Waiting for the Dead:The Last Town #3(8)

By: Stephen Knight



Aguilar rolled his eyes. “I can tell you that at least one of your officers isn’t much use against thieving Indian boys.”

Grady sighed but didn’t otherwise respond to the comment.

Gemma looked at Booker. “Max. What do you think we should do?”

When Grady and Aguilar turned toward him, Booker felt the weight come crashing down on his shoulders. Of course, at the end, it would be up to him. He was the one charged with charting the town’s course, though he’d never once imagined he’d be making life or death decisions.

The lights flickered then, and everyone looked up. They flickered again, then stayed on. Booker didn’t know the cause, but he considered it a portent of bad tidings to come. He flipped through the binder before him, glancing at the elaborate plans for defending Single Tree from a million walking corpses. It was crazy. It was ludicrous. It was nothing short of completely, irrevocably insane.

But it had to happen.

“Let’s go with it,” Booker said with a heavy sigh. “I’m no fan of Barry Corbett’s, but I think he’s right about this, this zombie apocalypse thing, and if we can prep the town, we’ll all be the better for it.”

Aguilar sneered. “Simply ridiculous,” he said. “I vote against. Let the proper authorities handle this, at the state level, since we apparently can’t manage things on our own.” This last was delivered with a withering glare directed at Chief Grady.

Grady faced Aguilar emotionlessly. “Well, if that’s how you feel, Hector … I second Max in this.”

“Count me in,” Gemma said. “We all know what’s going on in the world, and pretending it isn’t going to affect us is just stupid.”

“I want to go on record as opposing this action, and I also want you to know that I’ll be contacting Inyo County authorities to report it,” Aguilar said. “This will be a disaster for the town. You all do realize that maniac is talking about actually blocking a state road to prevent outsiders from passing through Single Tree?”

“Actually, that’s only one of the plans,” Grady said. “Flip to the diagram on page one-eighteen. There’s an alternate plan there to wall off Main Street, and build overpasses to connect the separated parts of the town. I would actually go with that one, though it still means we’d have to tear up a state-funded street while it’s in operation.”

Aguilar laughed bitterly. “With all the traffic that’s on it? All that will happen is that we’ll delay thousands of people from getting to wherever they need to go!” He looked at Booker. “Imagine the legal actions that’ll come out of that. All the indemnity claims. Can Single Tree afford this, Max?”

“Can Single Tree afford to not do it, Hector?” Booker shot back. “You’ve already made your disagreement known. Go ahead, go cry to the state and county and try to get an injunction filed. In the meantime, we have three ayes to one nay.”

“This is preposterous,” Aguilar snapped.

“No, this is democracy,” Booker responded. “We’re here in part to keep Single Tree safe, and we need to start work on that.” He pushed back his chair and got to his feet. “Meeting adjourned. I’ll tell Corbett our decision.”



###



The Maserati’s check engine light had been on for almost an hour as Jock Sinclair nursed the vehicle through the night, trapped in thick traffic that seemed present everywhere he turned. Meredith sat in the seat beside him, as silent as a statue. Sinclair had no idea if she was still pissed with him after their argument hours earlier—to be truthful, he couldn’t give a damn, the only difference between her and the rest of the cunts he’d used was that she was an heiress to a fortune that he fully intended to benefit from. He’d smooth it out with her later. He always did. Despite her education and earlier accomplishments in the modeling world, Meredith was one of those women who needed a strong man to give her a direction in life. Even when he managed to piss her off, he was always able to bring her back to his side. Sinclair allowed himself the opportunity to smile smugly at his reflection in the rearview mirror. Women like Meredith were like sheep before a wolf, and Sinclair had always been able to smell them out.

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