Waiting for the Dead:The Last Town #3(5)

By: Stephen Knight



“What are you doing?” she asked. “You don’t understand, I want you to take him away from me!”

“I know what you want,” Reese said, “but I can’t. Look.” He pulled the neck of the boy’s shirt aside, exposing the bite wound. The mother’s eyes went wide when she saw the angry injury. She shook her head in denial as tears welled up in her eyes.

“No. No, no, no,” she whispered as she pulled the crying boy back into her arms.

“What do you want us to do, Reese?” Narvaez asked.

“What do you mean,” Reese said, even though he very well knew the purpose of Narvaez’s question.

Narvaez didn’t say anything, just looked at Reese and waited. Reese didn’t answer him. He moved past the Guard officer and started making his way back to where Bates stood. Narvaez followed him a short distance.

“Reese, you’re the guy who’s supposed to tell us what to do here,” Narvaez said.

Reese turned around, suddenly pissed off. “What do you want me to say, Narvaez? Kill them? Is that what you want to hear?”

“I don’t want to do that,” Narvaez said. “It’s not what I signed up for. But we have to do something with them. We can’t leave them up here.”

“I’ll tell the hospital staff,” Reese said.

“What? Why? What good is that going to do?”

Reese turned back to the Guardsman, almost slipping and sliding in the bloody gruel underfoot. “Because I don’t have any other guidance for you right now, Narvaez. That’s why.”

“You need to get some, then,” Narvaez responded. “Seriously, man. Someone has to start making some really tough calls, because they’re not the only ones.” The National Guard officer pointed back in the direction of the mother and child they had just left. “It’s spreading, Reese. It’s spreading fast now.”



SINGLE TREE, CALIFORNIA



In the town council chamber, Max Booker sat with the others as they leafed through the thick binders left behind by Barry Corbett and his men. It was interesting stuff, to say the least. The plans Corbett had put together were extensive, and the materials lists were almost thirty pages long all by themselves. According to the presentation, everything had been collected and was waiting on trucks parked at various locations throughout the town. Booker knew that most of the trucks were at the airport, but others had been spotted in the parking lots of local businesses. Booker had no idea which semi-trailer contained what, but he had no doubt that “product placement” was by design, not happenstance. Judging by the plans Corbett had drawn up, nothing had been left to chance. There was little doubt on Booker’s part that the wily old fox had prepositioned everything in accordance to when and where it would be needed.

And the diagrams themselves were works of either an inspired imagination, or a detail-oriented survivalist freak. Booker didn’t think Corbett was overly imaginative, so he automatically lumped him into the freak arena. He shook his head as he read the details. Plank steel walls twenty feet high, topped by concertina wire and surrounded on the outside by more coils of wire on the ground, called tanglefoot wire. Inside, another set of walls atop high dirt berms, from which battlements would be stationed. Trenches surrounding the outer perimeter that were ten feet deep and thirty feet wide. Inside the barriers, smaller, more modular defenses would be erected, so that incursions could be contained without the rest of the town being directly threatened. All manner of armaments were listed as well, including ammunition counts and types. Booker scanned the list, not because he was fascinated by weapons—far from it, he was never the type to be a card-carrying NRA fanatic, he was a politician—but to see just how far gone Corbett was. Seventy thousand three-inch shotgun shells with #3 buckshot. Two million rounds of M855 fifty-five grain in 5.56-millimeter. Two thousand LWRC International IC-Enhanced rifles. Two thousand Smith & Wesson M&P45 pistols. On and on it went, with more rifles, more ammunition, more instruments of violence. Booker was genuinely horrified.

“Well, I see Mr. Corbett isn’t worried about violating any state gun laws, seeing as how he’s basically broken almost every one California has,” Chief Grady said, as if reading Booker’s mind.

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