If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 6, part I
Approaching the base I have expectations of paradise, but turning the corner and heading towards the main gate I see what looks like a base under siege. The American flag is visible at full staff from the highway on the flagpole but there are parts of bodies strewn across the road and littered where mortars have and large caliber ammunition had torn humans apart. Parts of the original fence had been knocked down and trucks with razor wire are filling the gaps. As they open the main gate you can see where the perimeter had collapsed several times while trying to hold the Alamo. We roll through the gate driving past three men and a woman with rifles at the low ready. When inside two of them let their weapons hang on their slings and they push the gate closed.
Mack stops the vehicle and kills the engine. Getting out with the box holding it above his head. “I got it!”
The woman looks at him. “You’re an idiot.”
“What? I knew it’d be there.”
“Only an idiot drives through a Zombie apocalypse to get a horn lever for a car when you CAN’T USE THE HORN!” She yells at him. She’s right, I mean when would you need to use the horn? It will just attract more Zombies, it’s not like there’s traffic. I got out of the passenger seat purposefully leaving the rifle on the seat. “Who’s this?”
“Easy, Tinker Bell. This is Guy.” Now that he said that I realize she looks remarkably like Tinker Bell. She has short blonde hair in a pixie cut and her nose has that slightly upturned cute pointy thing like Tinker Bell. She has a petite little body, the sleeves on her shirt are cut off and you can tell by her arms she’s very fit. Changing the subject Mack got back to important stuff. “The Bug is now complete, absolutely vintage pristine. Cut me some slack. So I like to complete the projects I start.”
“Really, that rule must not apply to KP.” Tinker bell wasn’t relenting.
One of the guys chimes in. “Would you two knock it off.” Turning his attention to me he takes a step. “Where’d he pick you up?”
“Right at the auto mile in Westlake.” Pulling my backpack out of the Bug, I set it on the ground. “I came through the Upper Las Virgenes Preserve from the Valley.”
Tinker bell spoke up. “If you don’t mind stripping down we’d like to make sure you haven’t been bitten.” After a moment of confusion, not sure what I should do I start to take off my shirt. “Whoa, hang on. I’ll go inside and you men can deal with this.” Slinging her weapon she heads into the barracks.
Turning to me Mack offers. “I kind of broke the rules by allowing you to get in the vehicle before I checked you out. I figured he was okay he was being followed by a small crowd of them.” Mack said reaching into the Bug and taking the M16 I had used, I knew he was attempting to deescalate the situation.
“Hi, my name’s Billy O’keefe. Sorry, but it’s in all our best interest if we clear you so there’s no doubt about the virus. If you don’t mind stripping down we’ll make it fast and painless, no one will say ‘squeal like a pig’. Promise.” He says chuckling. I began to pull off my clothes. “This here is Anthony, that’s Steve and Tyler is the one hanging by the gate.” They all nod.
I look at Anthony. “Paisan?”
I nod. “100% My parents were from out side of Tuscany and Sicily.”
“I thought so, with a name like Guy. Gaetano right? My people were from Naples.” He had dark hair, all of them about the same length as Mack. He’s a solid guy with a slight East Coast accent.
“Yeah, everybody calls me Guy. Nice to meet you. I finished disrobing and stood there in my birthday suit like a jackass waiting for them to say I was all clear. Billy made a hand signal to spin around. I turn my back to them.
“Cool. Thanks, sorry for any embarrassment we might have cause you. You can get dressed.”
After putting my clothes back on and grabbing my pack I follow them into the barracks. It’s dark inside. Only light from the windows create pools of light on the ground. There are weapons and ammo strewn about in various states of preparedness. Some are neatly organized into piles where there’s a weapon with it’s ammo in cans set up to grabbed and put into action immediately. There are several different sized rifles apart and look as if they are being cleaned or modified and some are damaged and being scavenged for parts.
I walk over to one of the carbines. It has been modified, I recognize the parts they used on it from some of the work I had done about special operations. Picking it up I’m careful to follow range safety rules. I need them to trust me and nothing will make them skittish about me more than looking like a rookie not knowing how to handle a weapon. I look at Tinker Bell.
“Mind if I look?”
Shaking her head. “No. Go ahead.”
I eject the magazine, pull the charging handle back locking the bolt to the rear and make sure it’s clear. The action is pretty good and is well maintained. I can tell it’s been recently fired because it isn’t spotless, there’s some carbon build up. I turn the dial on the Aimpoint optics and the red dot is absent, I figure the electronics were fried in the sight from the EMP. Raising the barrel I point the muzzle towards the window. The 3x scope is to the side, I flip the lever and it snaps into place easily magnifying the far end of the base. I can tell this had been a special operations weapon because it has a quad rail with a free float barrel. Not standard government issue, that’s for sure.
“It’s a good rig, but there’s no optics so we’re sticking to iron sights. You serve?” Tinker Bell asked.
Mack chimed in before I could reply. “He says he wasn’t in, but he sure does know how to run a rig because he was taking head shots with iron sights at 100 yards.”
“I’ve had some training.” I hit the ping pong paddle and send the bolt forward. In a safe direction I press the trigger. Hearing the click I set the weapon back down exactly as I had found it. “Nothing formal, just a little time on the range.” Satisfied with my answer Tinker Bell throws a couple blankets and a pillow on an empty bunk.
“You can take this bunk. We need to head to the South end of the base for a bit but we’ll be back for supper. Mack, why don’t you stay here with your buddy and make sure he gets comfortable.”
They grab their rifles and head out the door.
“Hey, you wanna take a shower?” Mack was pointing to the door. “The water is probably still fairly warm. We have two tanks that are painted black. One for salt water and one for fresh so they get warmed up during the day, you have to get wet with the salt water and rinse with fresh. Not ideal, but it saves water and it’ll get the grime off.”
“Yeah, that would be great.” I threw my pack on my bunk following Mack outside.
“You want some clean clothes? We have some stuff that might fit you.”
“Thanks Mack, that’d be great.” As her heads off I begin peeling off my clothes and throwing them into a pile, just then I realize just how bad I stink. He was right the water was pretty warm. Warm enough that I didn’t care that it was salt water. I was standing in a shower and had soap and shampoo. Rinsing off with fresh water was more than I could have ever dreamed of.
“Here’s a towel and some clean stuff. Let me know if anything doesn’t fit.” Mack yelled into the stall.
“Copy that Mack, thanks.” I was trying to finish up quickly and get dressed. I don’t want to become the guy who takes Hollywood showers.