the conclusion to part 1 of 10/13
| Chapter Fifteen
Once again we were running as fast as we could through the snow. We all had our rifles out now and were trying to avoid the birds flying around our heads. Occasionally one of us would fire a shot into the air and they would back off a bit. Usually after this much running I would be too tired to even move at this point but after everything that had all ready happened today my adrenaline level was so high that I didn’t feel a thing. We had gotten another two blocks down the road and could see the top of the church now. Mark fired another shot into the air and the birds backed off, but this time they kept backing off and flew away. The three of us stopped for a second and looked at each other confused when we heard the sound that must have scared the birds off, it was a very loud roar. “What was that? Another lion?” mark asked looking a little scared. “I don’t know it sounded different, bigger.” I answered him. We were still standing there in the middle of the road, I was trying to think of the best course of action knowing the sound came from somewhere straight ahead of us, I knew they were doing the same. “Which way do we go? Whatever it is, it’s up there.” Katie said pointing toward the church. We were right at the intersection after the second block, right at the halfway point. “We gotta go to the church; we’re going to walk right into it.” Mark said looking to me, hoping I had a better answer. “what if we let it come to us?” I said looking at them. When no one answered me I continued “its in front of us, if it comes to us we’ll have a better chance of killing it.” “That might not be a bad idea.” Mark said but before he could say anymore he was interrupted by Katie. “I don’t think that’s an option, look!” She said pointing down the road. Coming toward us about a half of a block away and walking right down the middle of the road was what appeared to be a grizzly bear.
“Oh shit! What now?” mark asked staring at the bear, which was walking methodically toward us. From the looks of it the bear must have been close to one of the houses on the side of the road because we couldn’t see it until just now. “Should we start shooting?” Katie asked. “No, I’m not even sure these rifles could kill it from up close, its just too big.” Mark said. “We cut through the backyards, its going to have trouble following us if it has to go over fences.” I told them and when I saw them both nod I yelled “now!” We ran quickly for the houses on the right side of the street because the church was on the right side of the street. As soon as we took off running the bear did the same thing, straight for us. The first yard didn’t have a fence but the next one did, I glanced over my shoulder as I hopped the fence and saw the bear was already in the first yard it was closing in on us. I was the last to jump the fence so as soon as I hit the ground I yelled “go! It’s right behind us.” But mark was already getting to the next fence. Katie was fairly athletic and didn’t have too much trouble hopping the fences but because she was so short mark and I still needed to help her over some of them. There were about eight houses on this block and the whole next block consisted of the high school and its parking lot. If we managed to make it that far we would be exposed for the entire length of the lot until we could get into the school. We were now halfway down the block, in the backyard of the fourth house, again being last over I glanced back again. The bear was nowhere to be seen, I sat on top of the fence for a second trying to see in some of the other yards but I couldn’t see any sign of it. As I hopped down to the ground I saw Mark helping Katie climb the next fence about fifteen feet away. Then as I was getting to my feet I saw the bear rush past the far side of the house and collide with mark and Katie sending them both flying. The bear stood on its hind legs and roared, it had to be at least ten feet tall, and it immediately went for Katie who was still lying in the snow. “No!” I screamed as I pulled my rifle from my back and started firing at it. I hit it at least five times but it seemed to have no affect. It again stood on its hind legs right over Katie, I started firing into its belly as fast as I could until the rifle started clicking. Then I saw something that could have killed me right there, the bear dropped back to all fours and landed on Katie’s motionless body.
“No! You son of a bitch.” I screamed in the direction of the bear. The bear was now looking directly at me. Mark was still not moving; he had been thrown backward toward the house in the initial collision and was now behind the bear. “mark are you ok?” I yelled to him but got no response. The bear was still just staring at me about ten feet away, I through my empty rifle down and pulled out my 9mm handgun and my backup revolver. Not really caring what happened next, I charged the grizzly at full speed. The bear stood again on its hind legs, I aimed with both guns but I didn’t start firing until I was at point blank range. I got to about two feet away and I started shooting the bear came down on me with all its weight knocking me to the ground, but I managed to move just at the last second to avoid being crushed and ended up half under it and half next to it. I felt all the wind rush out of my body and terrible pain from one of my legs, I actually started to black out at one point but the pure rage kept me conscious. I started squirming as much as I could to get a better position and get the revolver out of my jacket, the bear was hurt but also still moving and trying to find a part of me to bite. I beat it to the punch managed to get my revolver out of my pocket and under its mouth as it was still trying to bite at me and I unloaded four shots to its head, it slumped back down on top of me and stopped moving.
I now had my legs trapped under the midsection of this huge bear and I had no idea how bad my injuries were. I started trying to pull myself out from under the bear and wasn’t really getting anywhere when I felt a hand grab mine. Mark starting pulling and together we were able to get me out from under the bear. “How bad are you hurt?” he asked me as I was trying to get up. “Katie” was my only response, as I got to my feet but quickly fell as I felt a sharp pain go all through my left leg. “I’m so sorry man, she’s gone.” He told me quietly. “No, I need to see her.” I said. With that he helped me to make my away over to wear she was laying. Her body was completely crushed, I can’t describe it any further than that because I just refuse to put into words, it was by far the worst thing I’d ever seen in my life. Right there I broke down and lost it, I refused to accept the fact that she was gone. Mark forced me to my feet and had to half drag me into the house. For the first half hour in that house we both just sat there, I was still in the midst of a breakdown and he wasn’t about to interfere. I was crying and screaming, I must have punched the wall at least a dozen times. When I looked up I saw he was crying too. “I think I broke my ankle, and at least one rib.” I told him trying to crack a smile. I noticed then that he had been holding his left arm the whole time and had a large gash over his right eye. “My arms broken and I think I have a concussion.” He said laughing through the tears. Without saying anything else we started rummaging through the house for supplies. Mark made a sling out of a flannel shirt he had found in the closet, and I did the best I could to bandage the wound over his eye. After icing my ankle for about fifteen minutes I wrapped it tightly with an ace bandage, believe me it hurt like hell to do, then I put my boot back on and wrapped that tightly with duct tape. It was still going to hurt like a bitch to walk but at least I would be able to move, even if it would be slowly and with a severe limp. We had also found a bottle of jack Daniels in one of the cupboards and had been passing it back and forth and drinking straight from the bottle for the last ten minutes or so. “To kill the pain.” Mark said as he picked it up and handed it to me, but I knew he didn’t mean the physical pain. After I finished wrapping my ankle I stood up and took a few steps, then I chugged from the bottle one last time, mark did the same. “How does it feel?” he asked me pointing to my ankle. “To be honest, I don’t even feel it, way too much other hurting going on.” I answered him somehow finding a way to smile. We got our stuff together and walked over to the front door, we were in no shape to climb fences, besides we were both in the mood for a couple confrontations. “You ready to finish this?” Mark asked me and held out his fist. “Why the hell not? One last stand.” I answered him. We touched fists and walked out the front door.
We began walking down the street, we were in no hurry now, we had loaded the guns with the last of the ammunition, and we each had one rifle and our handgun and revolver now. Mark was able to hold the gun even with his bad arm but I knew it would hurt him badly to fire it. All the weapons were fully loaded but we had no backup ammo whatsoever, the few bullets we did have we just left behind, they wouldn’t matter anyway. We continued walking down the middle of the road and reached the high school parking lot without incident. “Through the street or the lot?” I asked him “the lot. Then we can cut through the high school. We’ll us that side door.” He answered. The high school was a long straight three floor building. Once we got through the lot we could use the side door which was located right at the end of the parking lot and if we went straight down the hallway there was another door that led out to the sidewalk directly across the street from the church, seemed easy enough. “Sounds good.” I told him. We walked to the side of the road and enter the parking lot through the gate, the lot was mostly empty but since some of the residents around here used it on the weekends there were about twenty cars here and there. We had just walked past a station wagon when we heard a low growl. “It’s about time.” Mark said looking at me with a smile. “Yeah I was waiting for a fight.” I told him as we watched a wolf walk out from behind the station wagon. Just then a few more wolves appeared from behind some of the other cars and began to surround us, I counted eight all together. “Ready to do that whole down in a blaze of glory thing?” I asked mark. “It’s just what I’ve been waiting for.” He said to me laughing. We then got down on one knee with our backs to each other, mark leveraged his rifle on his hip so he wouldn’t have to use his bad arm. As soon as were set I said “let’s do it!” and we started firing.
As soon as we started firing the wolves attacked all at once, and seeing as how it was pretty close range they were on us almost instantly. I knew I had killed two before two more were on me. I landed on my back and felt them biting and scratching me but I kept firing; I just didn’t care at this point I just wanted them to die. I knew mark was in a similar situation next to me and he was still shooting too which was a good sign. Then one wolf fell away and I had just one to deal with but it was right on top of me trying to get to my throat, I aimed right at its face and pulled the trigger. Click. For a split second I contemplated just letting him have me, but that’s apparently just not in me. I hit it in the face as hard as I could with my rifle, it backed off a bit and I pulled out both handguns and started firing. The wolf lunged one last time but never made it to me, as soon as it fell I turned toward mark, and saw I didn’t need my guns at this moment. Mark was sitting up again with two dead wolves right next to him and two more in front of him. “Are you alive?” He asked me. “Yeah I think so.” I said to him laughing. I had deep bites on my left arm and shoulder and all over my right leg. “Ah, my neck mark said as he started getting to his feet. He had a deep bite on the left side of his neck and his right forearm was badly chewed up, he was bleeding very badly. After a few minutes we both managed to get to our feet. We left our empty rifles in the snow and made our way into the school. By the time we got to the door I was basically dragging mark along and we were both leaving a trail of blood in the snow. We got into the school and I leaned him up against one of the lockers. Mark laid his head back against the locker and started laughing “that was kind of fun wasn’t it?” He asked me weakly. “Yeah it was.” I answered him; it was just now that I realized he wasn’t going to make it any further.
After a few minutes of talking about the fight with the wolves along with some talk of the other battles of the day mark looked at me solemnly and said “this isn’t your fault you know. None of it is, not me, not Katie, not Sarah, none of them. You did the best you could to lead us through this, you gave it absolutely everything you had.” He finished and put his hand on my shoulder. “Yeah I did but it wasn’t enough.” I said and lowered my head. “If you manage to make it out of this thing alive, don’t you dare go blaming yourself for any of it, that wouldn’t be fair to any of us.” He told me sternly, looking me in the eye. “I’ve got nothing, why should I even try.” I told him trying to fight back the tears. “Because you have to. You have to do it for all of us. And none of this matters anyway because you’re too damn stubborn to give up anyway and you know it.” He told me smiling a little bit. “You’re right about that.” I said laughing through the tears. “I’ll get there, I promise you that much.” I told him. With that settled we went back to talking about nonsense. Mark got weaker and weaker by the second, and within twenty minutes he was gone too.
After mark died I said my goodbyes and got up to start the trek to the church. Because of the promise I made to mark I was more determined than ever to make it there, it didn’t matter what got in my way. I had no idea what I was going to do once I got there, I would be alone in a fallout shelter big enough to hold two hundred people with no food or supplies. None of that mattered now, as long as I got there. I got through the empty high school without incident and walked back out into the snow. The street was empty and I could see the church standing tall right there in front of me. Normally I would have run for it but I just didn’t have it in me at this point. I walked across the street with pain in both my legs now, but nothing came. I walked up the stairs slowly and walked right through the big double doors and into the church. I found it hard to believe that after all we had been through that was it, it was that easy. I was half expecting some awful creature to be waiting in the church but it was empty as well. I went right to the basement, I wasn’t feeling very religious at the moment, then I walked straight to the door for the underground fallout shelter. I went down the long flight of stairs and opened the heavy inner door. I had never been inside but it was mostly what I had expected. It was a very large room with rows of cots along both walls; I could also see a backroom filled with supplies. The surprising thing however was that the room was filled with people.
Somewhere between seventy five and eighty people were scattered throughout the large room, most of the people I recognized from around the neighborhood. This explained the missing people, the empty town, but how? I grabbed the first person I got to and older lady who was currently talking to a little girl of about ten years old. “how did you know to come here? How did all these people get here?” I asked her in a frantic voice. I was almost mad because they made it and we didn’t even though it was a stupid reason to be mad. “You led us here.” The woman said simply, looking a little confused. Before I could question her about her strange response the little girl next to her spoke up, “You saved us all, thank you.” She said and hugged me around the waist. “But I don’t understand, I didn’t save anyone.” I said but I was drowned out by the murmur of people around. They were shaking my hand and patting me on the back and thanking me. I was about to scream from confusion when I saw them. Katie, mark, jay, Allison, Sarah, all of them even Lisa were sitting on a group of cots in the corner. I ran towards them but before I could get there everything went black.
I opened my eyes and when it came into focus I couldn’t believe what I saw, I was in my own bedroom. I jumped up and out of the bed sending blankets flying everywhere. “What’s the matter baby?” Katie asked sitting up in bed and looking scared. “No. there’s no way it was just a dream, no way.” I said to no one at all. I sat down and waited for it to fade the way dreams always did, but it didn’t it felt like it had happened only seconds ago and the pain it brought was all to real. I grabbed Katie and held her tight “thank god you’re ok.” I said confusing her even further. I looked at the clock it was seven in the morning, three hours until it would start; I was sure now it would. I couldn’t explain how I knew it was real but I knew it was and I had to save them. I ran to marks room and woke him up. “Mark I need to talk to you in my room right now, it’s important.” I said and walked back to my room, knowing he would follow. When he walked in he said “what’s going on? What’s wrong?” I answered by talking to both mark and Katie “I know you both trust me so just listen and know that I mean what I’m saying, we need to get everyone here as well as anyone we can get to go with us to the fallout shelter under the church or we’re all going to die today.” “How?” Katie asked “you wouldn’t believe if I told you, but the snow is going to start in about three hours and that’s how it starts.” I told her. “Ok lets start packing, and get everyone else up.” Mark said to me. The next two hours were spent packing and waking everyone up, a few people needed some convincing but mark and Katie helped without questioning how I knew. We loaded my truck as well as jays and together we drove to foodtown. We warned everyone we saw, a few came, most were too skeptical, but we always left them by telling them about the snow in hopes they would come once they saw it. We bought as many groceries as we could, I maxed out both my credit cards and mark did the same, then we headed for the church. At 10 o’clock that morning the snow would come, a good amount of people from town followed. Part of me was relived when I saw it because I knew I wasn’t crazy, snow this time of year really couldn’t be a coincidence. By the time the first earthquake hit we were all safely underground with about thirty other people and still no explanations as to where the other people had gone, and what could possibly be going on.
Four days after arriving at the church JD and Katie were relaxing together in the small office they had transformed into their bedroom when Mark poked his head halfway into the door way and said “we’ve got 3 new arrivals out front.” A few small groups of people had trickled in during the first thirty six hours but none since. the conditions were far too intense. All of the descriptions of the outside world had been eerily similar to the dream that had started all of this mess in the first place. “well make them comfortable, if they’re willing to tell us how the hell they made it through I wanna hear it. Maybe its getting better out there.” Mark shook his head and with a small smile and said “that’s just it, the one guy wants to talk right now and he says he’ll only talk to you.” Ever since he led them across town to safety at the church the group had started looking to JD as a leader. And once news spread of his dream and how real it had become he had become something of a legend. “mark, I keep telling you guys, even if it was a vision it doesn’t make me your leader.” He said with a little frustration but Mark’s smile only widened as he answered “that’s just it he didn’t ask to speak to our leader, he asked for you by name.
JD and Katie followed down the hall, hurrying to keep up with the brisk pace mark was setting. They both asked rapid fire questions as they walked trying to determine some way he could have found out he was but they quickly found it futile. The situation was as it looked, three men walked out of the snow and pounded on the door, the two guards opened the door and as soon as the men were inside the older man, who had introduced himself as Carver simply smiled and said “Can you please tell JD I need to speak with him immediately, it is a matter of life or death.”