Robert at the Cottage
Robert was on the road. His goal was his hunting camp, a few hours out of town. Most of the route was on small back roads. He had abandoned his truck early, between the stopped cars and the zombies he had found it impossible. Every few minutes he needed to find a way to move something out of his way. Most of the time that would involve getting out of the truck and the sound of the truck drew zombies towards him. In the end, he’d had to lose half a dozen of the zombies that came up out of nowhere, which meant ditching the truck and moving forward on foot.
It was nothing new to him; he was used to long marches in full kit. Basic paid off once again. Now the camp was coming into sight. Some of the guys were clustered around, drinking, cooking food, making sure the place was secure. A good team; he’d been collecting them for years. Some people thought he was paranoid, building up this group, but in the end, he’d been right, and those people were probably dead. It had taken a very long time, finding guys he could trust, vetting them to make sure they were a fit for the team. Every time he was on a training exercise or active duty, he sought them out, quiet conversations about being prepared, about making sure the government wasn’t taking too much from them, about property rights. His team, his guys. Loyal to each other more than country, more than unit.
A sound behind him made him turn. One of the guys, wearing civvies but carrying his service rifle dropped down on the path behind him. “Sir, glad you made it. We were starting to get worried.”
“Thanks, son, it took a bit longer than I would have liked,” Robert said, “Had to ditch my truck near home. How many made it so far?”
“We have twenty members right now, a few family members too. Total head count not including you is twenty-seven. Still hoping for a few more of course.”
“Right. Your watch?”
“Good work. I had no idea you were there. As you were.”
The man drifted off into the woods, vanishing from sight almost instantly.
There was space for fifty at the camp, rough quarters, a small bunk for each man, not many amenities, but it was secure and hidden. Samantha had been upset about him using so much money for the camp, at least until he had a talking with her. The numbers surprised him; he hadn’t expected nearly that many of his people to survive. The place was a hive of activity, preparations going on all around him. As the men started to see him many of them straightened up, throwing a quick salute his way, or just welcoming him. The fact was they weren’t anything official, despite being almost all from a military background. He wasn’t really a commanding officer either, just the guy who’d had the foresight to create this team, this place, to stock it at great personal expense.
“Gentlemen, glad to see so many of you made it,” Robert said, “Looks like you are doing good work, making real progress. I have a few surprises for us, some things squirrelled away for a rainy day. I’ll address the camp in an hour or so, in the meantime carry on with what you were doing.” He continued into the main bunkhouse.
Originally this place had been a rehab centre, and when it went on the market, he snapped it up. Officially it was a hunting lodge now, used by Robert and his friends, occasionally rented out for large groups. There was a lot more to it than met the eye though. Part of why he had bought it was the cellar, not quite a bunker, but close. A large area under the main building with a heavy steel trap door, hidden under the floorboards. He had no idea why someone had built it, but there it was. He was one of two people who had a key, and it didn’t look like Nick had shown up. Nick lived much, much closer, so he probably wasn’t going to make it.
The cellar was packed, full of surplus gear, MRE’s, tents, weapons, most of it bought under the table. Wouldn’t do for the government to know exactly what he had. The weapons, in particular, were secret. He had half a dozen RPG’s, tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, a couple hundred rifles, all crated. It was enough to equip a small army, and that was what he had, more or less. Men had brought others with them. It was close to two hundred nation wide, most in Nova Scotia. A few were on active duty or stationed somewhere else. Too many were reservists.
“Hey, could some of you give me a hand?” Robert said. Two of the guys rushed over.
Robert handed them boxes. “I need to get all this stuff up to the main building, start doing an inventory.”
They hauled boxes and crates for an hour. There was still a lot of it down there, but it was time for Robert to address the group. “Hey folks, so it looks like the world ended. Glad so many of you made it, and I’m still hoping for more. Anyone who started further out than me is probably still on route. Traffic’s a bitch right now,” This got a small laugh, “We have a lot to deal with right now. I prepared for almost any situation. I know we joked about zombies, but it was pretty much the only one I didn’t take seriously. Well, shows how much I really knew. Anyway, it is what it is. I know all of us have lost people, but we’re soldiers, we keep going. With that in mind, this is a good start point. I’d like to stay here as long as we can manage, but it’s close to the city, it’s not going to be viable forever. Eventually, the zombies will find us, and we will have to move. Could be a day, could be a year. We have to be ready for the idea that it’s more like a day. Once we get the cellar unpacked we need to make sure we are able to move at a moments notice. For those who brought family: they are our number one priority. We protect the civilians, especially the children,” Robert was getting the crowd going, getting them warmed up. They were eating out of his hand, “We will survive this, we, the prepared, the hard working, the self-reliant. The weak, the welfare leeches, the useless masses, they are part of the horde now, still trying to take a bite out of us. I say no more, this time we have the guns. We have the strength. This new world is ours for the taking!”
They cheered for him. Keeping it quiet, they weren’t stupid, but as loud as they dared.
After the speech, Robert commandeered more of the men to help move stuff from the cellar. Inventory was going to take longer than he wanted to spend, they had to be ready to abandon this place at a moments notice. It was decently secured against most potential threats, but a horde of zombies was the one he hadn’t taken seriously, so it wasn’t set up for it. A scattered few buildings, too much space between them. No walls, no fences, they could be built but would need a large area. No cropland either. It wasn’t farm country, too rocky; the soil was too acidic. An island would be better, someplace they could clear of zombies and then use. He called over Tom, currently acting as second in command. “Hey, I’m trying to figure out the best option for moving on from here. I’ve pretty much got it down to PEI or Cape Breton.”
“Good points to both. Cape Breton’s a bit closer. Too hilly though. We need space to grow stuff.”
“That was my thinking too. A place we can build on. Plus, no rocks, right? Okay, that’s the plan. Charlottetown area or Summerside?”
“Summerside. It’s smaller, less zombies to deal with.”
“Thanks, Tom, nice to have someone confirm my thinking.”
The next few days were lost in prep. More people arrived, in the end, they had almost fifty including wives and children, although not many of those. On the morning of the day before they were ready to head out one of the scouts sounded an alarm. Robert jumped out of bed, dressing as he hit the ground. He ran out the door to find the source of the alert. One of the older men ran up, panting, “A horde sir, big.”
“Too many to count sir. Coming right this way. Should hit us within the hour, even as slow as they are moving.”
“Time to go. Pull the men back from watch, get armed.”
Robert started waking the camp, moving fast, “Folks, get moving. We have less than an hour to be gone. Big horde coming. Wake up. Wake up!”
People started jumping out of their beds, wherever they happened to be. It took about fifteen minutes for the camp to be up and moving. Robert started triaging, getting the most essential gear loaded into backpacks and kits. Damn, he wished he could use a truck. It was close to the wire, and there was still equipment that needed to be loaded up, important stuff, but no time, the first zombies started to appear through the trees, and on the narrow dirt road. Just a trickle, the first drops in the flood. He brought his rifle to his shoulder and took out the lead zombies. Some of his men did the same. It might slow the horde for a moment. “Let’s go!” Robert said, “Get moving now, leave whatever isn’t already loaded!”
The camp as a whole started into the woods, following Robert. He looked back at the shelter he had spent so much time on as it was overrun, and then turned, moving forward.