Barbarians at the Gate
Jasper got up, trying to process what he had seen. He grabbed his sword from where Robert had dropped it, and turned, ready to keep fighting if he had to. He could barely breathe. The lot seemed nearly empty, with all the zombies down. Robert was already down, a nice neat bullet hole in his forehead. Mona was just getting up, her eyes white and full of hunger. Where the hell had she come from? Jasper swung the sword, taking her head off. He cried a little as he did it. The pain in his side was beyond anything he could imagine. He didn’t know how he was able to stand.
Jasper started looking for Taylor, scanning the faces around him. Naomi came running, grabbed him under the shoulder, apparently she could see that he was in too much pain to stand on his own.
“Taylor, she jumped in the dumpster. She’s alright. Let’s go get your girl.”
Naomi supported him as they made their way across the parking lot. Amazing how small it actually was, space for a couple dozen cars at most. So much had happened, a war, in a few thousand square feet. Jasper thought his monstrous house in Bedford was larger.
Jasper said, “I have to stand on my own, I have to make sure Taylor sees me standing strong.”
“Kay jackass. All good, but you sure you ain’t gonna drop soon as I let you go though?”
“Yep. Well, maybe sure is pushing it. How about let’s try it and if I fall down we go another route?”
Naomi let go, and Jasper didn’t fall down. It was a close thing though. He let Naomi take care of opening the dumpster lid, he didn’t think he could manage it on his own.
Taylor looked up at him, tears streaming down her face. She reached out her arms, and he grabbed her, lifting her into an embrace. He almost faltered, almost dropped her, but he didn’t. No amount of pain was going to make him let Taylor down now.
They mopped up the zombies pretty quickly from there. As soon as no more could come in it was a matter of time. Jasper sat that part out, his injuries were bad enough that in the old world he would have been in the hospital by now. The building had a doctor of sorts, really a paramedic, but he was the closest thing they had. He patched Jasper up, bound his chest, told him to stay off of his feet. Including Karen, the building lost ten people. Robert and Mona made it an even dozen. Jasper was never sure who put down Robert after he turned, but he didn’t really care. He hated the man, of course, but he never developed the same kind of fixation that Robert had on him. Instead, he moved his focus to cleaning up, to making things better for his daughter.
The next few days were hard. They had to repair the damage to the fence, building a new gateway. Naomi spent most of her days pouring over maps, figuring out where supplies might be. There was an intense flurry of activity. Jasper spent a lot of time outside despite the protests of the medic, and of Naomi, but he made sure to spend as much time as possible with Taylor.
They were able to find the supplies, not only to fix the gate but to finally add the extra gates to the ends of the street. They lost three more people during that operation. Construction was hard, always. It was Taylor that came up with the portable building zones. Vehicle mounted temporary fencing that could be interlinked to keep zombies away from the work crews, something they adopted much later on.
As winter progressed the building dug in, hardened their perimeter. They maintained their commitment to allowing new people in, however. More people meant survival.