Read The Dead Divide Us (Book 1) Online

Authors: Vincent S. Tobia

Tags: #zombies

The Dead Divide Us (Book 1) (7 page)

BOOK: The Dead Divide Us (Book 1)
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Robert reached into the truck and turned the keys, killing the ignition. He walked around the back and swung open the rear door. He grabbed a set of jumper cables that were about twelve feet total in length.

“We‘ll have to pull him out with these. They’re heavy duty,” Robert said while shrugging. Jan laughed almost condescendingly.

“How far away is your dad?” Robert asked Jared.

“Not far; he’s just beyond the tree line. In the clearing.”

Jan stood straight up and pointed his arm out toward the forest.

“The clearing? That way? East?” Jan asked.

“Yes. That way,” Jared confirmed.

“That would be at the edge of my property where we plant the corn. You say there’s a huge ass hole out there?” Jan asked in disbelief.

“Let’s just go help your dad out. Come on, lead the way Jared,” Robert instructed.

“I swear if some stupid kid’s been digging up my fields, I’m going to blow a gasket,” Jan added, becoming furious at the thought of large holes sitting in his crop fields.

Jared Wheaton led Robert and Jan into the forest. Robert could see they were walking over Jared’s first set of foot tracks in the snow. The forest floor was becoming heavily layered in snow; the crunching sound of brisk snow echoing through the air. Robert couldn’t help but think about just how on earth they were going to deal with Jared’s father. They could probably get him out of this hole, but if he was seriously injured, then that could be trouble. Robert supposed his mother could probably patch him up once they got to the farm. Then suddenly a morbid fear snapped into Robert’s head.

“Jared, have you or your Dad watched any television this morning? Or heard the radio?” Robert asked.

“No, we’ve been out here since before dawn,” Jared replied.

Robert slowed down and leveled up his walk with Jan’s. Robert shook his head in disapproval and Jan agreed. If Robert learned anything from his apartment encounter this morning; it was that things can always get worse. Then, after walking nearly twenty minutes, Robert heard the screams.

 

4

 

It took them a while, but Jared Wheaton led them to the edge of the forest. Jan looked out past the tree line and determined that the barren corn field that lay out in front of them was indeed part of his property.

“Sons of bitches! Look at all those fucking holes man!” Jan said, angry and astounded.

Robert looked out into the field; nearly a dozen very large holes were dug on Jan’s property.

“What on earth do you think these are here for Jan?” Robert asked.

“I sure as hell didn’t fucking dig them, that’s for sure. Christ,” Jan said, and then quickly turned his attention to the sounds he just started to hear.

“Hey Rob, you hear that? Sounds like a struggle or someone in pain,” Jan asked Robert.

Robert had heard these sounds before... from one infected Carl Riggins. On their way into the clearing he had heard it and some part of his mind willed it not to be true.

“Here he is, over here!” Jared yelled, excited, as he started to run to the clearing.

As Jan and Robert followed, they came to the clearing and noticed the giant holes in more detail.

“What the fuck is this?” Jan yelled out.

Each hole was nearly ten feet deep and ten feet wide. They were massive and almost perfectly round.

“Come on! He’s in this one over here,” Jared yelled out again.

Robert approached the hole that Jared was now standing over. Robert was afraid to look in the hole; the sounds of moaning and trashing around were much louder than before.

“Daddy!” Jared yelled down into the hole.

Robert quickly ran over to the hole and forced himself to look down. There, in the hole, stood a man dressed in the same hunting camouflage as Jared. It was Steve Wheaton, Jared’s father, only Steve looked pale as paper and his eyes were blood shot. There was also that same smell, that stench of rancid milk and rotten bile that Robert gagged on as he breathed in too much, too quickly. The jumper cables in Robert’s hands made a clanging noise as they slammed into each other.

“If that’s your dad; then who’s
that
?” Jan suddenly asked, pointing down into the hole.

On the ground next to Steve Wheaton was another man. He was a slender man, wearing only jeans and a t-shirt. In this January weather? This man didn’t even have on shoes.

“Dad, I found these men. We’re gonna get you out of there,” Jared yelled.

Steve Wheaton turned around quickly, still standing over the man in the pit, and let out an unnaturally long moan. Dark spit and sticky bile ran from his lips and dripped onto the man below. It was then that not only did Robert realize Jared’s father was infected, but that it looked as though the man lying on the ground was also a victim of the virus—likely the one who infected Steve. Half of the man’s neck was missing; it was all chewed and gnawed upon. Robert looked at the horrendous bite marks on the man’s neck and shuddered. “That could have been me!” Robert thought, scared and amazed that Carl Riggins could have done that to him this morning. Although it seemed impossible, the severity of the situation surrounding them had elevated even more. This shit was real and Robert was stuck in it. Smack dab in the middle.

“Dad?” Jared yelled back, scared. Jan moved closer to Robert.

“Holy shit, Rob is this…” Jan started to ask.

“Yup. Hey listen... Jared, come on, we have to get out of here,” Robert said to Jared.

Steve Wheaton shifted his weight and started to shamble over to the bank of the huge hole he was in. He was reaching up toward Jared and Robert; moaning and scratching at the dirt wall. Pieces of dirt began to fall all over Steve Wheaton.

“Is my dad sick or something? He wasn’t like this earlier when I left him here! When he fell down there, he said that other guy looked like he had fallen in too, but he wasn’t talking to Dad!” Jared asked, almost crying now.

Robert decided to choose his words carefully. He didn’t want to lie to Jared, but he might have to in order to get him out of there.

“Yes, he’s sick buddy. Come on with us and we’ll come back for him later,” Robert said.

Jared looked down at this father, a tear formed in his eye as he listened to his father’s ghastly moans. They were getting louder. More dirt fell onto Steve as he clawed away, trying desperately to grab at Jared. Jared noticed that dirt was falling into his father’s open mouth as he moaned.

“Look kid, we’ll bring back medicine for him okay?” Jan added and Robert thought that was a nice touch. There was no way in hell Robert was ever coming back to this area. Fuck Steve Wheaton. He was infected, already dead, and best forgotten.

“Okay,” Jared said mildly and joined Robert and Jan.

Steve Wheaton continued to thrash around in the giant hole. The fluids coming out of his mouth were clumping up with the mounds of dirt and roots, his finger nails clawing away relentlessly into the dirt.

Before they headed off, Robert put an arm around Jared.

“Listen, we’re going to leave him here for now. I know he’s your dad and all, but you gotta understand what’s really go….HEY!!”

Jared had snatched the jumper cables away from Robert and ran directly over to the edge of the hole. Jared instantly threw out the end of the cables into the giant hole while holding onto the other end. Robert barely had a split second to watch this all happen.

“NO! Jared!” Robert screamed as he began to run after him.

“Don’t worry; I’m just going to get him out of…” And with that, Jared Wheaton disappeared. Holding onto the jumper cables, Jared was pulled in by his crazed infected father. Gone.

Jan started to run over to the hole and Robert stopped him. They both stood for what seemed like hours, but in reality it was only a full two seconds before the screams began.

Jared’s screams were incredibly harsh.

“Forget it. The kid is done,” Robert said with tears rolling down his cheeks.

“What? You can’t know that?” Jan cried out. But then from within the hole, Jared’s screams were no longer that of a child’s. They were the screams of a complete person, a man now, a man that was dying. The volume, tone, pitch, and severity of the morbid screams of a human male dying were unmistakable and utterly impossible to listen to.

“He’ll be infected too now... if he doesn‘t bleed out,” Robert heard himself say, sick at himself for even saying it although it was true.

Robert and Jan turned back and trying to escape the horror, they held their hands up to their ears and ran. Jared’s screams became muted as was the crunching snow beneath their feet. Robert’s whole body was numb, his stomach destroyed, and his brain barely kept up to speed while trying to process everything.

How could they have just witnessed something like this? Again, Robert had an overpowering urge to call his brother back. The lives on earth became even more fragile than before. Death had arrived and he was angry. The same thought kept running though Robert’s mind, “What kind of world do we live in?”

 

“What kind of world do we now live in?”

“What kind of world do we now live in?”

“What kind of world do we now live in?”

 

Chapter 4: Family Man (Skeletons in the Closet)

 

1

 

Paul Landry closed the door to his son’s room. Five year old Shawn Landry had finally succumbed to the powerful urge to sleep and had fallen asleep on the couch next to his older brother, Eddie. After Paul saw that Shawn fell asleep, he gave Eddie the order to do the same although the eight year old didn’t seem the least bit tired. To Paul, Eddie seemed concerned, concerned on a level that conveyed great understanding of severity of the situation. Paul carried Shawn up to his room and as he walked down the hallway past Eddie’s room, he found him sitting on his bed and looking out toward the hallway.

“Lay down son. Try to sleep,” Paul quietly said to his son.

“Okay, Dad,” Eddie said politely, then swung his legs onto his bed and hit the pillow with his head. But Eddie didn’t close his eyes; he just stared straight up.

Sighing, Paul continued his walk down the hallway. Light from the streetlamps outside shone in from the large window near the door to Paul’s bedroom. As he entered the bedroom, he saw Ruth sitting cross legged on the bed, still studying her laptop. Paul quietly closed the door before speaking.

“Anything new?” Paul asked.

“Not a damn thing. Seriously I can’t even find that twitter account anymore,” Ruth replied rather loudly.

“It’s like it just disappeared,” she added, sounding defeated.

Paul exhaled slowly and walked over to his wife. Paul was worried too. He had also seen the two gruesome pictures that Ruth found on the internet. One picture was supposedly of an infected person, the other, an utterly hard-to-believe image of Times Square with the streets piled up with dead people. Paul was having a hard time thinking straight. Was any of that real? There was no way of knowing.

“Take a break from that computer 'hon,” Paul said to Ruth, as he brushed the back of her hair. Ruth closed the laptop hard, obviously frustrated.

“Did Robert call you back?” Ruth asked.

“No. And to be honest, I’m a little worried.”

Robert had called Paul, but after a few seconds of sounding distraught and out of place, he had told Paul he’d call him back. That was almost a half hour ago.

“Just call him then,” Ruth said.

Paul sat down on the bed and wrapped his arms around Ruth. Again he smelled the clean scent coming off of her bathrobe and in breathing in the familiar scent, was momentarily comforted.

“I’ll wait a little longer. If he’s busy taking care of something he won’t answer anyway,” Paul said, trying to push away the nasty picture of the infected.

“I don’t like this Paul. Everything feels off,” Ruth confided.

“I know, I know. I feel the same,” Paul agreed.

Both Paul and Ruth sat back and laid down on the bed, still holding onto one another.

“I mean, it’s really strange being here. Knowing something terrible is happening. It seems relatively quiet here. And…Jesus, Paul that picture we saw of Times Square…” Ruth trailed off, upset.

“Listen honey, we don’t know exactly what we saw there,” Paul said, trying to comfort his wife.

“I think it looked pretty clear Paul,” Ruth said.

“No, what I’m saying is that the photo could have been doctored. It could have been a joke. We only saw it for a few seconds,” Paul explained.

Ruth shifted on the bed and looked Paul straight in the eyes.

“What if that image
was
real?” she said.

Paul didn’t say anything; he didn’t want to say it out loud. If the photo was real then things could get really bad for them in Green Falls, Washington. And by the look and sound of it, it would get bad very soon.

“Let’s try to sleep. I’ll need to be up in two hours to meet up with Roy,” Paul said.

Paul had promised his neighbor Roy Benton that he’d be over to his house at 7 am to tag along with him to the Green Falls town meeting. This meeting wasn’t exactly something that Paul was looking forward to. He had gone to a bunch of them in the past -a lot of locals just arguing about zoning laws and building permits. Nothing to get that excited over. But this meeting promised to be different of course. They were to discuss the threat of a supposed disease spreading throughout the area.

“We’re coming with you,” Ruth stated.

“You think that’s a good idea?” Paul asked.

“Yes, we need to be with you. We need to stick together. Besides, we really need to know what’s going on,” Ruth said.

“I don’t want the kids getting scared though,” Paul said sincerely.

“Are you kidding? They’re already scared Paul! Shawn definitely and Eddie is hiding it well, but he’s scared too. So am I,” Ruth said.

Paul started to gently rub Ruth’s back.

“Listen, don’t be afraid. We’ll work though this. If things get bad, which I don’t think they will, we always have a back-up plan,” Paul said to Ruth.

“That cabin idea?” Ruth asked, not approving of the idea. She hated the idea actually.

“Yes, at least it’s something. But it won’t come to that,” Paul said. He expected Ruth to return an opinion on the matter, but she just lay there flirting with the influence of sleep.

Paul’s eyes began to get heavy as well. It seemed more important now than ever to get a least a few hours of sleep before the start of the day, a day that was already shaping up to be full of anxiety.

Just as Paul drifted into a deep sleep, his cell phone began to vibrate in his pajama pants pocket, jolting him and his wife from the promise of sleep. Paul swung out of bed and quickly held up the phone.

The call was from Robert.

“Rob? What’s up man?” Paul said as he answered, glad to finally have gotten a call back from his brother. The other end of the phone was silent for moment; the sound of phone static deafening to Paul. When Robert finally spoke, Paul could immediately tell something was wrong. Something had changed in his brother, something awful and permanent.

“Paul, we have trouble,” Robert said over the phone.

 

2

 

Paul felt his wife Ruth grab him on the shoulder as she sat up in bed.

“How is he? What is going on?” she asked frantically.

Paul shrugged off his wife for the time being; he really needed to understand what Robert meant by his last statement… “We have trouble.”

“Rob, are you okay? How’s Mom and Dad?” Paul asked into the tiny speaker in his cell phone.

“I’m fine. I haven’t made it to Mom and Dad’s yet. But you gotta listen to me Paul. Things ain’t good here,” Robert said.

Paul stood up, scratching his head while he talked to his brother.

“Okay, explain please Rob.”

Paul heard someone else through the phone asking Robert something from a distance. He thought the voice was vaguely familiar but couldn’t think of who would be with his brother.

“Hey, who is that? You with somebody?” Paul asked.

“Yeah, you remember Jan Goodman?” Robert replied.

Paul couldn’t believe it. It had been a couple years since Paul had last talked to his old high school buddy when Paul and his family had flown out to Pennsylvania for the Christmas holiday. That Christmas Eve he left his parents farm, where everyone was staying, and went to the local drinking hole with Robert. Rob’s Tavern, which was in no way related to Robert Landry, was the place where the local town lushes could get their fix of booze. Paul and his brother entered the tavern around nine o’clock and expected to only stay for a few drinks. That was until Jan Goodman came through the giant glass door and bellied up next to the Landry brothers. Paul and Jan instantly rekindled their friendship and reminisced on stories of high school. They even swapped family pictures that they both found hidden in the backs of their wallets. They drank a heavy amount of beer and several shots of bourbon, but no one drank more than Robert that night. After striking out early with a barely twenty-one year old brunette (who, truth be told, was more than likely barely seventeen) Robert decided to drink hard to cover his shame of rejection. Paul had a pretty good hangover for Christmas morning, but Robert’s hangover was substantially worse. Thinking back on it, Paul couldn’t remember much of what Jan Goodman had told him about his family that night.

“Of course I remember him. He's there?” Paul asked.

“Yeah, he’s here with me. We met up at the fire house, and he said he wanted to help get Mom and Dad to safety,” Robert explained.

“Okay, so the fire house is a safe place? Was the Army there?” Paul asked, but he heard a brief and negative pause in Robert’s response.

“Alright, I’ll start there. The fire company looks like our best bet. The Army does have a stronghold there,” Robert replied.

“Oh, well that’s great Rob,” Paul said.

“Well, kind of. The man in charge over there has it in for me. When we met I thought he was going to punch my face in. I don’t trust him; he seems like he knows way too much,” Robert said.

“Well, what’d you do to this guy?” Paul asked.

“Nothing! He instantly hates me and he almost didn’t let me continue on to get Mom and Dad,” Robert replied.

Paul was confused but felt relieved to know at least the Army had control of things back in Colton. He also knew his brother well enough to know that there was more to it than Robert was telling him but was more concerned about his parents than his brother's known attitude toward authority.

“So where are you now?” Paul asked eagerly. He noticed Ruth opened her laptop again on the bed, going back to searching the internet for news. Paul remembered the pictures he had seen and realized he had to tell Robert.

“We’re maybe four or five miles from the farm,” Robert said.

“You’re stopped? Why?” Paul asked.

“We had to take a back road off of Route 9; a giant tree was down across the road,” Robert said.

“Did your truck finally break down in the woods? Tell me it didn’t,” Paul asked.

“No, no. The truck is fine. We um…we ran into a little boy, his dad had fallen down…and…Jesus, Paul…” Robert trailed off with his voice cracking. Paul felt the cold chill of dread run down his spine, fearing what he’d hear next.

“Hey, Paul. It’s Jan.”

Paul heard the voice of his old buddy, having taken the phone from Robert.

“Jan, hey. It’s good to hear your voice man. Your family okay?” Paul said.

“Yeah, they are fine back at the fire company. Paul, the last thing we want to do is scare you, but I think we need to be honest. Things ain’t right around here,” Jan said bluntly.

“What happened to you guys?” Paul said slowly and not really wanting to know the answer. He heard the unmistakable sound of Jan spitting chew tobacco out of his mouth.

“This uh, infected fucker. He had fallen down a giant hole. His kid got us to help him. When we got there we saw this diseased guy in the hole, actually it was Steve Wheaton, you remember him? I think he coached fall baseball for a long time.”

Paul vaguely remembered hearing the name Steve Wheaton but couldn’t put a face to the name.

“Well away, this guy was fucking gone. All crazy and scratching at the ground; he looked burnt up ya know? Like his blood was boiling,” Jan said. Paul remembered the picture he had seen on the internet and knew exactly what Jan was describing.

“Well this kid didn’t want to leave his dad behind, so he turned back on us and we fucking lost the little guy…” Jan fell silent for a few seconds. Paul, not wanting to believe it, waited to hear Jan tell him that somehow they found the boy.

“I’m telling you this because I think we may have bigger problems than these infected fuckers that are tearing people apart,” Jan said.

“What?” Paul asked, still trying to wrap his head around what Jan had told him.

“The hole that Steve Wheaton was in? Well, there were about twelve of these things dug around that area,” Jan said.

“Okay,” Paul said, wanting to hear more.

“Well, Robert and I were talking and…well we think the Army dug them. They dug up them holes to bury the dead in. And I ain’t no fancy mathematician, but twelve gigantic holes would mean a lot of fucking dead people!” Jan said, his voice rising in panic. He took a deep breath before continuing.

“We think they’re lying to us, trying to keep order and all that shit,” Jan said quietly through the phone, like he was trying to hide a secret.

Paul’s mind reeled, trying to process what he was being told. He had already thought the news stations on television had been keeping information back. Adding the pictures of Times Square, the infected guy on the internet, and now what Jan was telling him, Paul began to piece it all together. The situation was far worse than he had imagined it could be.

“Thanks, for telling me Jan. Can I speak to Robert again please?” Paul asked calmly.

“Umm…sure thing Paul” Jan replied, confused by Paul’s lack of a reaction.

Paul heard the phone being passed over to Robert and glanced over at Ruth who was looking at him with grave concern. She didn’t know all the details but she could tell something awful had happened. He put his hand up to indicate to her that he would tell her in a minute.

BOOK: The Dead Divide Us (Book 1)
6.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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