Copyright©2017 Michelle Woods
It started in the summer when the heat rose up off the pavement in hazy waves of steam. The air was filled with the sound of children’s laughter and the sweet scent of barbeque on the grill. Time seemed to pass slower because the days were long and the runs were short. The club had more than two hundred members at the time, and life was good. No one expected the horror that hovered on the horizon. The first reports blasted across the country and were met with disdain and disbelief. Summer was supposed to be filled with laughter and redneck slip ‘n slides, not death and destruction.
Infection, that’s what they’d called it in the early days. It was a word used to describe the horror that caused friends to murder friends and strangers to become families. Those were the days when everyone thought there would eventually be a cure, but that was only a pipe dream. It couldn’t be stopped and none of the experts expected the infection to get out of hand. They didn’t expect it to morph and travel so easily from area to area, they thought they could contain it, but they were wrong.
Now it was a game of survival and the Crimson Blades MC had always been good at surviving, even when shit hit the fan and the world went to hell.
He’d lost count of the number of times that he’d wished they could go back to those long summer days when the world was normal. He would have laughed at anyone who told him he’d miss dealing with club rivalry bullshit or getting harassed by the cops. After two years of living in the shit storm he dealt with on a daily basis, looking back he could definitely say those days seemed idyllic and easy. How had they gone from riding hard and playing even harder, to barely surviving?
Jebidah “Jeb” Blackwell didn’t know, but he wanted things to go back to the way they’d been before the infected had started popping up all over the country. As his eyes scanned the sky above him, he let out a long sigh as he leaned back into the support behind him. The porch creaked under his feet and he jerked while glancing around his immediate vicinity with his hand resting on his gun. Realizing it was just the wood settling, he let out a sigh and relaxed. He still couldn’t believe that this was his life now. When the first reports started playing on the radio, he’d ignored them. It had seemed like bullshit when they’d talked about people going crazy and attacking each other in the streets.
He wasn’t the only one, the whole fucking club had ignored those reports. What did they care, as long as it wasn’t affecting their family, or their way of life. Well, Scoot, their very own conspiracy theorist, had paid attention to those stories. Of course, most of the club had thought he was nuts—running around, yelling about preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Nobody had listened, they’d just laughed and teased him about taking his anti-psychotics and went right on living life just like they always had. Jeb glanced over to the wall—made from steel sheets and reinforced with heavy struts—that enclosed the clubhouse and surrounding houses. That wall was thanks to Scoot, and every man in the club was now grateful that he’d been a crazy old coot who’d started collecting the sheets of fifteen-foot metal by liberating them from a construction site about ten miles from the clubhouse just days after those first reports.
Jeb rubbed a hand over his neatly trimmed beard, letting out a groan as he shifted, still thinking of the past. One night after a run, he’d turned the TV on to find an emergency broadcast on every station, even the ones that weren’t typically stations for that type of story. Hell, even the sci-fi channel had the broadcast on. It had been eerie and a little disturbing seeing all those stations playing the same thing on a loop. He’d thought that maybe it was some prank one of the boys played on him so he’d walked over to Hobbs place to bitch at him because he was the one most likely behind that shit, being as Hobbs was the resident computer expert.
Jeb had found sixteen of his brothers camped out in Hobbs living room watching the same broadcast with varying degrees of alarm on their faces. That was a freaky fucking sight, because fear was not a part of a bikers’ vocabulary. Riding with people allowed you to get to know them, and he’d known that shit was real the moment he’d stepped into Hobbs place because of the expressions on their ugly mugs. Fuck, that night seemed like a lifetime ago. Watching that widescreen TV with seventeen bikers who were all shitting their pants because they couldn’t figure out what the fuck to do with the information they were watching.
Jeb dug the pack of cigarettes out of his pants pocket. He shook one out of the pack, realizing it was the last one. Damn, he’d known that he was going to run out, but he’d hoped to make it till they went into town to scavenge. He pulled out his lighter and held it to the end of his cigarette, taking a long drag. He flicked his lighter closed and shoved it back into his pocket along with the empty pack. Looking up at the sky again, he noted that the stars seemed brighter tonight. Every night the sky seemed to be clearer and less polluted, with more stars coming into focus. He’d never thought that cleaner, fresher air would be something he found depressing, but it was. It must be nearing summer because it was hot out and it had been dark for at least an hour.
After taking another long puff, Jeb jumped off the porch and started his nightly perimeter check. Not that he needed to check the perimeter, it was just something useless he did every night, mostly out of boredom. He realized as he walked towards the wall that he’d forgotten his radio back at his cabin. Jeb shrugged it off—he didn’t need it inside the walls anyway. He looked up nodding to Kicker, who was positioned on the wall above him, keeping an eye out for trouble. Jeb headed down the south wall checking for any weak spots by shaking the supports, not that any of the steel supports had ever moved. Twisted had been a construction worker before he was part of the club and knew what he was doing when he’d laid out the plan for the wall.
Log on September 7th for the rest of Chapter 1
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this month to read about Jeb and the world he lives in...