Running had become a way of life for anyone who’d managed to survive in this crazy new world. You either ran or you died, it was that simple. Jeb had learned those rules a long time ago, so he was breathing heavy by the time he made it to the gatehouse, but he wasn’t out of breath. Jeb snorted, apparently the end of the world was a great exercise program. He jumped up the few steps and entered the gatehouse door behind Harry and Hog.
“What’s going on?” Jeb demanded.
“It’s those stupid cult assholes again. They’re chasing Scratches and Bleak’s group, they’re about five miles out and coming in hot. Fuck, those bastards need to die already.” Viper grunted from the expensive desk chair he sat in. Jeb could still remember the night they’d been at a warehouse searching for supplies and Viper had found that chair. He’d nearly shit his pants in glee because it was some kind of butt-cradling, five-thousand-dollar office chair that he’d insisted they bring back with them. Jeb shook his head, hell he supposed that the end of civilization needed to have one or two perks.
The cult Viper was referring to called themselves, “The Grinders”. They were a group of men and woman who thought this disease was god’s way of killing off the unworthy. They had some crazy ideas that they were the pure one’s, and anyone else was meant to die. They shoved people into large pits filled with deadheads and laughed as they were ripped apart. It was sickening to think how insane those fuckers were. The club had been trying to kill the cult off for the last year, but they always seemed to slip away without too many losses, and it was frustrating the hell out of the whole club.
“Fuck, we need to kill those sons-of-bitches.” Jeb grunted to the other nine men who were inside the clubhouse. “How many bikes do we have charged and ready to go?” Jeb asked Gravel.
Gravel was their mechanic and he was in charge of making sure the bikes and other vehicles were gassed up and ready to go. Most of the bikes and cages had been modified to take homemade fuel after gas had started to become scarce. Thank fuck they’d found Trey a few years ago and he’d come up with a shit ton of ideas and gadgets, everything from making their own gas, to filtering rain water, the man was a damned genius.
“Not enough if you guys are out there very long. Ten bikes are nearing full, but most of the others are going to take at least an hour to get going. It’s not like pumping gas into a normal tank man, you know that. We only have thirteen that take regular fuel now and we’re running low on that again too,” Gravel muttered, his face grim.
“I hate these assholes, they always ruin our day. You know, we were always a bunch of self-centered dicks before the deadheads showed up, but at least we don’t want to murder what’s left of humanity.” Viper muttered, earning nods and head shakes from the men.
“Alright, no time to debate this bullshit, let’s get our asses in gear. Jeb what do you think? How do we take these dumb fucks out?” Grit questioned.
“I’ll take Harry and Len with me to get a look at what we’re dealing with, and the rest of you set up about half a mile from the start of the blocking along the highway. Don’t forget that these Grinder idiots aren’t the only thing we have to deal with, so watch each other’s backs. We don’t want any deadheads making this harder than it has to be by biting one of us. Now let’s get a move on it.” Jeb watched as the men piled out of the gatehouse heading towards the garage where the bikes and the trucks were stored before turning to Grit.
“Grit, you know you can’t come with us. We need one of us here to keep an eye on things,” Jeb commanded.
“I know, but it still ticks me off that I have to stay here while you go off and risk your hide.” Grit muttered, looking grim.
After a vote six months ago, either him or Grit—the club’s president—had to remain safely behind the walls so they weren’t left without a chain of command. They’d learned the hard way that being left without any leadership caused mayhem in the ranks. Grit understood why it was necessary, but he hated sending them out on dangerous runs without him. He’d offered to be the one who stayed behind most of the time, mainly because he knew Jeb well enough to know that being cooped up too long was a bad idea for him.
Jeb had some issues with walls after his stint in prison a few years before the deadheads made their appearance. It was hard for any man to feel pinned in or locked up, but for men like them it was even harder. Bikers had the open road in their blood and not being able to ride, even if you did have to fight off deadheads, was as close to hell as any biker could get. Jeb knew that Grit felt that pain more than he did because of his forced confinement and it made him feel a little guilty. He knew he should offer to stay behind more often, but at his core, he knew he was a selfish bastard. Jeb reached out and clasped Grit’s shoulder in a brotherly hug, which Grit returned before he pulled away and started out the door.
“Play it safe brother,” Grit cautioned, as Jeb let the screen door slam behind him.
Jeb followed the men into the hanger heading towards the gun room. He moved into the room where the men were already strapping on weapons. He joined them as he put on his vest, inserting two handguns into the holsters, before attaching a machete to his belt and picking up an AK-47. He grabbed a few extra clips, which he inserted into the hooks and pockets on his gear.
“Let’s get a move on it boys.” He grunted, as he headed over to his bike fully loaded. Harry and Len were already stocked up and waiting on him when he walked over.
“You think they’ll have that crazy bastard with them again?” Len asked, frowning. He pulled his cut back on before he climbed onto his bike. Jeb grunted as he opened his saddle bag making sure he still had cartridges for the flare gun, just in case they got into trouble.
“Yeah, you know that fucker just can’t stay away.” Harry grumbled, his face twisted into a frown. Jeb didn’t disagree, the man they were talking about was called, “The Shepherd”, by his crazy cult followers. He was the nastiest of the group, and they’d managed to kill half of his insane flock, but they hadn’t gotten the Shepherd, and he’d showed up a month later with new followers. Jeb hated the fact that they’d missed the bastard again the second time too. He still couldn’t figure out how the crazy son-of-a-bitch was escaping.
“Don’t know, but I hope he is because I have a bullet with that assholes name on it.” Jeb muttered as he climbed on his bike. He looked around seeing that most of the men were locked and loaded. He motioned for them to get moving, kicking his own ride into gear, and headed out toward the gate with a grim determination to kill that freak and his followers this time.
Jeb, Len, and Harry headed out the gates like bats out of hell, ready to help the group Scratches and Bleak led. Jeb hoped like hell those dickheads hadn’t killed any of his friends because he’d already lost too many to count. Jeb kept an eye out for deadheads in the road as he zoomed by burnt out buildings and broken-down cars with grass growing out of them. The world was becoming one of those eerie places you used to see on horror flicks that were abandoned and overgrown. Manicured lawns became three-foot grass sprinkled with weeds, broken lawn furniture, and fallen fences. It was funny that just two years ago, the street he was currently driving down had been a ritzy middle-class suburb, and now it was a ghost town filled with monsters.
Jeb slowed down maneuvering around another car, only to swerve quickly to avoid a deadhead that tried to grab him as he went by. It was wearing a ripped and faded business suit and looked like it was nearing the end of its life cycle. He could tell because its eyes looked red—after a while deadhead’s eyes were nothing but busted blood vessels—and it had some kind of cysts or boils on its face, drooling like a dog with rabies. Jeb had slowed down enough that the things arms smacked into his side and he hissed with pain, grunting as he held the bike steady and zoomed by it. He glanced back to make sure that Harry and Len made it around ok and was glad to see they’d swung the curve a bit wider than he had and didn’t have any issues avoiding the deadhead. Satisfied that they’d made it through, he headed out to the main highway heading towards the hilltop area where they’d be able to get a good look at what they were dealing with.
Scratches and Bleak would lead them down the highway that the club had lined with cars to keep the deadheads off the road, so that if they were being chased, they weren’t also dealing with swerving to avoid deadheads—alive or dead. Of course, the alive part could be debated because they weren’t human, but he supposed they were living. The club had lined the road with the heaviest SUV’s and Semi-trailers for about ten miles. To keep anyone from slipping under the trailers to escape the long stretch of flat terrain, they’d welded panels to the sides of the trailers, as well as, filled in the gaps between trailers the same way. That way anyone following them would be forced to go the way they herded them. The idea—from some guy who’d once been a truck driver, who’d joined them about a year ago after they’d saved him and his sister. Thankfully they saved them because that had saved their asses more than once as well.
Grit—who wasn’t a fan of adding to their responsibilities by saving people—had even said that it was a good thing that Jeb and Stitch had brought him back, and from Grit that was high praises. His brother wasn’t a bleeding heart like he seemed to be, and he didn’t want to bring in any survivors they found outside the walls—Grit always said bringing people in was too risky.
Jeb couldn’t argue that point, and more than once he had to put down some idiot who tried something stupid. Jeb figured they didn’t have much choice about bringing people into their home when they had lost men just about every time they stepped foot outside of the gates. When the club was strong before the world imploded, maybe they might have been able to get away with that, but not when they were only a ragtag outfit of bikers and civilians living together just trying not to die. There wasn’t much of humanity left, and Jeb figured those that were had to stick together. Bikers for the most part were good at judging people and their intentions. One good thing about who they’d been before the fall of the world, was that they were good at handling shit. Only a dozen or so of the people they’d added to the compound over the past two years had turned out to be bad eggs.
They began pulling up to the hilltop bridge that would give him a good view down the road, so that he could see what they were dealing with before heading down to where the others were waiting on them. Jeb climbed off his bike, pulling his gun out of its’ holster, looking around at the area surrounding him checking for deadheads. Two of them were moving jerkily out of the trees a few feet away and Jeb raised the Glock. He realized as he shot the young woman—who was wearing a yellow sundress that was dirty and covered in grass stains, with a bite mark on her cheek—right between the eyes, that she’d had a broken leg. He made quick work of the second deadhead too, shooting him in the head as well, watching as the body fall with a dispassionate stare not fazed by the grimy jeans and ripped Led Zeplin t-shirt the kid wore, or the fact that he had a bear trap clamped on his right leg.
Len and Harry climbed off their bikes taking out a few other deadhead’s who’d come up the hill running at them. Jeb turned to the road, walking to the edge with his binoculars in his hand trusting his men to take care of any deadheads in the area before they attacked him. He zoomed out seeing the riders coming towards them. He could tell that they were still about two miles out, but they were coming in fast and hard. He could just barely see the bikes and the semi that they were escorting with any supplies or people that they were bringing home, but he still couldn’t see what was chasing them.
“Jeb, shit, look out,” Harry cried.
Jeb dropped the binoculars from his face and spun to see what Harry was yelling about. He saw four deadheads coming out of the tree line fast, two of them foaming at the mouth. Yuck, that drooling shit was always fucking nasty. Jeb knew that none of them liked seeing the insane creatures they’d become if one of these things bit them. He wasn’t a fan of the spit dribbling off their rotted teeth and down their bodies because it was always disgusting—even if he did know it meant that within days the things would be dead. He shot one of the deadheads who was closest to him while he tossed the binoculars down on a patch of grass and grabbed his other gun shooting the second one while backing up quickly, trying to avoid the two still coming for him.
His foot slipped on some loose gravel, cursing as he fell backwards landing hard on his ass. Jeb shot the one in front missing anything important. Cursing, he shoved backwards trying to escape the deadhead that was only inches away from him. Close enough that the stench from his likely festering wounds and rotten teeth made him gag. He shot again hitting the fucker between the eyes groaning as it fell forward onto him, smearing god knew what all over his chest. He grunted as he shot the last of the damned things, watching it fall to the gravel road. He sat there under the nasty thing trying not to vomit from the odor pouring off the body. He glanced over to see why Harry and Len hadn’t come to his rescue.
Jeb wasn’t surprised to see them killing two more deadheads, with at least ten more at their feet, because he’d heard them shooting when he’d been fighting the four coming at him. He was just damned glad Harry had thought to check his back when he did because he’d likely have been dead if he hadn’t. Fuck, he hated these diseased mother-fuckers. Jeb shoved hard on the things shoulder trying to get it off him. It took a minute because the dead man had been rather large and he was now dead weight lying on him. Jeb managed to shove it off himself and got to his feet, wiping the goo from his hand onto his pants, hoping like hell whatever it was didn’t give him some sort of infection or turn him into a deadhead. He glanced down and let out a little growl because the nasty shit was all over his cut and his t-shirt, but his jeans were relatively clean making him realize that the goo was likely the drool the fucker had all over him. Yuck. He pulled the bandana off that he’d wrapped around his face, heading over to his bike to grab some rags from his saddle bags.
“You alright?” Len asked, watching Jeb wipe his face with the rag, removing any blood that might have splattered on his face when he’d shot the thing on top of him.
“Just a little gooey. Doesn’t look like anything got on my face, but the bandana is done for.” Jeb shrugged, tossing the bandana and rags into the little plastic bag. He kept the used rags in plastic bags after he used them until he could wash and bake them dry in the dryers they ran, to kill the virus. He pulled a bottle of alcohol from his pack and used some of it to wash his hands before he took out another bandana and put it on over his face covering his nose and mouth. They’d started doing that as soon as they’d learned that the virus spread via blood too. Jeb knew it wasn’t a full proof way to stop blood from getting into their system, but it was at least a measure they could take.
“Yeah, I noticed those second two were about to pop.” Harry muttered. “Sorry it was a late warning. We didn’t expect to find that many up here. We send the team up here to clear it once a week, shouldn’t have been this many here. I wonder where they’re coming from?”
“They’re from that little community that we traded with a month or so ago.” Len muttered. “Fuck, when are good people going to stop dying. They had a good set up on that air force base, even if the walls were made of wood. Wonder what happened?”
“How do you know that’s where they’re from?” Jeb asked, wondering how the other man could know.
“I recognized five of them, and for sure two of them had never been out of the compound because I talked to them the night we were there.” Len explained, his face grim as he shook his head and turned to scan the area again.
“Shit, well that’s another one down then. It’s the second one this month that fell. Eventually there won’t be anyone left but us and the world will be filled with these diseased bastards.” Harry muttered, and Jeb couldn’t disagree. He wasn’t even sure that they’d survive this damned thing anymore. There wasn’t a cure coming, that much was clear after two years, but he’d hoped that maybe they could hold out till they all died off, but that was likely a pipe dream.
“Let me see if I can see what Scratches and Bleak are dealing with so we can go get the men in formation to take them out. I want these cult assholes dead before the end of the day for fucks sake, and we have to get our asses moving if that’s the case.” Jeb moved over to the discarded binoculars, glad to see when he lifted them up that he hadn’t damaged them when he’d tossed them. Thankfully they were military grade and made for durability.
Lifting them to his eyes he stepped to the edge again, looking out see that during their fight, the group had gotten a lot closer. He could see that they had about five military trucks zooming up behind them. Fuck, those weren’t going to be easy to take out. He was glad that Tim was with the team he’d taken out, because the man had likely brought along some rocket launchers. He was former military and he’d brought a lot of nice toys with him and his four guys when he’d joined them. Jeb lowered the binoculars heading to his bike.
“Let’s move. We need to get down there and set up. I want men along both sides with the heavy stuff ready. We are going to be cutting this one close boys.” Jeb ordered, as he kicked his bike into gear, idling while he waited on Harry and Len to do the same.