Waiting for the Dead:The Last Town #3(7)

By: Stephen Knight



Aguilar sighed heavily and rolled his eyes behind his thick glasses. “Oh really, Chief.”

Grady spun his chair toward him. “Seen the news, Hector? You see what’s going on in New York earlier today? I mean, now the news is fixed on LA, and that city is starting to go under. If mega cities like New York and Los Angeles can’t handle this event, how can we hope to do any better?”

“Do you mean that Corbett’s, ah, plans aren’t going to make a difference?” Booker asked.

Grady shook his head. “Not what I meant. I mean that with our current resources, we don’t have much capability to keep people safe here in Single Tree.”

Booker put his hand on the binder before him. “What’s your opinion on this, Chief? As a law enforcement official?”

“I think it’s audacious and not really very far from crazy. But it’s the only chance we have, if things start to fall apart. Like they did back east, and like they’re starting to here in the west.” Grady opened the copy of Corbett’s presentation and leafed through a few pages. “I mean, listen, the guy’s thought of almost everything. Construction equipment and supplies. Security. Power. Food and water. Disaster planning. Medical concerns. Pretty much everything it would take to keep two thousand people alive for a year or more without outside help. You can’t tell me the guy isn’t anything but thorough, and he put a hell of a lot of thought into this.”

Aguilar snickered. “You know how he came about all this, right?”

Booker shook his head. “How?”

Aguilar looked at him, a haughty smirk on his face. “Corbett thought for sure that the Russians were going to start World War Three. Back in the day, when he came home like a simpering little girl from Vietnam, it was all he could talk about. The Russkies were going to blow us all to hell, he’d say. I’ll bet he had these plans drawn up thirty years ago, and just saved them for a rainy day. Even back then, the egotistical maniac thought he was going to be our eventual savior.” Aguilar made a bowing motion. “All hail King Barry Corbett, the divine and benevolent.”

“Norton seemed to think he was right, and he apparently saw what’s going on in Los Angeles with his own eyes,” Gemma said. “Does that make you stop and think for a second, Hector?”

“Los Angeles?” Aguilar chuckled. “Los Angeles is a loony bin, Gemma. That city’s been living on borrowed time for years. Who cares what’s going on over there? Besides which, Gary Norton is a movie producer. The only thing he’s had to think about for years is wiping down his couch between casting calls with seventeen year old Italian models.”

Grady sighed loudly and rubbed his eyes. “Hector, I’m sorry, but you’re a raging asshole.”

Aguilar’s face turned dark. “You—”

Booker held up his hands. “Okay, okay, let’s stop with the personal attacks! We have to start considering everything we’ve been told and reach a decision. Whatever we think of Corbett, he’s provided us with a lot of information and a plan that he’s ready to implement. We have, as I see it, two things to consider.” Booker held up a finger. “One: is Corbett right about what’s happening in the outside world? According to what we see on the news, and what the Chief here has added, it seems he is as right as he could be, under the circumstances.” He held up a second finger. “And two: do we allow him to proceed with his plan? These are the only two things we should be discussing, in my mind. Everything else is superfluous.”

“I don’t know about item one, but item two—can we even do what Corbett wants?” Gemma asked. “I mean, legally. Can we? We don’t own the town, we don’t control access to it, and we don’t maintain any of the resources that come through it. Inyo County does, and where they don’t, the city of Los Angeles and the state of California do.”

“That’s just it, Gemma,” Grady said. “Inyo’s going down for the count. LA is probably already on the mat. I know the governor has called up the National Guard, but no one has reached out to my office about any assistance being developed for Single Tree. And truthfully, if we wait for too long, we might find ourselves …” The police chief struggled for words, then gave in with a shrug. “Well, look, I just want you all to know that we’ll do our best, but Single Tree’s police force isn’t going to be much use against a legion of zombies.”

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