Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Broken Tomorrow

Copyright©2017 Michelle Woods

Chapter One - Part # 2

Jeb kept walking down the row checking the struts, his mind torturing him with thoughts of the night he entered Hobbs living room as shit hit the fan for the world. He’d sat there perched on the arm of the couch listening to the broadcast with ice flowing through his veins.
The man on TV, a slightly balding overweight guy wearing a lab coat, who had large bushy brows and wore a serious expression, had begun talking about what he’d called an epidemic. Baldy had explained in a monotone voice that nobody should panic about what he had to say—as if that was going to keep anyone from panicking—he then started explaining that they were close to a cure for the disease. After it was explained with a lot of medical mumbo-jumbo—Jeb hadn’t understood—Baldy had started listing off the symptoms at the onset of the infection. Going on to say that if they knew anyone with the symptoms he was describing, they should be isolated and muzzled whenever possible. Jeb could remember thinking muzzling a human was fucked up.
The list of symptoms was odd to say the least, starting with bloodshot eyes—which half the club sported daily—aggressive behaviorwhich described every man in the club—deadening nerves, jerky movements, greying skin, profuse sweating, jaw clenching, and his favorite—loss of senses. Baldy went on to explain that the disease was highly contagious, but that approximately seventy-five percent of the population was immune to the airborne virus, although if bitten by an infected person, the infection rate was one hundred percent.
Jeb could remember thinking what Baldy was saying was bullshit, but then the videos began playing. Videos of the infected—where they watched, as seemingly normal people transformed into crazed animals, who snapped their teeth at people and tried to attack anyone close to them. People were wearing muzzles and were tied to beds with restraints. In that same monotone voice Baldy had talked about vectors and other medical bullshit, he talked about the government researchers getting ahead of the infection and that they should have a cure before the infection could get out of hand. Jeb snorted, because that wasn’t what had happened. Fuck no, what had happened was the infection spread across the country like wildfire.
The infected wasn’t your typical Hollywood undead. They were alive, but they were so far gone they weren’t able to reason or talk. They were nothing but infected cells that burned out the human who’d been contaminated, leaving behind a mindless killing machine. It was hard to think of half dead humans who attacked anything that moved, as anything except zombies. Not that they were what Zombie films made them out to be.
They weren’t dead people with their guts hanging out, or decaying flesh that was falling off the bone. They were people with infected cells that basically changed the persons brain chemistry, making parts of their brains shut down and only re-activating the parts that made them violent and cabalistic. It somehow extended the life of the infected person, but they were just as easy to kill as any human. Gunshot to the heart or head worked every time, but if you missed, you’d better run like hell or keep shooting, because they didn’t feel pain. Only catch about killing them was if you got the blood of the infected on you, it was as dangerous as HIV had been before the world exploded. The change was sudden when infected blood got into your bloodstream and the alterations of your brain chemistry lasted only hours, instead of days like the bite did.
Jeb continued around the outside edge of the perimeter remembering his first encounter with the disease. Old man Davies, who’d been with the club for years as an accountant, was the first person he’d watched change. The transformation had been sudden and the change in the mild-mannered man’s behavior had been shocking. He’d killed Break and Happy before Jeb had put a bullet in his head. He’d stood there staring at the carnage with a sense of disbelief, not that carnage was anything new to him. He was a fucking biker after all, but somehow the shit that had gone down right in front of him felt like it should have been in a Sci-Fi flick.
 Back then he’d just been a club enforcer, just another cog in the wheel. It never occurred to him that he’d one day be a leader of the club, as he’d stood there that day looking at the ripped open throats of his brothers and the friend who’d been with the club for years. He never wanted to be anything more than a cog, and yet here he was the vice president of the Crimson Blades MC. Fuck, that day seemed like a lifetime ago, but it had only been two years. Two long hellish years of fighting for survival. If only he could go back to the time before the world went to shit, he’d liked his life when it was simpler, when he wasn’t the one responsible for the safety of the club. Only when Toke died a year ago, that left the Club with a vote for vice, and he was the lucky son-of-a-bitch they elected. Fuck, it was more than he’d ever wanted. Jeb wasn’t a fucking leader, he was just a man trying to survive. He grunted as he walked around another strut, wishing he wasn’t worried about how they were going to make it through the winter. 
“Hey, Jeb,” Bow called out from his place on the wall above him, interrupting his thoughts. Jeb glanced up, Bow was manning one of the eight towers they’d built to make sure all the walls were secure from the deadheads. Calling them zombies made shit seem too real, and after a while they’d started calling the infected, deadheads. Not that deadheads were the only problems they had to deal with. Hell, ninety percent of their issues came from normal people who wanted what they had and thought they could take it from them—then there were the crazies who just wanted to watch the world burn. If Jeb had learned anything about the world since it had gone to hell, it was that some people were assholes, even when the world was imploding.
“You hear anything from Scratches and Bleak’s group?”
“Nah, they radioed in a few days ago, but they were headed out too far to communicate. They should be back in a few days.” Jeb took another long drag on his cigarette before tossing it down and stomping it out.
“I was just wondering if they’d found Clair and Rhonda.” Bow muttered, staring out into the darkness.
Jeb winced, he wanted to tell the man they’d find his kid and wife alive and well, but the likelihood of that was slim to none. Bow was one of the stragglers from another club they’d found a few months ago. He’d gotten separated from his wife and daughter and had been searching for them when he’d suffered a broken leg trying to escape from some deadheads. If the club hadn’t found him, he’d likely be one of the deadheads.
“If they did, you know they’ll bring them back.” Jeb didn’t add that it was likely to be their bodies, and not living breathing humans that Scratches and Bleak would be bringing back. Bow already knew that, but he just wanted to hold out hope that it wasn’t true. He’d given a beat-up photo of his wife and kid to Scratches when he’d heard that they were heading over to Scottsbluff where they’d found him a few months ago.
“Yeah, yeah. I know.” Bow said, his voice slightly shaking, letting Jeb know he wasn’t holding out much hope that his wife and daughter were still alive, just that they weren’t roaming around eating people. That was the hard part about this disease, it wasn’t that it had stolen so many people from everyone who’d survived, it was thinking about your friends and family running around eating people that twisted your stomach into knots and it made Jeb damned glad he didn’t have any. His mother was long dead and he’d never met his father.
Jeb waved to Bow and kept walking, his mind now filled with all the deadheads he’d killed. The majority had been strangers, but some were friends. Hell, even a few of the sweetbutts that had warmed his bed on a cold night. It was a fucked-up existence they were now forced to live. Sometimes he wondered if it was even worth fighting for anymore, not that he was ready to lay down and become one of the deadheads trying to rip the last of humanity apart, but fuck, what was the point of surviving if it was only going to end with you ripping the throat out of your friends and family at some point.
Fuck, he was a little morbid tonight, maybe he just needed to get laid. With that thought in mind, he headed towards Francine’s place, with his hands in his pockets and his mind swirling around all the people he’d been forced to kill over the past few years. He was almost there when the bells began ringing through the cold silence of the night, making him spring into action as he ran towards the gates, wishing he hadn’t said fuck it, when he realized he’d left his radio on his kitchen counter an hour ago.

Log on September 12th for Chapter 2

Also tune in every Tuesday and Thursday 
this month to read about Jeb and the world he lives in...

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