While most of this story seems to want Skillet as a soundtrack, for this episode it’s Thousand Foot Krutch’s Smack Down.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
“Whoa,” Tim said, swerving. “Watch that crosswind.”
“Yeah. Last thing I need is to tangle with another bike again.” Palmer hunched his thin shoulders against the wind. “Damn, it’s cold out here. If Cleve wants these patrols so bad, he oughtta be out —”
“Hey!” Tim barked, braking hard; Palmer shot past him and stopped, looking back. “Look down there. Is that…?”
Palmer slipped their handheld radio out of the water carrier and thumbed the TALK button. “Laurel? Can you hear us?”
“Just,” Sara responded. “What is it?”
“Possible sighting. We’re on Satellite, south.”
“Yup,” said Tim, looking through the binoculars. “Eight men, on foot, all armed.”
“Possible?” said Sara.
“Confirmed now. Tim says eight armed men.”
“Stand by.” A minute later, Cleve spoke. “Don’t try to make contact. Stay out of shooting range, but keep ’em in sight as best you can. And stay in touch. I’ll tell the others to get ready up here.”
“Should we let ’em see us?”
“Not unless you’re sure you can get away quick. You guys are fast, but you can’t outrun a bullet.”
“Right. Palmer out.”
“Laurel standing by.”
“You still see ’em, Tim?”
“Yeah. We need to put some more space between us though.”
“What if we have to duck off the road?”
“Hope some of those offices are unlocked.”
“Should be. The world ended on a weekday, after all.”
“We’ve been marching for a day and a half,” Ray-ban griped. “That smoke don’t look any closer.” Hiking up I-85, they had first spotted a large smoke plume late yesterday afternoon. They camped in an office building and pushed on at first light. As they drew nearer, around noon they cut over to a four-lane road paralleling the freeway. Street signs identified it as “Satellite Boulevard.”
“We’ll get there well before dark,” Frank assured him. “Just keep —”
Worleigh, in the lead, stopped and raised a hand; the others paused.
“What is it?”
“A flicker. Something reflected the sun up ahead. But it’s not there now.”
“You think it’s them?” Will hefted his pistol.
“So much for surprising them, then,” Bob grumbled.
“Gowd-a will give us the victory regardless,” Worleigh said. “But be wary, and be prepared to join the battle.”
“I’m comin’ out to the QuickFill,” Cleve said. “Save some time if you need backup.”
“Thanks,” Palmer replied. “Tim thinks they might have seen us… they’ve spread out some.”
“Don’t let them get close enough to shoot!” Cleve snapped.
“Roger that. Palmer out. Tim, give me the binoculars a minute.” He took them and looked. “Oh… shit!”
“What is it?”
“It’s them!” Palmer yelled into the radio; he dropped the binoculars and Tim had to catch them. “Cleve! It’s them! The same bunch from that first weekend!”
“What? You sure?”
“Yeah. Remember the one with the mirrored sunglasses? He’s one of them.”
“There’s plenty of people had mirrorshades.”
“Who carried guns around? There ain’t that many people left, remember.”
“Yeah… he may or may not be the same one. Come on back… no, wait. Stay out of shooting range, but make sure they see you when you round the corner off Satellite.”
“What, you want us to lead ’em home?”
“Yeah. We’re gonna settle this. Today. Meet me at the QuickFill. Cleve out.”
“Too far for a good shot,” Frank said, sighting the riders down the detached scope of his deer rifle. “Too much wind, too gusty to compensate… hey, they’re stopping again. Something ain’t right up there.”
“Gowd-a stops them,” said Worleigh. “Thus they lead us to their lair.”
“There they go again,” said Frank. “They just hung a left at the intersection up there.”
“Why don’t we take a shortcut?” asked Jered, pointing to an office park entrance to their left. “With a little luck, we might get around ’em.”
“Worleigh paused a moment. “That shall be as Gowd-a wills. But your idea is good. If they plan an ambush, we shall come at them from an unexpected direction.”
“They’re going off the street!” Palmer said into the radio, peering around a pedestal. “They ducked into that office park about a half-mile down.”
“Get on up here to the QuickFill then,” said Cleve. “Pronto.”
Tim and Palmer slipped through the truck traffic and met Cleve on his police bike. They had found the bike in Norcross; it had blue lights and a police radio, and the brackets were easily adapted to the ham radios they were using. Cleve turned on the blue light and started up the street, Tim and Palmer close behind; trucks slowed and bunched up behind them. “Does that office park back into anything on this side?” Cleve asked them as they rode.
“They can walk across a strip of landscaping and they’ll be in the office park we just passed,” said Tim, pointing at the entrance behind them. “It’s like they’re taking a shortcut. How would they know where to go?”
Cleve pointed at the sky ahead of them. “Smoke signals, probably. They’ll be at the gate in half an hour, an hour tops. Sooner if they run, but I don’t think they’re in that big a hurry.”
“So do we have enough time to get ready?”
“Yeah. Everyone’s already on alert. We can be ready in ten minutes.” Cleve thumbed the mike clipped to his shirt collar. “Sara. Tell Johnny and the others to get in position. Our old friends might be back for a rematch.”
“Yeah. We’ll take ’em, but it won’t be pretty. See you in about three minutes.”
“So much for getting around ’em,” Charlie said, pointing at the smoke rising from down the street. “It didn’t go far enough.”
“Don’t matter,” Frank said. “We’ll go behind the buildings on this side of the road. They won’t see us ’til we’re there.”
“I’ll be safer up there than you’ll be,” Sondra told Cody behind the guardhouse, one hand on the stepladder, the carbine on her shoulder. “They’ll all be looking at you guys over there in the ditch. If they see me at all, it’ll be too late. For them, anyway.”
“Yeah,” said Cody, not sounding at all convinced. “Just be careful, okay?”
“You too.” They kissed, long and deep. “We’ll have some fun tonight, okay? All night.” She grinned, let him go, and mounted the ladder.
“Cody!” Cleve yelled. “Shake a leg!”
“Yeah, yeah!” Sondra gets off on this, he thought as her boots disappeared over the eaves. She turned, waved, and blew him a kiss. He grinned and jogged away to join the others.