck into reverse.

As they approached the dimly lit back road, Robert noticed how unused and dark it looked.

“At least all the tree cover will slow down some of the falling snow in there,” Robert said. Jan nodded his head in agreement.

“You’ve got this son of a bitch in 4-wheel right? Jan asked.

“Yep,” Robert replied and entered the rough back road.

The light changed around them from the brightness of a white snowy day to a cold darkness provided by a lush shadowy forest.

“You got anymore of that chew?” Robert asked.

 

3

 

Robert mused that taking the back road was like traveling on a long left turn detour. He hoped it wouldn’t be long before he could see a clearing through the massive amounts of large pine trees and then eventually get back to Route 9. Robert was getting more and more worried about his parents by the minute. He also desperately wanted to call his brother Paul, but he decided to wait until he reached his parents’ farm. With Paul all the way across the country, it didn’t seem right to call him until Robert could assure him first hand that their parents were indeed safe and sound.

He tried to focus on the chewing tobacco while he drove. It had been a long while since Robert had “dipped," and had only spit out of his window a few times before he started to feel light headed. Robert couldn’t take it anymore, so he flung his entire chew wad out of the window and onto the snow dusted floor of the forest.

“Guess dippin ain’t for you either then, huh?” Jan said with a hearty laugh.

“No, I guess not. Hey you remember hanging out playing Mario Kart back in the day?” Robert asked, searching for another distraction -a more pleasant one this time.

“Yep, as a matter of fact didn’t we play the shit out of that one during that huge blizzard we had in '93?” Jan asked recalling a nearly forgotten memory.

“It
was
that year, yeah. We didn’t have school for an entire week!” Robert added.

“I know; I basically stayed at your house that week too. My dad was so pissed at me,” Jan said with another good laugh and Robert couldn’t help but to laugh along with him. There was a brief moment of silence before Jan asked,

“So you say Paul's doing good?”

“They’re scared, but yeah he’s safe.”

“No, I mean are things working out for him?”

“Oh yeah, absolutely. His place is real nice, big house in a great community. His kids are great too.”

“A proud uncle then, huh?”

“That’s correct, my friend,” Robert said with the first sincere smile he’d had all day.

Robert picked up on Jan’s more than normal concern for Paul. Paul and Jan had always been great friends, but when high school was finished, they had to go their separate ways. Not because they didn’t want to be friends anymore; simply because their intelligence levels were polar opposites. To put it mildly, it is a divine miracle that Jan was able to get passing grades through high school... "passing grades" meaning a D minus in every class except P.E.

As Paul went off to college, Jan went right to work on his father’s farm. Frank Goodman’s farm was a legendary piece of property in the Colton area. The farm, handed down four generations produced just about everything from corn to cattle. It had both dairy and meat production. When Frank passed away three years prior, Jan had become the sole owner of Goodman’s farm. Last Robert had heard, Jan employed nearly fifteen men to help with the massive undertaking. Robert knew because Jan had offered him a spot on the roster, a generous offer, but the early morning start of a farmer’s workday was something that Robert was not interested in. Not at all.

Robert suddenly heard a very loud
smack
; it took him by surprise and scared the shit out of him all at once.

“What the fuck?” Jan burst out, just as surprised.

Robert looked over at Jan and noticed a large snowball plastered to the outside of Jan’s window.

“Someone fucking threw that?” Jan said, sounding surprised and pointing directly at the smeared snowball.

Robert slowed the Bronco down to a crawl and rolled down both windows.

“What are you doing? Jan asked.

Robert told Jan to just be quiet and listen.

Foomp, foomp.
From behind them, two more snowballs hit the truck’s rear window.

“Hey! Help! Stop driving!” a young voice yelled out from behind them.

Robert brought the truck to a stop.

A young boy dressed in hunting camouflage came running around to Robert’s window. The boy looked tired and scared.

“Thank God you stopped. Help me please!” The boy said, panting from running.

Robert put the truck in park and jumped out to study the boy. Jan did the same, leaving the bat sitting on the passenger seat.

“Okay, slow down there. What’s wrong?” Robert asked the boy.

“My dad, he fell down. He’s stuck in some hole. Can you help him please?”

“What’s your name kid?” Jan asked.

The young kid took off his black beanie cap.

“I’m Jared Wheaton,” The kid said, finally catching his breath.

Jan scratched his chin for a second, thinking deeply while studying the boy.

“Oh okay, your father is Steve?” Jan asked.

Eleven year old Jared Wheaton’s eyes instantly lit up.

“Yes, that’s my dad! Can you please help him?”

Robert looked at Jan and through questioning glances they agreed to help the boy.

“I know Steve, he’s a good guy,” Jan added, giving Robert the final convincing he needed to help out the boy and his father.

“Okay, you say that your dad’s in a hole?” Robert asked Jared.

“Yes, we were out here scouting some spots to hunt. It’s a really big hole he fell into. I think he might have broken something 'cause he's making a lot of noise like he’s hurt,” Jared explained.

“You got rope in the truck Rob?” Jan asked.

BOOK: The Dead Divide Us (Book 1)
3.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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