Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: New Recruits (Part 3)
Daniels and Hanson knew where to look for the four wheel drives; the big Warners Dealership had been a famous landmark in town since before they were born, although it had been a while since either of them had been over that side of town.
“Do you reckon there’ll be much left?” Hanson voiced Daniels own concerns.
“There’s gotta be a couple, maybe still tucked away in the back of the showroom.”
“Yeah, but they’re not going to have much gas in them, are they?”
“There’s no way of telling. Let’s just worry about that when we get there, okay?”
Hanson nodded. They had quite a walk ahead of them and neither knew what to expect. Their nerves kept them quiet; Hanson’s hand never left the hilt of the gun at his hip, and Daniels held his arms out from his body, ready to grab any one of the concealed weapons he had about his person.
It wasn’t that they expected trouble - the town had been pretty much a ghost town for the last month, but you could never be sure what was out there – or who. They didn’t want to risk being jumped by other survivors, let alone anyone who’d succumbed to infection. None of their group knew how long people could survive with it; everyone they’d lost had died in the town clearing.
It had been called an ‘evacuation’ by the military, but no one had left the town alive. And from what they’d seen on TV (before that had been taken down too) the same had occurred in other infected towns too. The realisation of the government’s plan to cull the infected had hit hard, and resulted in the ensuing panic and untempered anarchy that had brought yet more bloodshed, and the bulk of the deaths – in their town at least. It hadn’t been pretty. But as the dust had settled and the town abandoned by the military, the few that had survived had come together. None of the adults had known each other prior to the clearing, but they’d soon connected and bonded in a way only family members did. There’d been little discussion; each person finding their own place and pulling their own weight - even the two teenagers amongst them, knowing they had to, to survive now.
Daniels and Hanson moved along at a fast pace, their alert disposition demanding it, and the dealership came into view sooner than expected. Without speaking they fanned out, approaching the front from either side with guns in hand, until they met in the middle. As expected, the showroom glass wasn’t intact, but there were vehicles in the back, although what the condition they were in couldn’t be determined from outside. They knew they’d have to walk over the broken glass to get inside, and did so as gently as possible, not wanting to make too much sound should there be anyone around. They moved almost back to back, eyes peeled for any unexpected movement, until they reached the line of dark vehicles, which despite some dust and debris were still in mint condition.
Hanson tried one of the car doors, but it was locked. “We’re gonna need keys.” He hissed in a low tone.
Daniels ran his hand under the tyre rim on his side, and Hanson followed suit, but there was nothing. Daniels glanced at the door to the sales office, which was broken open, and jerked his head in that direction. They both moved carefully towards it, but stopped when they heard muffled giggles.
They stared at each other as they listened, unsure how many people were in there. Then Daniels took another step and Hanson covered him as they rushed the trashed office. But it was empty. There was another door - this one intact and closed – leading off to the right, and the smell of cigarette smoke leaked from under it.
Hanson pointed at something to the left, and Daniels saw the row of hooks on the wall, some with keys still dangling. Then he glanced at the closed door where the giggling was coming from, and raised his eyebrows at Daniels. Daniels gave a sharp nod, and they crept up on either side, Hanson taking hold of the doorknob. His eyes were on Daniels, who paused, listening to the occupants, who seemed oblivious to their presence. Then Daniels nodded again, and Hanson gave the door a sharp push open.
The occupants flew back at the sudden entrance, startled, falling onto the floor, flailing in fear and panic. Daniels and Hanson watched them, guns held low, and waited. Slowly the two young boys gathered themselves, and sat up, staring at the men.
“You two alone?” Daniels pocketed his gun.
The smaller of the two nodded, and stood up.
“What’re your names?”
“I’m Bobby, and this is Steve.” Steve joined his friend and they stood looking wide-eyed at the men.
Hanson took in their dirty clothes and scarecrow frames. “You been on your own a while?”
“Yes, sir.” Steve spoke up this time.
“Call me Hanson. Do you know of any other survivors in town?”
The boys looked at each other, as though to check, before shaking their heads.
“Well then you’re welcome to join us. We’re in a group; there are nine of us.”
A look of relief and almost joy crossed their faces.
“But to do that you’ve going to have to pull your weight, you hear?” Daniels wanted to make the terms clear. “And to start with you can help us find keys to them cars out there.”
“Yes sir,” Bobby sounded excited.
“And I ain’t no sir either, I’m Daniels. Come on, let’s get a move on.”
They went back into the office and took what keys they found, each taking different sets to try out the trucks. With four of them it took a lot less time and they ended up with the option of five, two cars and three trucks. They settled on two Chevrolet Silverado trucks, which would give them plenty of room and the horsepower they needed to get up into the mountains in snow.
All the trucks had roughly a quarter of a tank of gas in them, so they spent some time siphoning off what they could into the two they were taking, until Steve observed that he had spotted a pump out the back in the garage. When they checked it out they found they could get it working thanks to its own little generator, and Daniels wondered if their luck would hold out as far as the mountains as they filled up every gasoline can they could lay their hands on and loaded them up into the trucks. They also took all the tyres and tools they found too. They’d never been so relieved to be mobile again as dusk fell and they drove back across town.
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