Small bands of survivors are joining together, making their way across the devastation of America...
The morning turned to early afternoon before the four trucks pulled up out of the field together, followed the service roadway back onto route 3 and headed toward Clifton. Cammy studied a map as Bear drove.
“It's hard to believe this is as far as we have got in over a month together,” she said as she studied the map.
“We had no real direction,” Bear supplied. “It's not like we had decided on a place and headed toward it.” Bear watched the sides of the road. They were traveling along at less than twenty miles an hour, weaving down into the median, and off onto the service roads that paralleled the highway when they had too.
There were too many cars abandoned next to the road, in the road, even across the road, to be able to keep track of all of them at one time. A large mall came up on the right and Bear slowed at the interchange to look it over. Billy's truck rolled up, the window dropped and Beth leaned out.
“Looks okay,” she said, breaking the silence of the quiet afternoon.
“Except it's quiet,” Bear agreed. “That's always been bad news.”
Beth held up her machine pistol. “We need what we need.”
Bear nodded. “Let's go then... We stay together though.”
Beth nodded, Billy shifted back into drive and waited for Bear to pull away. He pulled in behind him and followed.
There was a thick line of trees behind the shops that Bear didn't like. It seemed like the perfect place for the dead to hide away. He drove slowly into the first Mall area, past the trees and into the second lot. The trees were not as thick up close, but he could still not see through them, and it bothered him. Anything, or one, could be hidden within them. He turned the truck and pointed it back toward the entrance road and shut it down.
Billy, and then Mac, pulled down, turned around, and stopped next to Bear's truck. They shut down too and the ticking of cooling motors filled the silence of the parking lot. Bear looked around the lot, but saw nothing that seemed out of place.
Abandoned cars and trucks. The front doors to a discount store were shattered, the aluminum frames twisted, pushed open wide and pinned against the faux brick front with carts. Bear had left the windows up. He didn't like the idea of having to start the truck to roll them back up. It was better to roll them up before he shut down. He levered the door open, and stepped down to the pavement. Beside him, Billy, Beth, and Mac stepped out of their own vehicles too. The doors chuffed closed, and the silence came back heavy.
Bear scanned the parking lot but saw nothing. He looked over at Beth. She shrugged and looked back over at the wood line Bear turned away and started toward the shattered front entrance, the others fell in behind him.
The front of the store was destroyed. They stayed together, walking aisle to aisle looking for the dead.
The smell had hit all of them when they crossed the threshold into the store. The dead were there: Where they did not know. They walked slowly forward into the huge building. Silent. Safeties off their rifles, waiting.