Read Refuge From The Dead (Book 1): Lockdown Online

Authors: Joseph A. Coley

Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse

Refuge From The Dead (Book 1): Lockdown

BOOK: Refuge From The Dead (Book 1): Lockdown
9.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub















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Cover art by Eloise Knapp



The end of the world started six weeks ago.

Michael Thomas Caine had no idea.

Not that he would have noticed. He’d been too busy those six weeks. Starting a new job – no, a new
is what he’d had his sights on for the last two months. Even though it wasn’t the most glamorous, he was still suited for the work. Or so he’d thought. Fact of the matter was, he was a little out of shape, but that wasn’t a problem. The Virginia Department of Corrections was currently taking care of that.

“Come on Caine! Get your ass in gear!” Captain Rodriguez yelled. It wasn’t that Michael was slacking; Rodriguez was trying his best to motivate the middle-aged officer.

Michael Caine sucked wind. If he wasn’t tired from the previous hour of PT, he sure as hell was now. After running triple taps down and back in the gym – a sadistic version of old school “suicides,” endless push-ups, diamond push-ups, flutter kicks, and bricklayers, he was ready to take a few minutes to breathe. Oh no, that wasn’t the case. His instructors, Captains Chance and Rodriguez weren’t quite done with him yet.

“Four minutes!” Rodriguez yelled again.

Michael had to finish the required run in less than six minutes, and he was well on his way to doing that. The extra push was a good measuring stick of how his training was going. He was going to give it all he had and see where he stood as far as physical fitness went. In the past six weeks, he had been tear gassed, sprayed with OC (pepper spray), and been shocked with 75,000 volts coming from an electrified shield. He’d come through everything so far with flying colors.

He huffed, puffed, and blew what little oxygen he had left out of his lungs. He pounded the pavement for the last hundred yards, sprinting half that distance. His lungs burned, his muscles were on the verge of completely cramping his entire body, and he couldn’t be happier. He had finished, and finished strong. His six-foot tall, two hundred and fifty pound frame had given every ounce of energy.

“Four minutes, ten seconds, Caine! Good job!” Captain Chance yelled as he passed the finish line.

Caine panted heavily, his hands on his hips. Although it was only a half-mile run, it felt much longer. At his age, simply finishing the academy was a huge accomplishment. Thirty-five years old and out of shape wasn’t a prerequisite for hiring at the Department of Corrections, but that was all he had to work with. With the job market being as horrible as it was, there wasn’t much available. After spending the last few years in the Army, he was ready to try something new. Being a combat medic for the last six years had shown him that he was able to handle just about any situation. EMS jobs in the area didn’t pay very well, so he opted to try something else. He had talked to some of his friends after he got out, and most of them were getting into law enforcement in some capacity. He was too old – in his own opinion – to be a police officer, so DOC was the next best thing.

Or so he thought.

Although the pay wasn’t the best in the world, it was a job. Starting at a paltry $29,000 a year wouldn’t make him independently wealthy anytime soon, but it would pay the bills. And the bills were adding up. A year ago almost to the day, Michael Caine had been blessed with his first child, a girl. When his wife took off for her maternity leave, Michael tried his best to fill the void left by her income but failed. Working two jobs and trying to support a family was well within his grasp, but it was by no means easy. Being gone a lot of the time didn’t sit well with him, especially now that he had a little girl at home that was his entire existence. Her name was Anna, and she had him wrapped around her little finger. Whatever she needed, he would work double and triple shifts in a row to try to give it to her. She was his everything.

Anna’s birth left a heavy burden on him and his wife, Lindsey. She worked as an RN at nearby Bluefield Regional Medical Center, and Michael had met her while working for Bluefield Rescue Squad. While he was no stranger to work, she made quite a bit more than he did. They had decided together to let Lindsey be a stay-at-home-mom. Michael would pick up the slack and Lindsey would work part-time only so she could stay at home with Anna.

It didn’t work out so well.

Three months into her short life, Anna had taken ill with a particularly vicious strain of RSV, respiratory syncytial virus, a common illness among infants. She had been shipped off to a children’s hospital in northeast Tennessee for two weeks. While Michael had managed to work the entire time, it put a drain on what little savings they had in the bank. Six months later, they were desperate. Their cable had been cut off, their water had been nearly cut off, and they were dangerously close to eviction. Michael had to do something, and he had to do it quick.

Enter the Department of Corrections. After an extensive background check, a preliminary PT test, and a quick orientation, he started work. Within a couple weeks, he was off to train at the DOC academy in Richmond. The drive was a particular pain in the ass, but the prison – Black Mountain State Prison – provided a state vehicle and paid him for training. The five-and-a-half hour drive was a pain in the ass, but he could finally see the finish line.

So he threw up on it.

Captain Rodriguez clapped his hands together enthusiastically. “Outstanding! You know what that means, Caine?”

Michael Caine retched one final time, spilling the last contents of his stomach. “Does it mean that I passed, sir? Because I don’t think I have much left in the tank, captain.”

Captain Rodriguez gave him a thumbs up. “That is correct. It also means that you put everything you had into that run. Congratulations, Officer Caine. You’ve got nothing left to do here.”

Thank God
, Michael thought.
Another run like that and I’m going to need a lung transplant.

After a few more congratulations from his fellow officers, Michael retired to his room. PT was always the last of the day – in contrast to his former Army days when he did it at 4:30 in the morning. He trudged up to his room at the academy and promptly collapsed on his bed. Sweat was still rolling off him in droves, soiling his pillow and blankets, but he didn’t care.

The last six weeks of his life were one of training, classwork, and traveling. He was glad to be done with it. Tomorrow he would graduate and quickly hit the road home. He would have the weekend off before reporting to Black Mountain State Prison on Monday. Some well-deserved time off and precious time with his wife and daughter was in order.

As if to punctuate his thoughts, his cell phone chirped. It was a text message from his wife, Lindsey. He was allowed to have his cell phone in his room after class, but not on his person during the day. Academy rules weren’t that strict, and he didn’t do anything to test them. Michael rolled off the bed and over to the small desk built into the wall beside his bed. After clearing out some emails, he clicked on the text from Lindsey.

How’d it go? I know you passed, but how much did you kick ass? 

Michael smiled and typed in his response.
Passed with flying colors, babe. I’m coming home tomorrow, should be there around 7p.m. or so.

After a few seconds:
Great! Anna and I are excited to see you! We are so proud of you, daddy!

Michael wanted to hear the sweet voice of his beloved wife, instead of just seeing her emoticons, so he dialed her number and waited. After a few rings, she picked up.

“Couldn’t wait to talk, could you?”
Lindsey said, laughing.

“Just wanted to talk to momma and baby girl. How are you guys doing?”

“We are doing great. Anna is asleep for her afternoon nap, so it’s just me right now. Is daddy going to take care of mommy when he gets home? I’ve been awfully lonely these last few weeks, Michael.”
There was an obvious sexual innuendo in her voice. Michael loved it when she was being a little naughty.

Michael laughed. “Well, the last time that I did that, I ended up with a baby girl. Not that I would trade her for the world, but I think we need to chill out on the baby making. Don’t you?”

Lindsey laughed
. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know you loved making our perfect little girl, don’t try and deny it, Michael Caine.”

“Yeah but I don’t think my wallet can handle it right now. I love her to death, but she poops quite a bit.”

“Yes, she does, but it is well worth it, honey. On the subject of money, though, you will be happy to know that I have been offered a full-time hospital position at Bluefield Regional. They have been short staffed for the last few weeks. I guess they are just getting tired of not having anyone there to cover, so they offered to bump me up to full time whenever you get home. We might finally be able to get back on our feet, Michael. I appreciate everything that you’ve done for us, and we would be much, much worse off than we are now if it hadn’t been for you busting your ass. I love you so much, Michael.”

Michael never felt that his hard work went unnoticed, but it was still nice to hear it from Lindsey. She always made him feel like he was the center of the universe, even when it seemed like the universe was shoving a cactus up his ass.

“Thank you babe. I mean it. I would do anything for you and Anna. You guys are my world and I wouldn’t trade you for anything.”

“Hey, Caine! We’re going out to Hooters to celebrate! You in?” A voice from the hallway called to him. It was Zachary Grant, Caine’s roommate at the academy and another employee of Black Mountain State Prison. He and Michael were two of the seven men sent to the academy by Black Mountain. They had all finished strong and were looking forward to getting to do some actual work at the prison instead of just shadowing other officers.

Grant was twenty-six with all the humor of a sixteen-year-old kid and was another Army veteran, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan until an IED ended his career in the Army. He was more than qualified, however, to serve the Department of Corrections. He had a bum knee, but was otherwise had a great career ahead of him as a corrections officer.

Grant just had shitty timing.

Michael shook his head
while speaking to his wife. “No, I think I’m gonna call it a night, Grant,” He said in the best fake voice he could muster.

Grant covered his mouth. “Oh shit! Is that your wife? My bad, dude!” He hissed.

On the other end of the phone, Lindsey laughed.
“I heard that, Michael Caine. Don’t worry, baby. I know you deserve a night out with the boys. Go and have a good time with the fellas. I will take care of you when you get home tomorrow.”

Another blatant innuendo.

Michael laughed and pointed to Grant. “You’re lucky that my wife is the best woman on Earth, Grant. Yeah, give me a few minutes to talk to her and grab a shower.”

Grant gave him double thumbs up and a goofy-ass grin. “Just don’t tell Claire when she calls my cell. She would eat me alive if she knew I was going to Hooters.”

“Well, you buy the first round and I will put it under consideration.”

Grant grabbed his shower gear and headed to the shower. Michael returned to his conversation. “So, what’s this about the hospital bumping you up?”

“I don’t know, babe. They have had a run of call-ins and some of them are just plain not showing up for work. I don’t know if they are quitting or just not wanting to work, but it does bode well for us. I have a babysitter lined up for whenever you get home, too. Have they told you what shift you are going to work?”

“Well, the Major at Black Mountain said we might as well get used to night shift. I figure after we get done with field training at the prison, they’ll put us on night shift. It’s six in the evening until six in the morning.”

“Well, you have always been a night owl, so I don’t guess that will be a problem for you.”

“Nah, I think it will be fine. All we have to do is put up with the inmates – or, excuse me,
– for about six hours. Once midnight gets there, we won’t have to do a whole hell of a lot. It will give me time to get used to the routines at the prison. It’ll make things more comfortable once I transfer to day shift. Well, if I decide to go to dayshift.”

“Well, Miss Anna is waking up, so I better go for now. Go have a good time with the boys and I will see you tomorrow evening. I love you so much, Michael. I am so proud of you!”

“Thank you, Lindsey. I love you, too. Go take care of my baby girl and I will see you tomorrow.”

“Will do, Officer Caine,”
Lindsey said, laughing.
“I love you, Michael.”

“Love you too, babe. Bye.”

Michael hung up the phone and sat it back down on his desk. Grant came out from the shower and over to his wall locker. “Shower is all yours, Caine.”

“Thanks, dude. Let me get this shit washed off me and we can go get some damn hot wings. I’m starving. I left what little food I had left in my stomach at the finish line.”

Grant looked up absently. “They sell food at Hooters?”

BOOK: Refuge From The Dead (Book 1): Lockdown
9.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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