nearly completed and plans to redirect the trucks and crews southbound to pick up the livestock Craig and I found.

“That shouldn’t set us back long on the walls around the housing and vehicle areas. The walls should be finished within the next few days if we have decent weather,” Bannerman relates. “After we finish with the stables, barns, and greenhouses, I would like to use the crews to attempt moving one of the water towers in the area to our location.”

“Will that take away from any of our other endeavors?” I ask.

Bannerman pauses before replying. “No, I think we should be able to keep on with the walls and gathering of supplies. I won’t really know until we take a look at what relocating one will entail,” he answers. “Once it’s in place though, we won’t have to rely on the pump near as much, except to fill the tower that is, and we’ll be able to provide a decent watering system for any livestock we bring in.”

“Okay. I think we’ll be ready to head south to look for some of the families and pick up the AC-130 within the next couple of days. Once we clear the area out, I think that will give us more breathing room to focus on our move to the bases. Oh, I’m thinking of taking Red, Blue, and Echo teams down if that won’t interfere with anything here,” I say addressing both Lynn and Bannerman.

“No, we should be good,” Lynn answers.

“Yeah, I don’t see a problem with manpower although that will slow building the wall some,” Bannerman replies.

“We shouldn’t be gone for more than five days,” I say. “The overall plan is to fly down to Canon AFB, spend the next day looking for Gonzalez’ family, head over to Lubbock and look for McCafferty’s the day after, refuel at Canon AFB and pick up the other aircraft, then beat cheeks home.”

Lynn then updates everyone on the training programs currently underway. “The current class in phase one should be finishing on time in a couple of weeks along with the second class going through phase two,” she says finishing her report.

“That’ll be nice to have others trained. Are there any that look like they’ll be good permanent additions to the teams?” I ask.

“There are a couple that show promise but I won’t really know until they finish. So far, no one has asked to be on a team but we’ve really only started. We’ll just have to wait and see,” Lynn answers.

“How many did we pick up today?” I ask directing my question toward Drescoll.

“No one showed up,” Drescoll replies.

This comes both as a surprise and not one. It’s surprising because we’ve always had people show up at the previous meets. It’s not a surprise because we were close to the bases and, with the activity we’ve shown around there, anyone close would have already responded. At least one would think.

“Well, we’ll just keep at it. I guess we’re not going to find people everywhere we try,” I say.

The meeting breaks up without much further to add and we retire to our various cubicles. The living cubicles Bannerman has arranged cover almost the entire second floor. There are over a hundred people occupying our little sanctuary and we’ll have to come up with additional space soon, especially if we find a greater number of survivors. Lynn and I adjourn to our little living space which isn’t much more than a couple of cots set within wooden walls and a blanket covering the entrance. We plop down on our beds almost in unison. I’m hesitant to ask my next question but curiosity gets the better of me.

“Hon, have you spoken with Craig about what took them so long to get here?” I ask with hesitancy.

Lynn looks at me and then down at her lap but not before I see the beginnings of tears in her eyes. She remains silent as she contemplates her lap.

“I’m sorry. We won’t talk about it if you don’t want to but when you do, I’m here,” I say feeling tightness grip my heart. I feel bad for her and for my insensitivity in asking. I should have waited for her to bring it up.

“No, that’s okay,” she finally says with a sigh. “Jack, what I haven’t told you before is that my sister is, or was, a drug addict. You know my sister and I don’t talk much and we haven’t in some time. I never told you this because I was ashamed of her and didn’t want any connection with her lifestyle.” Lynn pauses briefly before continuing, “Anyway, Craig and Mom landed, found a car and drove to my dad’s house. My dad wasn’t around but they found my sister in the house. She was going through pretty bad withdrawals so they stayed with her. By that time, they had a pretty good idea of what was going on so fortified the house as best they could and Craig foraged for water and food. It took my sister a little while to recover and, according to what Craig said, it wasn’t pretty. They had to keep quiet during the night as I guess you can expect but that was hard to do, especially with what my sister was going through. They managed with one of them staying with her every hour during the night to keep her quiet. Well, she eventually starting coming around and feeling better, to the point that Craig and Mom talked about leaving to meet up with us here. That’s when my sister disappeared. They were both exhausted and fell asleep close to dawn one day and when they woke, she was gone. Craig searched the area during the day and they stayed hoping she would return. He said the hardest was the nights when they heard the screeches of the night runners and envisioned her out there defenseless. They stayed for a week and a half afterwards before Craig decided they couldn’t stay there indefinitely and should be moving on but Mom wouldn’t have any part of it. She told Craig he should go on but that she would stay and wait for my sister. Well, of course Craig wasn’t going to leave Mom so they stayed. My sister never returned and finally Mom agreed she wasn’t going to. That’s when they made their way here.”

Still staring at her lap, Lynn finishes with a silence that is deafening. Several tears fall onto her fatigues. Reaching over, I pull her close. She buries her head against my shoulder and her body shakes as she weeps for the loss of her sister and dad. There isn’t anything I can do except offer her my shoulder and hug her for as long as she needs. Her body eventually stops shaking and she pulls away to look into my eyes.

“Thank you. I needed to get that off my chest,” she says and lies down. I wrap my arms around her and we fall asleep. Her story is a reminder that the world is not a safe place. I feel grateful for our place and the people around us that make it relatively safe. I still have the images in my head but they’ve been relegated to a place that I can control. I drift off to see what my dreams hold.

The sound of feet slapping on the pavement is a familiar one; one he has heard every night while on the hunt. The small pack he joined a while ago is running ahead down the darkened street. A faint scent of prey lingers but the swirling of the air around the buildings makes it hard to determine the actual direction. He is hungry and the odor indicates a meal that will feed the entire pack if they can get to it first.

Buildings pass as they turn down street after street searching. The screams of other packs drift on the night air in the distance. Images of prey found filter into his head but they are too far away to respond. His pack leader has found food on most of their nightly hunts so he is sure they will feed tonight. The scent grows strong down one street and the pack turns. Adrenaline surges as the thrill of the hunt takes over.

Several streets later, with the smell of food growing stronger, he stops. Grabbing his head from the overwhelming pain, he sinks to his knees. A dizzy feeling accompanies the deep ache making him feel that he is going to fall completely to the ground. He vaguely hears the sound of his pack member’s feet stop. The sense of them, once strong and providing a sense of assurance, fades and then vanishes altogether.

Where the hell am I? He thinks looking down at pavement below his head and slumped over body. How the hell did I get here? Where is here? The last memory he has is of taking the flu shot and feeling like shit. He headed to bed and is now kneeling on some unknown street. The only thing that comes to his fuzzy and confused mind is that he must have sleep-walked in a feverish dream.

A loud shriek penetrates his thoughts and he looks up. The night is dark but he makes out ghostly figures running towards him a short distance away. What the fuck? He thinks watching them close in quickly. More screams issue from four figures racing his way. He knows a good thing when he sees it and this definitely doesn’t fit in that category. Adrenaline pours into his body and he starts to rise with the flee portion of the fight or flee response taking hold.

He is only able to bring his arm up in an attempt to ward off the bodies as the nearest ones leap into the air and slam into him. The impact knocks him backwards and slams him to the ground. He is only vaguely aware of the growling and snarling above him as his head contacts the hard, paved surface bringing stars to his eyes. His mind is reeling from the confusion but is quickly supplanted with sheer pain. He feels more than sees teeth biting into his face, neck, and arms. He recognizes a scream, which rises over the others, as his own.

Pale, snarling faces, reeking of body odor, are close to his. He fights and squirms to get away from those on

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