Meldrum, KY. / 17:32 Hours / November 27, 2013
It only takes us about ten minutes to arrive in tiny town of Meldrum, KY, which is more like a cluster of houses off the highway. We park the vehicles on the edge of town, about half mile from the first house, and slink our way through the neighborhood on foot. I suppose we’re house hunting, in a sinister way, but we need to find a suitable place to hold up in for at least a night. We also need to ditch the Chevelle for a more practical, family-style car, which has me pouting slightly, though I’m the one who suggested it.
I hand Jimmy the extra 30-30 we have. It’s much more practical then the double barrel that almost left him dog food. Carl still has his pistol and machete, but he’s aching for a long rifle. He’s beginning to get the hang of his pistol and doesn’t want to switch it up now, sense he’s getting better with the pistol. We empty out the bags, so if we find anything in town we have room.
At the end of a row of hedges, the first house comes into view. I crouch lower behind the shrubbery and the others follow my lead, “Wait here guys. I’ll check out the house and signal when it’s clear.” They all nod, eyes wide.
A low, split-rail fence separates the sidewalk from the yard and I jump it with ease, continuing on my way to the closest window. The sun is setting but I can see in through the glass into what appears to be a tidy bedroom. Pinned to the walls at strategically rebellious angles are a handful of posters boasting clean-shaven with artificial smiles, their eyes returning my own gaze with an uncomfortable amount of smoldering. More eyes question my peeping-tom stare from the bed where a group of pink and purple bunnies, puppies and unicorns sit tucked back against frilly white pillows. The room is quiet and peaceful, everything in its place, but I decide to move to the next window before I attempt to enter it. Again, another bedroom. This one is quite the opposite. Clothes and miscellaneous items litter the floor, the bed sheets rumpled and strewn about. My guess is that this is the brother’s room. Two rooms are clear, so I move on to the next window which is smaller and higher off the ground. The glass is frosted so I can’t see in. Must be a bathroom.
I have to turn the corner of the house to check the rest of the rooms, so I signal back to Carl giving him a hand sign I’m hoping he understands. To my surprise, he does, and I give him a thumb up. I gesture again for him to move to another position where he can still see me and he slides around the corner to get a better angle. Again he understood and proceeded to follow the command.
There’s a deck in the back of the house with a sliding glass door. I check window as I move towards the deck. One is clear, allowing me to see into what looks like the kitchen, but the other two have their blinds pulled down. I move up on the deck and slowly make my way to the door. My right hand reaches out to test the knob and it turns freely in my hand. There’s a slight suction sound as I gently push the door inwards with the barrel of my rifle aiming inside. I look back to Carl and make a V with two fingers pointing one at each eye them into the house. He nods.
Entering through the kitchen, I turn on the Surefire light attached to my rifle using the pressure pad. My eyes drop down to where a large amount of blood is pooled on the floor. Red blood splatter covers the side of an island that sits in the center of the main cooking area. Chairs are knocked over and dishes are smashed, clear signs of a struggle, but there’s no sign of a body. I move deeper into the house, trying to avoid the blood and smashed porcelain.
Except for my own footsteps, the house is eerily silent. I search each room and find no sign of the undead. Whoever had died must have come back and left the house out the sliding door with the rest of the residents. I return to the deck and wave for Carl and the others to move in.
No paperwork, no real estate agents, just a quick tour and our small group has its first piece of property. Once everyone settles in, I gather them all in the kitchen. “I think we’ll be safe here for the night, but I think it’s best if we all sleep in one room tonight. We don’t know how safe this town is.” They all agree and Carl adds a motion in our informal town meeting.
“Before we do anything else, we should check the house for anything useful, just in case we need to leave in a hurry.”
We all spread out around the house to begin our search. I take the basement where I think I might find some useful items. The stairwell is dark and the stairs crack as I progress down each step. The feeling that I use to get as a kid going into the depths of the basement have returned. Goose bumps and a chill are the first sign, followed by the hair on the back of my neck tingling. I know if there is anything down here it would have exposed its self by now. I stop at the bottom of the stairs and shine the light around the room, carefully inspecting around each box I come across. In the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of a silhouette sneaking across the room. My stomach jumps into my throat as the rifle comes up to find the creature. The beam of light reveals it’s a sowing manikin, sitting in the corner amongst a pile of boxes. A sigh relief escapes me, and I turn return up stairs when I see a case for a flare gun. It seems odd to find in the middle of the country with no oceans or lakes around, but don’t think twice about grabbing it.
I return to the living room and see I’m the first one back; I take a seat and sit in silence waiting on the others to return.
Jimmy and Kaylee Ann enter the living room about fifteen minutes later, “How’d you two make out?”
“Not good, we only found a small supply of aspirin, some bandages and a half a bottle of rubbing alcohol.” Kaylee Ann says a bit perturbed.
Before I can talk Carl comes in, “Hey guys. I didn’t hear you come back up Jack.”
“I was just relaxing on the couch.”
“Hope your all hungry I found some canned goods, pasta, and coffee in the cupboards.”
“Sounds good, I’ll cook it up.” Kaylee Ann says moving to the table to grab some of the stuff Carl found.
We stash the rest of the newly looted items in are our bags. Kaylee Ann is happily cooking some of the pasta on the camp stove, in the living room away from the contaminated kitchen.
“I’m going to take a walk around outside before we eat and check out the area before it gets to dark.” I get up and grab my rifle that’s resting against the end of the couch.
Carl starts to get up from the couch, “I’ll go with you.”
“Sit down, relax, I’ll go with Jack this time.” Jimmy waves both hands up and down, motioning to Carl to sit.
“You sure, I don’t mind?”
“Yeah, yeah it’s no trouble. Besides I could use some time in the fresh air.”
We head outside into the cold air. The house isn’t much warmer then outside but the lack of wind makes a big difference. Jimmy isn’t saying anything but I can see him having a conversation in his head and is itching to talk to me about something.
“What’s up kid? What ‘cha got on your mind?”
“Nothing, I just wanted some air.”
His shyness is amusing to me. It’s clear he has something to say to me but is just to timid to spit it out, so I push him a bit, having a feeling I know what it’s about.”
“How’s Kaylee Ann holding up?”
“Come on kid. Stop beating around the bush and spit it out.”
“Ok, ok it’s just, I need to marry Kaylee Ann.”
“That might be a little difficult these days, don’t you think? Why can’t you to just grab some rings off one of the walking K jewelers out here.”
“It’s not that simple.”
“Well good luck finding a priest these days.”
He stops abruptly in his tracks and lets out a long exhale. “Jack, she’s pregnant!”
“No shit. Congratulations kid.”
“What am I supposed to do? I’m not prepared for this. How do you raise a kid in this world?”
“Relax Jim, we’ll all chip in. It’ll be fine.”
“Thanks Jack, but please don’t let Kaylee Ann know I told you. She doesn’t want any of you to worry.”
“It’s in the vault kid.”
We return to the house to find that dinner is ready. The hot pasta is a welcomed meal and fills my shrunken stomach quickly, and judging by the left overs everyone else was getting use to smaller meals. After the meal Kaylee Ann uses the coffee filters and makes little tea like bags of coffee out of them so we each had a nice hot cup of coffee. The warm meal was delightful, but whit a full stomach I started to get tired. But the coffee helped me fight off the urge to fall asleep.
I volunteer to take first watch again. I take a kitchen chair to sit in by the front window; I don’t want anything too comfortable that I might be tempted to nod off in. The rest of them settle in around the living room and quickly zonk out. I gaze out the window, the first sign of the dead stroll by, heading away from town towards the way we had come. I watch another as it tries catching a cat before it darts up a tree. I find a tasteless humor in the cat’s situation. The image of Jimmy and Kaylee Ann doing the same pops into my mind, and the humor runs dry.
I look over at the group resting peacefully. Jimmy is clutching Kaylee Ann in his arms holding her close. I hope their dreams take them far from this place to a better time.
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