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Thread: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

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    Default Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    I didn't want to commandeer Rick's really valuable survival role playing thread with my less helpful, more entertaining story. So I thought I'd start a new thread with each segment offered as individual entries. Please comment any way you wish. I'd love to hear all manner of feedback as this story may morph into a full blown novel in the not-too-distant future.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Envy the Dead One -

    “Damn it all!!” Briggs kicked the fender out of sheer aggravation. “Friggin’ thing’s never gonna work. What, was I asleep during autoshop?”

    He climbed out of the engine compartment of the half ton Ford. Frustration turned to anger. He threw the 5/8 inch into the weeds. After stomping around the yard muttering obscenities, the thirty-nine year old man composed what was left of himself.

    “Easy man. You’re losing it.” He watched the dust blowing through the burned out neighborhood. In the distance someone screamed. The sound of glass breaking echoed from a block or two away. Don't want nothin' to do with that.

    “I gotta get out of here. I gotta stop talking to myself. Just who the hell am I supposed to talk to? Huh, you idiot? Molly and the kids ran to the shelter in Greeley. Everyone else disappeared or up and died on me. There’s nothing left.”

    Matthew Briggs turned and walked the two miles back to his makeshift lean-to at the far end of the wheat field. His walk seemed to take on an air of confidence. He had decided.

    The virus hit like a hurricane back in ’14. The missiles fell from the sky like rain a few months later. The flashes on the horizon were overwhelming, something out of a weird movie. Surreal even. Denver… gone. Colorado Springs… gone. Boulder… vaporized… friggin hippies. What do they think now of the global communist movement they loved so much?

    Briggs hunkered down in situ for a long time. He tried to get Molly to stay. He succeeded for two years. One day, she just up and left. Said there had to be something better out there and that living in a shithole on the outskirts of Platteville, Colorado was making her crazy. Will and Sarah went with her. He would have had to kill Molly to keep her from taking the kids. He wasn’t that crazy… not yet. For a few weeks, it hurt. The pain came in waves – loneliness, followed by despair, chased by despondency. Briggs was one of the lucky ones. The deep depression didn’t crush him.

    He remembered the guy down the street – what was his name? Doesn’t matter. His wife and kids died from the virus, the initial outbreak. He saw the poor dude walking the streets for a few days afterward. He looked like a zombie. After a week, Briggs found the guy in front of his house, splayed out on the front lawn amid a stain of dried blood. The self inflicted wound left him with a baseball-sized hole in the back of his head. Expediency dictated. He rolled the rotting corpse over and found the Beretta half buried in the dried grass. He popped the mag, racked the slide to eject the live round and tucked the gun into his belt. Briggs searched the house for supplies.

    His stores were dwindling. He harvested the grain that had seeded itself in from the prior year back in September. It was holding up reasonably well, but everything else was bare bones. He had to get moving.

    For years Briggs resisted the move to the mountains. The environment was harsh and unforgiving. His hope was that there’d still be an abundance of mule deer, elk, rabbit and trout up there. The summer homes of the more affluent would be open for habitation. At the upper end of Fourth of July Road was a series of well built cabins rarely occupied by the owners. He’d head for one of the more rugged structures he remembered near the treeline. Briggs knew from decades of hunting, fishing and camping how to survive in the alpine forests that dominated half of Colorado, but didn’t want to make the move until it was absolutely necessary.

    He caught word from transients that the Chinese were moving in with a huge force from Canada. Venezuelans and Bolivians up from Mexico. They were certain to roll through north central Colorado between the serious hot zones. That would put the bastards right in his lap. Can’t have that.

    Briggs packed his loose supplies into the metal frame ruck he’d kept for just such a purpose. He slung the old pack and attached two water bottles to his belt. Damn thing must weigh a hundred pounds. He holstered his sidearm and held onto his shotgun just in case. He already buried what was left of his stored goods. He’d try to come back for them before winter blew in for real.

    His thoughts turned to the small church community up near Nederland he’d once been a part of eight or ten years ago. Those folks, the ones who weren’t killed by that stinkin’ virus, were well equipped to ride out a storm like the one that hit the US. He’d have to convince them to accept him into their little group. Might not be as easy as it sounded, even if they did remember him. He had a lot to offer, though – hunting skills, construction experience, survival and tactical abilities.

    Briggs walked.
    Last edited by MinutemanCO; November 20th, 2009 at 17:26.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Envy the Dead Two -

    Briggs snapped awake. The violence of the unknown interruption erased all fatigue from his mind. He never really slept that well anyway. Something had invaded his not-so- REM-sleep, something unknown. And “unknown” immediately translated to “threat” in the extant world of death and devastation.

    *Snap* He rotated to locate the noise, scanning the darkness for any sign of movement. It was dark, coal mine dark without the oil lamps. The wind was blowing, just strong enough to disrupt sensory input. He thought he could hear someone (something?) moving through the dried prairie grass. Certain not to move a muscle, he listened with the acuity of a military scout. He made out a human voice whispered to at least one other person. He now knew what he was up against.

    Briggs made camp on the west-facing side of Davidson Mesa just below the ridgeline as the sunset bathed the land in its fiery light. He settled against a grouping of large sandstone boulders along a steep slope that overlooked ninety-five percent of the Boulder Valley. The city, the university and all the homes of the upper crust were obliterated, replaced with twisted black destruction.

    The five-hundred kiloton nuke that visited its ruin upon Boulder, a Russian SS-27 Topol-M, originated from a mobile launch vehicle deep in the Siberian wasteland. The single warhead penetrated US airspace above Wyoming and air burst detonated a few minutes later over the Pearl Street Mall killing one hundred thousand Boulderites instantly. The hotspot at ground zero, soil, cars, building materials and groundwater activated by the initial nuclear radiation, had barely faded, even after four years. The hazardous radius around the blast point wasn’t enormous but deserved respect nonetheless. Briggs would skirt the edge of what would have been the southern limits of Boulder and head for Eldorado Canyon.

    The intruders closed in on his small encampment up the slope from the west. The starlight backlit two figures long enough for Briggs to pinpoint a fix. Two people, close formation, slightly crouched and climbing toward his vantage point. He waited in hiding until they drew close, twenty feet… nowhere to run. He depressed the trigger on the pump action 870, discharging a single round of the precious double-ought buck into the ground at the feet of his adversaries. The round echoed like the concussion of a howitzer in the still of the night. Dirt and gravel flew everywhere. Both prowlers screamed in surprise and froze solid.

    “You take another step and you’ll be bleeding.” Briggs circled around the far side of the largest boulder. “Turn toward me and sit cross legged with your hands in the air. If you move – I mean even the slightest twitch – you’ll be spouting holes you never had before.”

    He cut two three foot lengths of rope from a coil attached to his ruck. He handed one length to intruder number-one, “Tie your friend’s hands.” The figure complied. Briggs tied up number-one and checked number-two’s rigging before forcing them apart from each other, face down in the rocky soil. He did a quick body search for concealed weapons.

    “Now talk! What are you doing up here? Are you scoping the area for one of the ten factions?”

    “Factions? No. My brother and I saw you from a couple miles off, earlier today. Man, we haven’t talked with anyone in months. We just wanted to talk.”

    Only then did Briggs realize he was putting the screws to two kids. “You’re kids. I can’t believe this.” He helped both boys back to a sitting position. “How old are you and what are your names?”

    Number-one did all the talking. His entire body shook as he tried to explain, “I’m Kevin and this is my brother Jake. He’s fourteen and I’m sixteen.”

    “Have you got any weapons on you?”

    “Just a hunting knife, and you found that,” Kevin said.

    “You’ve been surviving since the nukes with a hunting knife? I don’t believe you,” Briggs said.

    “Well not exactly,” Kevin began to elaborate. “After everything went to hell, my parents and older sister were killed by the virus. I got real sick but somehow managed to survive. Jake never picked up even one symptom. After a week, I got better. Real sudden like. It was if something in my body kicked the virus out. One day I had a 104 fever and puking everywhere, the next day, I felt a lot better.”

    Briggs looked at the boys, his skeptical nature showing through. He waved his right hand in a circular motion as if to say, “Tell me more.”

    “We lived with our parents up Coal Creek Canyon. After our parents died, we survived for about two months on the food and water we had stored. When the food ran out, we realized that we needed to change our plan. We took day trips from the house over that two month period, trying to find food, supplies and answers.”

    “What answers,” Briggs demanded.

    “Anything. What’d happened? Who was still alive? Was there any law or government left that could help us? Like that,” Kevin said.

    “What’d you find?”

    “Well, we quickly discovered that most of the areas close in to the cities and bigger towns were crawling with the wild people. Do you know who I mean? The wild people?”

    Briggs thought back to his first encounter with the roving mobs the boys called “the wild people.” He needed supplies one summer day four weeks after the missiles came and decided to explore what remained of Fort Lupton. He avoided the individuals and small groups of people staking claims on the more valuable stores and houses in the area. He kept to the shadows and moved only when no one was looking. He gathered all he could find in a one hour period of time. Not wanting to be a victim of his own carelessness, Briggs walked quickly with his stash for the outskirts.

    The sun was setting and the shadows started to play tricks on his eyes. He was only a few hundred yards from the nearest farm field when he heard what sounded like a human howl. The call was answered by yells and screams from a larger group a bit further away. He hit the dirt and crawled on his stomach to a rusted hulk that was once an old tow truck rig. Hidden in the shadows beneath the burned out truck, Briggs peered out to witness a scene that caused him great distress. What he saw haunted his dreams for months.

    The mob had captured a man from somewhere in the business district and dragged him toward a large Quonset hut set back off the main road. The man, gaunt and malnourished, was struggling to get free but was no match for the mass of distorted humanity that held him captive. After reaching the Quonset hut, the mob turned vicious. Briggs saw only a fraction of what really happened. The captive’s screams coupled with Briggs’ imagination provided sufficient description. Rumors circulated among the rational people that the wild mobs consisted of people somehow infected with a mutated strain of the virus. They were reasonable, sensible citizens who were altered by the mutant strain just enough to distort their collective reality. Unable to think in a lucid manner, the wild people often resorted to cannibalism. They were to be avoided at all costs.

    “Yeah, I know all about the mobs,” Briggs answered. “You need to stay away from them. What else did you learn on your fact finding missions?”

    “We ran into groups of people patrolling the Front Range region. They appeared to be assembled under some kind of formal leadership. We were told later that these groups were known as factions. Green Faction exercises control over what remains of Boulder. Gray Faction… Longmont, I-25 and Erie.”

    “Yup, that’s correct,” Briggs said. “There are at least ten factions controlling the sectors surrounding Denver. The overall leadership, if you can call it that, lies with a warlord named Kresh. No one that I’ve spoken with knows where his headquarters is. Some say he holes up in a bunker near the old airport. Others are convinced he’s in the mountains… Idaho Springs or Genesee. I’ve got my suspicions. It’s not relevant, though. Fact is, even with ongoing wars between the factions, Kresh and his Black Faction are in control. Many have died in his quest for power. Of this you can be certain.”

    “Who are you?” Kevin asked. “Are you a member of a faction?”

    “I’m nobody. You should learn what questions not to ask, kid.”

    “I didn’t mean any harm,” Kevin said. “Jake and I have been on our own for a long time now. We were approached by members of the Blue Faction. They wanted us to join them in return for protection, shelter and regular meals.”

    “Why didn’t you?” Briggs wondered aloud.

    “There was something not quite right about their offer. They were hiding something. We heard enough rumors of forced servitude and slave labor within the factions to give us concern. We managed to evade Blue’s coercion and keep to ourselves ever since.”

    “Why seek out other people now? What’s changed since then?” Briggs had a ray of compassion for the brothers. His constant vigilance would never subside, but as his thoughts returned to Will and Sarah, his heart melted just a little.

    “Look mister, we’re lonely and barely getting by. It gets harder every day to find food. We need to be part of a family, a community. A group of people we can be dedicated to. Do you know what I mean?”

    “I do.” Briggs stared off into the distance as if trying to recollect what it was like to be a part of a family. It wasn’t clear, but the memories were there.

    “I know what you’re getting at, Kevin.” Briggs said. “Part of me would like the same exact thing. I’m headed into the mountains in search of just such a community. You can come with me if you want.”

    “You serious?” Kevin said. Both boys looked hopeful.

    “Yeah. You can come along on one condition.”

    “Name it,” Kevin said.

    “You’ve got to listen to me. I’m in charge of our little group. The moment you start to freelance, I’m out of here and you guys are on your own again. You willing to make that sacrifice?”

    Kevin looked at Jake. The silent conversation between them reached a conclusion. “We are.”
    Last edited by MinutemanCO; October 27th, 2009 at 17:30.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Envy the Dead - Three

    They felt the sun rising. It warmed their backs as they walked. Briggs reached into the side pouch of his pack and produced a rolled up oilcloth. He opened the package and handed a chunk of a golden-colored substance to the boys. “I call it tapas. I don’t know why. Go ahead and eat it. It’ll give you some energy. I make it out of wheat berries and the remains of my stash of peanut butter. It ain’t bacon and eggs, but it’s not too bad.”

    “Thank you,” Kevin said for both of them. They ate the tapas with such intensity that Briggs realized they needed more. He gave them each another small piece.

    As they ate, they followed Briggs down the slope to the base of the embankment that formed the northbound lane of the highway. It was better to stay out of sight, keeping to a route hidden from the spotting scopes of faction sentries. There were, in addition, plenty of survivors with questionable motives strewn throughout the countryside. It was always a better tactical scenario in their world altered by inhuman devastation to avoid strangers. Even those who once were considered friends could only be trusted with the utmost caution. There was no security in the deepest thoughts and nightmares of men.

    They followed the Turnpike into the valley until it bottomed out at South Boulder Creek. The winding creek bed lined with massive cottonwood trees would provide cover and lead them to the mouth of Eldorado Canyon to the southwest.

    “There’ll be a big culvert at the bottom of the road bank,” Briggs said. “We’ll cross there. Can you guys swim?”

    “Swim?” Kevin asked.

    “Yeah, you know…” Briggs gestured with his hands as if he were doing the dogpaddle. The big man looked comical in the morning light. Jake laughed.

    “Hey, that’s the first sound I’ve heard come out of his mouth. I was beginning to think my friend Jake here was incapable of speech.” A broad smile grew from Briggs’s weathered countenance as he spoke. He couldn’t remember the last time he felt happy about anything. He ruffled Jake’s hair and turned to hike down to the creek.

    “Well, you never know what you’re going to find inside one of these concrete boxes. It could be full of water, although that’s unlikely this time of year. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting face to face a dead cow, numerous human corpses in various states of disrepair and untold quantities of gruesome ugliness. Come to think of it, in the last four years, I’m sure you guys have seen your fair share.” The brothers nodded in agreement.

    At the base of the slope, the creek bank hugged the side of the concrete box. The water appeared to be only a couple feet deep at most. A twisted and rusted shopping cart made up the worst of the carnage. Briggs found a segment of copper pipe forced into the steel mesh of the shopping cart by the storm surge of some long forgotten weather event. He yanked it free and jammed it into the water before him as he walked.

    “Follow me,” Briggs said. “Be sure to walk where I walk. A broken ankle out here would put us in a world of hurt.” He wove his way through the rubble and organic debris deposited by years of stream movement.

    The width of the Turnpike at that point was no more than one hundred feet. As they looked around, each lamented a culture, a people, long since passed into history. The Turnpike stretched between Denver and Boulder would have, just a few years ago, been flowing at capacity with BMWs, expensive SUVs, semi-trucks and all manner of diminutive econoboxes. They were all gone, leaving behind only disembodied spirits to haunt the memories of a few survivors.

    After five minutes of careful stepping, the group found themselves walking along side the coyote willow that extended the length of the creek. The pasture that paralleled their path was empty. Not even the prairie dogs that once scarred the plain were anywhere to be seen. There was nothing left to do but walk.

    “Kevin and Jake,” Briggs said. “Stay vigilant. I need you two to watch everything. I’ll keep a pretty sharp eye out for any abnormalities in front of us. Jake, you watch to either side of our path. And Kevin, your duty is the rear quarter. If you see anything, a dog with five legs or a scarecrow with a green wig, you let me know. Understand?”

    Jake gave Briggs a thumbs-up. Kevin said, “You can count on us.”

    “Time will tell, kid. Don’t make any promises you can’t keep.”

    Fifty minutes had gone by. They walked nearly two miles through the dense riverine vegetation, weaving between the tall grasses, trees and shrubs of their tortuous corridor. The brothers searched every field and grove for movement or strange phenomenon. As they approached the miniature village of Marshall, Jake spotted what appeared to be a sign post planted in the field off to the east. He grabbed Briggs by the jacket and muttered, “Sir, come see.”

    “What is it Jake?”

    Jake said nothing in reply, only pulled Briggs up out of the creek bed and into the field. The sign post was a roughly hewn cedar post, silvered by years of rain and snow. Atop the post was a skull bleached white in the sunlight, a human skull. No one said a thing even though all stared at the macabre sculpture. The skull displayed a dark, circular void the size of a nickel in the center of its forehead… a bullet hole. It was a sure sign of how desperate and fragile life had become.

    The sign itself consisted of three wooden shingles nailed to the post. The message appeared to be hand written in blood. It read “Envy the Dead”. The brothers turned together and walked back to the creek without saying a word. Briggs scanned the horizon for movement. The homes in the distance were dark. Nothing stirred but the wind in the grass. He pivoted on his heel and strode quickly back to South Boulder Creek.

    “I’ve got a bad feeling about this, guys,” Briggs said while hustling through the undergrowth. “There’s something dark happening here. Something that would just as soon swallow us up with it.”

    “What are you talking about?” Kevin asked. “I didn’t see or feel anything.”

    “Remember. Always use all of your senses. You can’t rely completely on the obvious… sight, hearing, smell. Within us is the ability to sense things. Whether it’s a combination of all our senses working in concert or possibly a distinct sense that we can’t name… like some sort of intuition. It is in all of us. You need to hone that ability, to come to rely on it as much as you would your own eyes. It will keep you alive. You need to stay alive, boys, more than anything.”

    “But the sign said…” Jake whispered.

    “Screw the sign!” Briggs shot back. “People lose hope around here, every day. They aren’t the lucky ones. They’re the dead ones.

    “Let’s move. Now.”
    Last edited by MinutemanCO; October 29th, 2009 at 17:21.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Envy the Dead - Four

    “I’m sorry,” Jake said quietly.

    “Don’t be sorry, kid,” Briggs regretted having yelled at Jake. “I’m an old ogre of a man with barely a worthwhile emotion left in me, save a ton of anger and some sadness. I guess I should be the one who’s sorry for getting crosswise with you back there.”

    The trio continued walking the creek bed until they drew close to Marshall. From their limited perspective, the town appeared deserted. The potential for danger in any peaceful-looking settlement was astronomical. Briggs knew this from experience. He preferred to see a few people moving here or there, between the houses and commercial buildings. He was uncomfortable with the lack of activity, the absence of any sound whatsoever. There was an eerie calm over the town of Marshall, the darkened doorways beckoned. Briggs held up his left hand. The group stopped.

    “Come here you two.” Briggs pulled the large hunting blade from his belt and handed it to Jake. “Jake, if we’re attacked and you have a clear path to counter the attack, stick this blade into whoever you can. Just don’t perforate me or your brother, okay?”

    Jake nodded and said under his breath, “I will.” Briggs thought he saw fire in Jake’s eyes, something he hadn’t yet witnessed in the boy.

    “Kevin,” Briggs said.

    Kevin gave his brother an encouraging look and slapped him on the back. He turned to acknowledge the older man. Briggs unslung his ruck and unzipped the outer rear pocket. He pulled from the pouch a plastic bag neatly wrapped in duct tape. Kevin stared at the package as Briggs unwrapped the contents. He removed layers of silvery tape and carefully wound it back onto itself for future use. He pulled the bag free, unveiling a medium frame semi-automatic handgun – the Beretta he’d taken off his friendly neighborhood corpse years ago. He worked the slide and peered into the action. He was meticulous about his gun maintenance. Any instrument so vital for his own defense deserved constant attention to assure it was in working order when called upon.

    “Have you ever used one of these?” Briggs asked.

    “Yes,” Kevin nodded. “My dad had a membership at a gun club in Boulder. We shot with him a few times before he died.”

    “What happened to his guns?”

    “He only had a couple,” Kevin responded. “A Kimber 1911 and a nine millimeter, a Springfield Arms I think. Because he went to the club a couple times a week, he stored them there in a locker. The club is a pile of rubble now.”

    “That’s a shame,” Briggs said. He extended the Beretta toward Kevin. “This is a nine millimeter similar to your dad’s Springfield. I only recovered one magazine from its original owner, but I’ve got a small stash of ammo I’ve been collecting for a few years. Watch closely. We don’t have a lot of time.”

    He pulled the slide back and locked it in the open position showing the brothers the empty chamber. He slid the magazine in place and pushed the slide stop, returning the slide forward with a metallic *chunk*. The hammer remained in the cocked position.

    “This is a double action, semi-auto handgun,” Briggs began. “It is now ready to go. There are fifteen rounds in the mag. When I engage the safety, the hammer will return to a decocked position. If you want to fire, release the safety, point and pull the trigger. The double action will allow you to fire just like a revolver. Understand?”

    Kevin and Jake registered their comprehension. The brothers wondered what had caused the man to be so anxious about their surroundings. They looked around and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Houses, barns, farm fields, old commercial buildings stood like soldiers in the distance. There was even a large agricultural pen constructed of barbed wire and steel posts. The fence was eight feet in height with ten strands of the harmful filament lashed together at close intervals with smooth wire. Was this a stock pen? If so, it was the largest and most substantial pen the boys had ever seen.

    “Do not, I repeat, do not fire without provocation and a clear line of sight. The ammo is very valuable and I don’t want you to hit one of us.”

    “Okay,” Kevin said.

    “Follow me,” Briggs instructed. “About ten paces apart. Jake you’re in the middle. Don’t bunch up. We’re too easy a target that way.”

    Target?

    Briggs climbed the stream bank and angled off toward the back yard of the nearest house with the brothers close behind. Two abandoned cars sat together like Siamese twins under an ancient Oak. They stopped at the cars and scanned the area. Still nothing to be seen.

    “What’s going on here?” Kevin said softly to Briggs.

    “Not sure. It ain’t the wild people, though. They’ll be closer to Rock Creek or Louisville down the road a piece. Something else is happening in this little berg. It’s echoing through my bones. Did you see that pen?” Briggs tightened his grip on the shotgun. “When I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know. Just keep your eyes open, got it?”

    They moved off toward the next house and stopped at the far side of the garage. Colorado Route 93, a four-lane divided highway, stood as their next obstacle. The empty expanse of linear concrete linking Boulder to Golden was harmless enough in and of itself. The lack of cover offered by a rapid crossing in the light of day was more daunting than Briggs wanted to comprehend. He would have waited until nightfall, but something screamed at him to move out immediately. His inner voice warned expressly against being in Marshall after dark.

    They dashed to a grouping of trees and shrubs at the side of the highway. Briggs looked to the north and again to the south. The brothers watched intently for any movement. “Let’s go,” Briggs said.

    One by one, separated by five second intervals, they sprinted across Colorado 93 to the far side of a series of agricultural outbuildings. They fell prone in a semicircular formation. Kevin, Jake and their adopted guide, Matthew Briggs, kept a lookout in all directions. They waited, expecting an unknown confrontation that didn’t come. After five minutes of half-breaths and absolute stillness, Briggs raised himself to a crouching position and shuffled toward the edge of town. The brothers mimicked his movement.

    He turned back for a second. “This is it. This is where you’re gonna’ have to suck it up and dig deep. You’re going to have to keep up with me ‘cause I’m not stopping for anything. We’re headed for Shanahan Hill.” Briggs pointed to a ridgeline in the distance. “We’ll move along that line until we make our way to Towhee Gulch. To the west. It’s about three miles, probably take us two or three hours to do it without being seen. You up for it?”

    “We’re with you,” Kevin said. Jake gave Briggs his characteristic nod.

    “There’s a cabin in the foothills above Eldorado Springs we can bed down in. We’ll search Eldo for supplies tomorrow and refill our water jugs before we hit the mountains. Come on then.”

    They marched toward the high ground at the southern end of Boulder proper. Shanahan Hill commanded a wide view to the south and towered three hundred feet in elevation above the creek bottom ground in Marshall. The walkers stopped short of the numerous residences that dotted the ridge and turned west. The October sun had reached its apogee and had already begun its descent. Briggs estimated only two hours of daylight remained.

    They climbed though the mountain mahogany and rabbit brush that covered the east-facing slopes. The steep meadows led to the once-famous Boulder Flatirons. The going was slow.

    As the daylight faded behind a wall of rock four thousand feet high, Briggs felt compelled to search the valley from whence they came. The blanket of shade cast by the setting sun washed away all visual contrast making the details of the landscape indiscernible. Something moved below them, though. This was obvious.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Envy the Dead - Five


    Kevin crawled across the dusty wood plank floor to where Briggs was sleeping. He placed a hand on the man’s shoulder.

    “What!?” Briggs awakened at the slightest touch. Kevin jumped. “What is it, kid?”

    “Jake’s gone.”

    “What’d you say?” Briggs was still foggy.

    “I said Jake’s gone. He left sometime in the last hour or so.” The cabin was shrouded in darkness. The crescent moon threw a faint glow, none of which illuminated the interior of the rustic structure.

    Briggs jumped to his feet and grabbed Kevin by the arms. “What are you talking about? Where’d he go?”

    “I don’t know. Maybe down to Marshall.” Kevin was desperate.

    “Marshall!? What the hell for? He’s gonna’ get himself killed… or worse.”

    Kevin speculated, “He seemed interested in the activity we saw in Marshall when we were over on the ridge. He didn’t say much about it, but I know him. I’m sure he wanted to see what or who was moving around down there… what their purpose was. He’s always been really curious.”

    “You have got to be kidding me,” Briggs was upset. “How’d he get out of here without one of us hearing him?”

    “He can be really quiet when he wants to be,” Kevin replied. “He would disappear from our house a lot. My parents had no idea how he would get by them. To this day, he hasn’t told me how he slipped out of the house so easily. I guess he found a way out his bedroom window and down the second story deck. He must have known a way through the forest that surrounded our house. Eventually, after we discovered he was gone, we would pick him up wandering around Pinecliffe or Wonderview and bring him back home. Surviving in the wild is second nature to Jake.”

    “Son of a…” Briggs slapped his open right hand down on the old kitchen counter in anger. “You remember what I said back on the mesa when I met you? Remember our deal?”

    Kevin whispered his response, “Yeah.”

    “I told you two that you needed to follow my lead at all times! I told you… that when either one of you decided to go out on his own that we were finished. Done. Outta’ here.”

    “I remember what you said,” Kevin said, dread filling his heart that the brothers would once again be alone.

    “What am I supposed to do now?” Briggs was flustered. It was the first time Kevin had seen the big man uncertain about anything. Kevin had a feeling that Briggs liked Jake, like a big brother or even a father-figure. “I can’t abandon him out there. I can’t just walk away and leave him at the mercy of those factional bastards. He’s just a kid. They’ll tear him to pieces.”

    Briggs walked to the front of the old cabin. He threw open the heavy wooden door that separated the two from the crisp night air. It squealed on its hinges as if it hadn’t been oiled in years. It hadn’t. He stepped through the threshold and out toward the end of the rutted dirt driveway. The sun wouldn’t come up for hours, but he scanned the valley for any sign of movement just the same. He could see down the steep sloping meadow into the village of Marshall. Lights moved about in patterned order. It appeared that people were either marching in line through the village or that some organized group had managed to repair a number of vehicles for use as transportation. From his vantage point, it was difficult to tell which was true.

    “If he’s down there,” Briggs continued, “we gotta’ go get him. Right now. Simple as that.”

    If there were anything but moonlight, Briggs would have seen the worry on Kevin’s face. He wrung his hands and paced back and forth under the rotting pine eves of the cabin. “How are we going to find him?”

    “We’re setting off in a few minutes, so grab that piece I gave you earlier and keep it handy. Don’t fire at anything unless I tell you. If they get me, do your best to stay alive and get your ass back up Eldorado Canyon. Don’t stop moving until you’re certain no one is on your tail. Comprende?”

    “I will do that, but how are we going to find Jake?” Kevin said, his desperation overflowing.

    “You know your brother better than anyone. You know his habits, his fears and his interests. We’ll head back to South Boulder Creek and follow it to the outskirts of Marshall just as fast as we can. It’s only about a four mile jog. We’ll need to keep a close watch for sentries. If they haven’t found Jake yet or if he hasn’t clued them in to our existence, we’ll be in much better shape. They won’t be expecting us. Once we reach the town, I want you to give me a sense of how Jake might have approached the compound or where he might hole up. Make sense?”

    “Yeah, I think so,” Kevin stumbled over his words.

    “Hang in there, kid. We’ll get him back,” Briggs was uncharacteristically compassionate.

    “After we get down there and formulate our plan, we’ll need to stay out of sight. The shadows will conceal us until the sun rises. They’re not going to have too much night lighting. It’s too valuable. My guess is that we’re dealing with Blue. They’re closely allied to Kresh’s monkeys and they’re active in this area. They’re as serious as you can imagine. They mean business and will kill you as soon as look at you. Never forget who you’re dealing with.

    “My gut told me that Marshall was a prison camp. I didn’t say anything earlier because it wasn’t relevant. It is now. That wasn’t a stock pen at the edge of that trailer park. It was way too fortified and the fence too high. I think I saw a guard shack on the western corner. We’ll cruise down the creek and recon the facility from the protection of the trees. At that point we’re gonna’ have to make it up as we go along.”

    “Okay,” Kevin said.

    “Look, Kevin… I’m going to need you down there. I’ll need every ounce of your intelligence and guts. I know you have guts, kid. You wouldn’t have survived four years in this hellhole if you didn’t.”

    “Alright. I’m ready.”

    “Let’s go,” Briggs said.

    They jogged as fast as possible across the elevated meadow that led to South Boulder Creek. Their footing was unpredictable at best. At one point Kevin tripped over a low-lying branch jutting from a mass of mountain mahogany and fell face first into the rocky dirt. Before Briggs could ask if he was okay, Kevin was up and running again without a word.

    Tough kid.

    It took them twenty minutes to find the creek. They ran alongside the willows, staying on higher ground. If they chose to move within the channel, they ran the risk of getting wet and making too much noise. The shadows were dense and provided ample cover.

    After an hour of careful jogging, both Briggs and Kevin were breathing heavily. They stopped for a rest. Marshall was only a half mile from their location.

    Briggs whispered, “We’ll move very quietly from this point on.”

    “Okay,” Kevin said. “Jake would have been very careful advancing on the village, especially if soldiers were around. Like I said, he is very good at going unnoticed. He would have used the creek to his advantage and probably circled around the outer edge of the town before moving inward. Jake’s not stupid or reckless. He would avoid capture at all costs.”

    “Excellent, Kevin. That’s exactly the information I needed.”

    Briggs could hear people yelling and vehicle engines in the distance. He motioned for Kevin to follow. He placed a single finger against his lips as if to say, “Use only hand signals.” Kevin put his right thumb and forefinger together indicating he understood.

    They crept closer to the village. The fenced pen, lit around its perimeter with oil torches, appeared fifty yards from their position as they rounded one of the more significant meanders in the stream. Briggs held up his hand, motioning for Kevin to stay put. He lowered himself into a prone position and crawled out onto the irregular surface of what used to be a farm field. He moved to the edge of the light field thrown by the torches and terminated his advance next to a rusty steel dumpster.

    Briggs peered into the fenced compound. There was movement within. People were being detained, definitely against their will as the razor ribbon attested. Forced laborers. People captured in faction raids on regional population encampments, no doubt. There was always heavy work to be done, and the prisoners were expendable. They weren’t fed much and required very little in the way of shelter. If some died, and they did with striking regularity, they were disposed of and life went on.

    The compound was roughly one hundred feet wide and square in shape. Guards watched the area from a single shack on the far end. No observation towers were evident and very few sentries walked defensive posts. Briggs counted two. Blue had grown arrogant. They weren’t protecting their resources very well. Their alliance with Kresh’s Black guards undoubtedly made them fat and careless, thinking no one would dare strike one of their strongholds. For the most part, they were correct. Blue’s Marshall camp was heavily armed and contained a small battalion force – over three hundred men. It wasn’t often in their world of plague and devastation that so many would be gathered in one place. There just weren’t that many people left in the world.

    Briggs wondered where Blue Faction was when Kevin, Jake and he passed through Marshall earlier the previous day. His best guess had the entire unit participating in a larger raid on another rival encampment. Rumors to verify his contemplations would circulate soon enough.

    What Blue never envisaged in their defensive structure in Marshall was the employment of a small surgical strike meant for a very specific purpose. They were vulnerable. Briggs would exploit their weaknesses.

    He counted twenty-two detainees within the compound. Most were adults. A few teens could be seen milling about the larger group. He saw a darker form, isolated from the main body of prisoners, sitting against the fence with knees up and head down. He couldn’t distinguish the person’s features and had no way of verifying if the person was Jake. He had to move closer.


    Briggs turned back to where Kevin was hidden and held up two fingers followed by a zero. He then pointed to his wrist and an imaginary watch signifying “twenty minutes”. Kevin would wait twenty minutes for Briggs to return and then exfiltrate the way they came in.

    Briggs disappeared into the darkness. He circled the pen away from the concentrated light sources and toward the back side of the guard shack. The shack wasn’t lit. He inched his way around the small building and, finding a tiny window, raised himself to full height and looked to see how many Blue guards were within. There were only two. He continued away from the shack to see if he could identify the lone prisoner sitting against the fence. A grouping of sagebrush near the multi-strand fence hid his body well. He’d wait for the kid to raise his head.

    Five minutes passed, then seven. The kid must have been asleep. Briggs found a small rock and tossed it gently into the dirt past the sleeping figure. It made a slight *thump* as it hit the ground, just enough to grab the kid’s attention. The kid looked up and around to see what might have generated the noise. Briggs caught a glimpse of the loner’s face. It was a girl, about sixteen. She was deathly thin, as if she hadn’t eaten in weeks. He felt rage rise from within. Even in the dark of night, he could tell she was near death… AND NO ONE CARED! She was someone’s daughter, innocent and a victim of the plots of evil men. The bastards. If only I had the manpower. I’d make you pay. Thoughts of freeing all the captives flashed in his mind. They would have to wait.

    Briggs had to force his mind back onto the mission at hand. Two options now remained. Jake was still on the loose… or he was dead.
    Last edited by MinutemanCO; February 3rd, 2010 at 22:41.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Freaking awsome, MinutemanCO.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Thanks again Backstop. I'm having fun with this story, although it is a bit raw and in need of some serious editing.

    If you've got any plot ideas (or anyone else for that matter), I'm all ears.

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    Senior Member samizdat's Avatar
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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    I missed last nite's episode- but that's why I like reading better than tv. The virus outbreak gave me a little impetus- off to plant more oregano. I found a way to get the essential oil out slowly. Turn the leaves over a burner until they wilt. (yes-use a spatula) drop them in a bowl. warm, sweeze out the juice in a smaller bowl. The flowers are more potent preserved in alcohol.

    canto XXV Dante

    from purgatory, the lustful... "open your breast to the truth which follows and know that as soon as the articulations in the brain are perfected in the embryo, the first Mover turns to it, happy...."
    Shema Israel

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    You can't leave it like that MMCO! What happens next?

    This is outstanding! Keep up the good work.

    And I know, I am suppossed to get away from this machine. Hello, my name is Beetle and I am addicted to the internet. I stayed away for five days or so, but I had to check my Fantasy Football scores and set my lineup for next week. I will go back into hiding again and I'll wait to next week before I expose my self to the internet. So, I will be coming back to this page in hopes of finding out what happens next.

    Outstanding work MMCO! You are a natural.
    Beetle - Give me liberty or give me something to aim at.


    A monster lies in wait for me
    A stew of pain and misery
    But feircer still in life and limb
    the me that lays in wait for him


    Hey liberal!

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    You can't handle the truth!

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Beetle,

    Thanks for the good word. I'm definitely going to continue. I'm developing the next chapter as we speak. I'm also contemplating biting the bullet and transitioning this story into full-on novel prose, a work that demands tons of time and effort. I'm in the middle of a composing another novel (in my free time?) and have been for the last year. It's hard to find hours in the day while attempting to keep food on the table for my family. Sorry, don't mean to whine at you. It's actually a lot of fun. Just wish I could write full time exclusively.

    MM.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Quote Originally Posted by MinutemanCO View Post
    Beetle,

    Thanks for the good word. I'm definitely going to continue. I'm developing the next chapter as we speak. I'm also contemplating biting the bullet and transitioning this story into full-on novel prose, a work that demands tons of time and effort. I'm in the middle of a composing another novel (in my free time?) and have been for the last year. It's hard to find hours in the day while attempting to keep food on the table for my family. Sorry, don't mean to whine at you. It's actually a lot of fun. Just wish I could write full time exclusively.

    MM.

    Well, you are dang good at it. I am not just blowing smoke too.
    Beetle - Give me liberty or give me something to aim at.


    A monster lies in wait for me
    A stew of pain and misery
    But feircer still in life and limb
    the me that lays in wait for him


    Hey liberal!

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    You can't handle the truth!

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Much appreciated.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    FYI - I'm working on the next chapter of the story. Sorry about the delay. It's a bit more technical and requires some input from experts. Will post soon.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Envy the Dead - Six

    “Jackson. Where is he?” Blue Faction Area Chief Richter Weiss yelled down the hall to his second in command.

    “Sir, I have no idea. The last communication received had him arriving by ten-thirty. He’s normally not late.” Rob Jackson wished he were somewhere else… anywhere else when Kresh arrived. There was no telling the havoc the man and his black guard would inflict on his Blue allies following the loss in Erie. He was not known to be a tolerant man.

    Blue’s raid on Gray’s Erie stronghold was nearly disastrous. Faction war planners, through their unfathomable inexperience, misinterpreted data at every level. They made inaccurate assumptions regarding Gray’s troop strength, facilities, defensive emplacements and motivation. They relied on bad intelligence acquired from itinerant merchants and unreliable arms dealers. No one within Blue Faction’s ranks thought to ask if the information that formed the foundation of their planning efforts was dependable. When it came right down to it, Blue Faction was nothing more than a collective of gun toting brigands. Very few within their dwindling membership actually had realtime, boots-on-the-ground, military experience.

    Ultimately, Richter Weiss was responsible for the unsuccessful invasion. In his desire to move up in standing with the burgeoning Black Faction leadership, he constructed a strategy riddled with holes. He wasn’t even aware of the plan’s deficiencies until they unfolded before his eyes.

    More defenders were present in the Erie than Blue had accounted for. Intelligence estimated Gray troop strength at one hundred seventy with two armored vehicles and five large bore artillery batteries. They expected minimal resistance from the resident townspeople who were merely sheltered by the rival faction’s agreements. No one would want to die for a military engagement that did not involve them. Blue’s reasoning couldn’t have been more wrong.

    Blue leaders designed the dawn incursion around the principals of surprise and superior armament. Their three hundred twenty combatants were assembled in platoons of between twenty and thirty men. Each foot soldier carried a 5.56 mm assault rifle variant, a side arm of their choice and several grenades. Each platoon had two 7.62 machine gunners and two grenade launcher equipped combatants. They were supported by four converted armored truck units and two fast attack squads. These would converge on the town from the northwest, pressure the defenders into rapid retreat, with Blue infantry platoons clearing neighborhoods in their wake. Gray Faction forces would have no choice but to fall back to the edge of Coal Creek to make their stand. Clean up crews would then systematically destroy all of their assets and eliminate personnel up through the chain of command until only the leadership ranks remained. Blue would make an example of the remaining senior officers in the public square under the ruthless direction of Black’s infamous Nicholas Kresh.

    Blue’s strategy planners failed to recognize critical factors that nearly turned their own momentum back upon the invading forces. Mission commander Weiss failed to comprehend that Gray would be fighting for their home turf and that they had everything to lose – nowhere to go – if defeated. In a blaze of arrogance, he assumed that his superior numbers and armament would annihilate the opposition in a rapid shock movement. Before the day was over, Weiss wished he had the insight to order artillery strikes on the village. He hadn’t the patience to wait for the movement of resources from the south, and regretted his decision.

    Erie’s defensive battlements in the neighborhoods were far more numerous and fortified than intelligence estimates reported. Solitary armored heavy machine gun positions integrated within the small residential structures having interlocking fields of vision tore Blue Faction foot soldiers to pieces. The armored units advanced too quickly past the machine gun positions. They had to be recalled before being flanked by a Gray counteroffensive. While Blue regrouped, Erie’s defenders attacked with everything they had. At the end of the day, Blue lost forty percent of its ground forces and three armored units. The loss was unacceptable.

    Weiss peered from the rebar encased front window of the small office building. The anxiety he felt in his bones began to scream through his nervous system leaving him a shaking mess. His own men kept their distance, fearing a potential attack of irrationality from their commander.

    “I need to coordinate with our people in Longmont,” Weiss said, his voice shaking. “Maybe I’ll make the trip and talk with Kresh later.”

    “Sir, he’s gonna’ find you,” Jackson said. “And the consequences for making him wait another day or two will be severe. You can count on that.”

    “I know what to expect, Jackson!” Weiss was clearly losing control. “If I wanted your opinion, I’d have asked for it.”

    The rumble of several vehicles approaching from the south broke the silence. They were coming.

    “Awww, shit.” Weiss exclaimed. “Jackson, order my personal guard at the ready. Have them form up outside of my quarters.”

    “You serious, sir? I don’t think he’s going to like that.”

    “Just do it!” Weiss screamed at the younger man. “I’m not going down just because of a single loss.”

    Three pickup trucks and two five-ton transports approached Blue headquarters. All were painted flat black and bore the symbol of a fascist-looking eagle on each front door. Beneath the insignia read the single word - “Black.” One of the troop transports drove past the headquarters building and circled back to the rear quarter. Twenty armed troopers jumped down from the load bed of each truck and dispersed around the perimeter. The ten soldiers who comprised Weiss’s personal guard stood nervously at the entry portico. Weiss walked through the door with Jackson at his side. They stood ahead of the guard formation.

    Four of Black’s Elite Guard stepped from each pickup into the autumn sun. Black Faction was the most powerful of all Colorado war factions for a reason. In the months following the eradication of 98% of the earth’s population through nuclear and biological warfare, Nicholas Kresh gathered as many military and ex-mil personnel together as he could locate. He assembled a structured hierarchical leadership loosely based on the former United States military system that he had once been a part of. He offered all that would agree to follow a future… a future filled with organization, resources, goods and services. It was a life distorted by a fascist, dictatorial leader, but a life nonetheless.

    Kresh in the distant past rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class in the Army infantry. He had always been a ruthless thinker, able to make spontaneous decisions without regard for a person’s feelings. Notorious before the annihilation, Kresh bore in infamy the hallmark of his own cruelty. It served him well in a post-apocalyptic world. He wasn’t a big man but had eyes as cold as an Alaska winter morning. Those cold eyes would blaze with the fire of his unending fury whenever provoked. Charisma and power drew survivors to him. The banner of the ever-growing Black Faction, the most influential entity in the Rocky Mountain region, kept the people in bondage despite the tyranny under which they subsisted. They remained alive and so served in any capacity available.

    Kresh walked with the Elite Guard toward the headquarters building and the Blue soldiers assembled there. Without an order being issued or a word spoken, the eight Elite Guardsman, dressed in black tactical uniforms and carrying H&K MP-5s, opened fire on Blue Faction’s personal guard with the precision of a group of neurosurgeons. Two of the Black Guard approached the dead and dying and finished off any Blue survivors before returning to their leader’s side. As the concussion of the automatic weapons died down and the dust cleared, only Jackson and Weiss were left standing.

    Kresh stood before the two shaking men and stared into Richter Weiss’s eyes. He waited ten seconds before speaking. “Mr. Weiss. I have entrusted to you my people, my equipment, an alliance between our organizations, my personal trust and friendship.” Kresh’s voice was steady and even as he articulated each word carefully.

    “I… I was…” Weiss stuttered.

    “Please don’t speak,” Kresh said. “There is nothing that you can offer in your own defense. We are well beyond that point, Mr. Weiss.” The Blue Faction leader was noticeably fearful. The color from his face drained away leaving a pallid, ashen gray. His hands hung limp at his side, his shoulders losing all form.

    Nicholas Kresh turned toward Weiss’s second in command. “And who are you?”

    “My name is Robert Jackson, Deputy Area Chief, Blue Faction, Mr. Kresh.”

    “So you are Weiss’s number two, eh?” Jackson nodded his affirmative. “I’ve heard of you. You no longer have to place the designation ‘Deputy’ before your title, Mr. Jackson.”

    “I’m sorry sir?” Jackson questioned.

    Kresh pulled his sidearm extended the weapon toward Richter Weiss and fired. Weiss dropped to the dirt in a bloody heap.

    “Aww jeez, aww man. Okay I got you,” Rob Jackson said while trying to control his emotions. He had seen much since the world changed, but had never witnessed the summary execution of a colleague from the distance of two feet. He was rattled but able to pull himself together.

    “A bit of advice, Mr. Jackson,” Kresh said.

    “Yes sir?”

    “Remember that you in your current position are representing not just the small organization of Blue Faction, but the juggernaut of Black. And more than anything, remember that you are representing me. I am Black; Black is me. Do not fail me, Mr. Jackson. Are we clear?”

    “Crystal sir.”
    Last edited by MinutemanCO; February 4th, 2010 at 18:42.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Pretty interesting story. Have you published any writings? Just being noisy. I have long been a fan of post-apocolistic tales. Who unleashed the virus? Carry on MinutemanCO.
    "Still waitin on the Judgement Day"

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Sorry about the two months between entries. Here's a brief entry (somewhat incomplete) just to keep the story going. I will be continuing in the near future, for those who are following along. ...MM

    Envy the Dead – Seven

    The sun would rise over the eastern plains in two hours. Briggs retreated to the cover offered by the creek vegetation. Kevin, trying to watch his companion’s movements, crouched in the dry brush along the margin. He moved carefully to avoid stepping on fallen branches or piles of desiccated leaves.

    The older man spoke in a soft voice, barely audible above the breeze, “Your brother’s not in the fenced compound. We’ll have to search the village for him area by area.”

    Briggs had no intention of approaching the idea with Kevin that Jake could already be dead. He’d let the concept linger unsaid until they knew something more substantial.

    “What should we do?” Kevin asked.

    “Follow me and stay low,” Briggs directed. “Be careful. If we blow our cover, any noise or rapid movement, they’ll be all over us. Understand?”

    Kevin nodded. Matthew Briggs, all six feet three and two hundred forty pounds of him, stole silently into the shadows like a wraith through a frightened child’s imagination. It was clear to Kevin that he’d done this before. He did his best to imitate the man.

    They followed the creek bed back to the crossing at Colorado Route 93. Briggs turned to Kevin. “The house on the southern edge of town will be the command post for the Marshall contingent of Blue. The one with all the vehicles around it.” He pointed to what used to be a beautiful contemporary home clad in sand-colored stucco fifty yards from where they stood, just a silhouette in the growing dawn. Time and institutional abuse had transformed the home into a dirt covered fortress with little aesthetic value.

    “We’ll start our recon there and work our way back toward the trailer park at the far end. Don’t make a move without my say so. Listen closely, though. Any information we hear could help us.”

    Kevin was overwhelmed by the operation Briggs had strategized so effortlessly. Despite his fear, he recognized that Briggs exhibited the characteristics of someone who possessed extensive training. The man was a mystery, having said almost nothing about his past. Kevin knew it would be an imposition, possibly a major infuriation, to inquire beyond what he had already revealed. He kept quiet and watched.

    Briggs led the boy to the tree line that formed the back yard of the command structure. He halted their advance behind a monumental pile of old scrap metal and garbage, just beyond the range of the wall mounted flood lights. The yard was littered with old containers and cluttered by a disorganized jumble of vehicles still in use.

    The big man turned back to the teen. “The sun’s coming up soon so we’ll need to be careful. I want you to crawl under that old truck and just listen. I’ll let you know when it’s time to back out of there. No matter what you hear, don’t move from that spot unless I tell you. If it’s clear that I ain’t coming back, move out under your own discretion.”

    “Okay. I understand.” Kevin dropped to his stomach and belly crawled to an ancient flatbed rig parked near the front entry of the building. In an existence long since removed from the one they were faced with, the truck appeared to be a tree maintenance vehicle complete with a boom crane. The rig had been converted over the past few years to an equipment transport for the warring faction. Kevin maneuvered until he lay beneath the rear axle. The shadows obscured him from any would-be observers.

    Briggs donned a black balaclava he’d retrieved from his pack before their approach on Marshall. His clothing was dark. If he stayed within the deep grays cast by the building and the receding darkness, he’d be almost invisible. He circled the eastern quarter of the house in search of an open window. One of the panels on what was once a kitchen bay window was extended into the night air for ventilation. He parked his long frame beneath the convex unit and listened to the voices of men he hadn’t met yet.

    “What’re we gonna’ do with him? The kid we caught.” said a man’s voice shrill and nervous.

    A deeper voice scarred by too much cigarette smoking answered, “he’s already scheduled for shipment out on the next transport. This morning, oh-eight-thirty, I think. They’re sending him up to headquarters.”

    “Headquarters huh?” said the nervous one. “Why they doin’ that?”

    “You know that you’re better off minding your own business, don’t you? The less you know, the better. For what it’s worth, Kresh is in Louisville at our factional headquarters.”

    Briggs maneuvered his stocky frame outside the open window to hear better the ongoing conversation. His curiosity was piqued after hearing of Kresh’s whereabouts and the prisoner waiting for transport. There was a good possibility that the prisoner was Jake.

    “Kresh?” Nervous screeched. “Oh man, I’m stayin’ away from there.”

    “Yeah, Mister Black himself came north to deal out some justice for that mess a few days ago in Erie. Word has it that Kresh eliminated Weiss and his personal guard.”

    “Whoa, for what? I mean, what happened in Erie?”

    The man with the deep voice continued, “Where you been, in a hole? Apparently, our principal strike force hit Erie pretty hard and lost. Not only that, we got our butts kicked. Kresh doesn’t take kindly to his resources being wasted. He gets downright evil when his name is trashed out there in the wasteland, too.”
    Last edited by MinutemanCO; February 4th, 2010 at 17:34.

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    Creepy Ass Cracka & Site Owner Ryan Ruck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    MMCO,
    You can get rid of those smilies by pasting the text into a text editor like Notepad and then copying and pasting from there into the TAA editor. Or, switch the TAA editor into plain text (instead of WYSIWYG) by clicking on the button in the upper right of it with the plain letter "A" and the stylized letter "A". It should show a white background in plain text mode.

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    Default Re: Envy the Dead - Continuation of the Survival Story

    Well, what do ya know? Thanks Ryan. This will make things a bit easier.

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