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Authors: A.R. Wise

Deadlocked 7

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DEADLOCKED 7

Legacies

 

By A. R. Wise

 

 

Kindle Edition

Copyright 2013
Aaron Wise

 

Cover design by A.R. Wise

Original photo by FantasyStock

 

Kindle
Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to
amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

PART ONE

FALLING APART

 

 

Chapter One
– Martyrs and Leaders

Two
months before the apocalypse

Annie Conrad is three-years-old, at home sick
.

 

Annie’s stomach churned as she clenched the covers to her chin. The sun peered through her window even though her mother had drawn the blinds. Annie had been sick for the past few days, and her mother insisted that she get as much rest as possible. She had been falling in and out of sleep, a confusing mesh of dream and reality.

She was sweating, but was still intolerably cold. Her throat was sore and her nose was plugged enough that no amount of blowing seemed able to break through the wall of snot.
A mound of tissues lay beside the bed, next to a lidded cup of orange juice that she was supposed to have finished by now.

“Mommy,” she called out, her voice hardly a croak.

She coughed and tried again.

“Mommy!”

No answer. She decided to get out of bed, which was far more arduous than she expected. The cool air outside of her blankets felt like a refrigerator, and the sweat on her forehead became suddenly unbearable, as if it had turned to ice. She soldiered on and pulled her blanket off the bed to wrap around her shoulders. Several stuffed cats fell to the floor, placed on the bed by her mother in an attempt to comfort her.

Annie shuffled to the door and it creaked as she opened it. “Mommy?”

There was no sign of life in the house except for the near silent hum of laughter from somewhere far away, as if ghosts were playing behind the walls. Annie wiped her nose on her arm and went to the stairs that led down to the kitchen and den. She descended cautiously, her head dizzy from the flu she was suffering through, and gripped the handrail as she took each tenuous step.

She recognized her sister’s laugh come from the garage and headed
that way. She walked along the side of the granite topped island that separated the kitchen from the den and went to the door to the garage. She was about to open it, but then felt nervous. She could hear her father talking, although she couldn’t discern his words, and then the joyous burst of her sister’s laughter.

Kim was in the garage with their father, and for reasons Annie couldn’t explain it felt like opening the door would be an intrusion on them. She was worried that she would get in trouble for leaving her room
without finishing her orange juice. She put her ear against the door, but it was intensely cold and she recoiled from it. She rubbed her palm on the surface to warm it and then put her head back to eavesdrop.

She could understand a few words here and there, but the context was lost. To hear what they were talking about she would have to open the door.

Annie held her breath as she turned the knob. There was no reason to fret, but she did anyhow, as if afraid of getting caught and scolded for interfering with Kim’s time with her father.

The garage was open, and the brilliance of the sunlight was blinding as Annie opened the door from the kitchen. She squinted as the shadowy figures slowly became visible.

“We can paint it all pink,” said Kim.

Annie’s father
was in the middle of the garage, beside a wooden stand that held a dollhouse he’d built for Kim. He was splattered with pink paint and was focused on the side of the house, with his back to the door that Annie watched from.

“You can’t paint the whole thing pink, goofball,” said their father.

“Why not?” asked Kim. She was standing on the tips of her toes, and then let her feet fall flat before rising again. She was practicing for ballet class even while helping their father with the project.

“Because you just can’t,” he said, seemingly unsure of the reason. “You need to have some other colors.”

“I just want it pink.” Kim was steadfast in her decision.

“You’re just saying that because you want to play with it soon.”

“Yeah, so?” Kim was holding a paintbrush too, but she was standing back from the dollhouse as she watched their father work. She held her hands high in the air, the paintbrush like a steeple above her, as she rose to the tips of her toes, another ballerina pose.

“You need to be patient, kiddo. Trust me, if we take the time to do this right it’ll all pay off when it’s done.”

“How much longer?” asked Kim.

Annie’s father chuckled and wiped sweat off his brow with his wrist. “If we can get all the details finished today, then you can play with it tomorrow.”

Kim groaned. “But Dad, tomorrow we have to go to Grandma’s. I won’t get to play with it all day.”


Well, would you rather play with a finished doll house tomorrow or a half done one today?”

Kim thought about it for a second. “A half one today.”

Annie’s father rolled his eyes and grimaced at his daughter. “Stop it. Trust me, you’ll be happier if we take our time. Now get me the model paints on the bench. You can help me paint the shingles.”

Annie knew her father’s bench was near the door, and she didn’t want to get caught. She let the door close, but didn’t pull it shut to avoid alerting them that she’d been spying. She backed away from the door, tense and
fearful. Her blanket clumped under her foot as she stepped back. She stumbled, and then the blanket slid over the tile, pulling her foot along with it. She fell hard on her butt.

Just as she landed, the door that led to the back porch opened. Her mother came in wearing a pair of dirty green gloves and equally soiled shorts. She stopped in her tracks when she saw her daughter.

“Annie? What are you doing up, honey? Are you feeling better?” Annie’s mother sounded hopeful as she smiled.

Annie looked at the door to the garage, and then back at her mother. She wasn’t sure why, but she started to cry.

 

*   *   * 

 

August 24
th
, 20 years after the apocalypse

Annie is in the steeple above the church
.

 

Annie trembled as she held David’s hand. The boy was trying to look out at the thoroughfare where his mother had died, but there was nothing but destruction to see there. A mire of blood and body parts mingled with the debris from the explosion, and the haze of dust mixed with the smoke that wafted in from the burning field beyond. If ever there was hell on earth, this church surrounded by it.

Laura
cried out her lost daughter’s name again and again as Zack tried to comfort her. There was no solace from this. Her heartache could never be healed.

“Honey, we need to get you back down,” said Annie, but her hands were shaking as she looked down the ladder from the steeple where they were perched.

“I don’t want to go down,” said David.

“You have to.” Annie tried to be strong, and wanted to stop crying, but it was impossible. She
trembled with sorrow, her stomach clenching every time she tried to breathe.

David looked up at his aunt and his expression contorted with tortured sadness. “I’m going to miss her so much.”

Annie pulled him back to her chest and held the boy like she had for the past several minutes. “Me too, baby. Me too. But she did what she had to. She saved us.”

“Is she going to heaven?”

“If there’s a heaven, they’re busting down the doors for her right now.”

“I wish I was there with her,” said David.

“No, honey, don’t say that. We need you here. Okay?” She held his head and wiped his tears as she looked down at him. “Your Dad needs you, and your Nana. I need you too, more than ever, kiddo. More than ever.”

Annie heard Arthur sobbing below
, near the church’s entrance, and she tucked David’s head back against her chest to keep him from hearing his father’s heartbreak. Then she heard the all too familiar sound of a horde’s hungry moan. This wasn’t over yet.

The creatures were still appearing from the various shops that lined the thoroughfare.
Kim had killed the majority of the ones that had already escaped their prisons, but there were still plenty more to deal with.

“Concentrate on the west,” said Billy. He’d taken over command of the Rollers to allow Laura time to mourn. He was limping along the inside wall of the circle of trucks that fortified the church and it was clear that every step tortured his back. “We need more guns mountainside, now.”

The steeple afforded Annie a complete view of the horizon and she turned to look west to see what Billy was worried about. The burning field was to the east, in the direction that Kim had run before lighting the fuse of her bomb, and had been where the majority of the Greys had appeared. However, the creatures were also pouring forth from the buildings toward the mountains, and were headed this way.

Annie adjusted her position to aim west and wiped tears from her eye before staring down the scope, ready to take out her anger on the creatures below. She anticipated
that they would rush to the partition wall on the other side of the trucks, but they didn’t seem interested in the Rollers. Instead, the creatures avoided the camp, like a stream coursing around a stone it couldn’t flow over.

The Rollers below didn’t waste time
and decimated the ranks of the creatures, but Annie was too perplexed to fire. She watched the monsters claw at one another in an attempt to run past the camp. They were focused on something to the east, and had no interest in the High Rollers.

The flood of
undead slid past them and reformed on the road that led to the fire. For a moment, it seemed as if they were going to flee directly into the flames, but something else stopped them. The freshest corpses, the ones whose ligaments and musculature hadn’t deteriorated to the point that they were forced to shamble, ran down the street to the spot where Kim had detonated the bomb. The pavement was cracked and blackened, and there was no sign of Kim’s remains to be seen amid the mess of debris, but the zombies seemed intent on finding them anyhow. They skid to their knees and dug through the corpses of their brethren, scraping their hands through the blood on the pavement before shoving their fingers into their mouths.

“What the hell?” asked Annie as she watched.

The horde swelled in the spot where Annie’s sister had died, ignoring the camp of fresh meat behind them in favor of a taste of Kim’s remains. They clawed at one another, roaring as they fought to get to their meal. One of the creatures, a tall, lanky zombie with short hair and a missing eye, stood from the pile while holding a severed hand. The other monsters were enraged by his discovery, and the zombie ran from the pack with his newfound treasure.

Annie watched thr
ough her scope and saw the glint of Kim’s wedding ring on the severed hand that the zombies fought over. A rush of anger surged through her and she fired a shot at the zombie that had taken Kim’s hand, exploding his head into a mist of black blood and gore.

It did little good. As soon as the monster fell dead, another was there to catch Kim’s falling hand. Then the horde swelled, a heap of writhing undead fighting over the flesh of the martyred Roller.

Confusion addled the men and women below as the Greys surged past the camp. The Rollers continued to fire into the swell of creatures until they heard Laura shouting from the lead truck.

“Hold your fire!”

Annie’s mother stood strong, her sorrow momentarily forgotten, as she maintained her mantle as captain. The Rollers obeyed and the gunshots slowly began to cease as word got around that Laura wanted them to stop. Then Annie’s mother looked up at her surviving daughter in the steeple, and spun her finger in the air.

Annie was confused at first, but then realized what Laura was
trying to motion a warning for. She heard helicopters.

“What’s wrong?” asked David as he looked down at his grandmother.

Annie hushed the boy as she tried to stand up straighter to get a better look around. Night had fallen over the horizon, but the blazing fire in the field to the east illuminated the scene, casting fierce, wavering shadows over everything. The sky was hazed with smoke, blazing nearly as bright as the fire below, as if heaven itself was burning.

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