Chapter 8- Part 4
At the gate, Ryan hopped down and opened the lock, pushing the rusted metal out of the way. Fred rolled through and Ryan shut and relocked the gate. Not that it would really keep anything out. Indie noticed immediately that several of the vehicles were missing. Others had gotten away, a wave of relief passed over her only to tense back up. Her mom and dad wouldn't have abandoned her or the school, not unless they absolutely had to and then they would've let her know where they went. Somehow. Before Fred had fully stopped, she jumped out and ran over to her jeep. Peering in the window first, she yanked open the driver side door.
On the backseat sat a bag of guns and a box of MREs. Canned goods and various supplies sat on the floor boards. A white sheet of folded paper lay on the bag. Shakily Indie picked it up and unfolded it. Her father’s scratchy handwriting filled the page.
I'm sure you doubled back probably hoping to find a safe haven. It's not here! Nowhere is safe, sweetheart. I sent the others away. We quarantined those who were sick, but supplies dwindled and things began to fail. Those creatures began to wander in, they managed to find us somehow...It was no longer safe and probably still isn't. I'm sorry to say that mom got bit saving one of the kids from a sick individual. The scratch I received from Ted led to my own illness. Don't worry,we won't become those things... I won't let that happen. I've stocked your jeep with the tools to keep you alive for a while and I've given you the knowledge to survive when that has gone. You were right,you do have the know-how to do the right thing and do what's right for you. I'm proud of you.
PS If Ryan is still with you tell him his mom left with the others. She's okay.
Tears blurred her vision causing the words to swim. Wet drops rolled over her cheeks and down her nose. Ryan wrapped his arms around her from behind, holding her against him.
Taking the note, Susie read it then said, “Indie, I'm so sorry. I know you were hoping...” She trailed off as Indie sobbed.
It wasn't fair. One of the things that had kept her going out in the woods had been the thought she'd see her folks again. Now what did she have?
Two people who were relying on her to keep it together. Drawing a deep breath, Indie wiped her face on her shirtsleeve. Pushing Ryan away, she turned to Fred who leaned against his truck patiently waiting. “Got a map?” she croaked, her voice rough with tears.
His eyebrows shot up, but he just nodded. “Eugene, get the map from the glove box.”
As Indie walked back over to the truck, Eugene got out holding a road map. Taking it from him she spread it out on the hood of the truck. Her eyes traced the roads and towns. “I think we should check Fort Drum, they might have something set up there,” she mused, tapping the map. “If this was just the US then maybe we could cross into Canada. I don't know, maybe they have something set up for survivors.”
“It's a plan. What worries me is going near places that had a large or at least decent size population.”
Indie nodded, studying the map. “We should stick to back roads and smaller towns.”
“What do we do if the border’s closed?” Susie asked.
Even though her devil's advocate shtick was getting annoying, Susie had a point. Indie chewed on the inside of her lip as she looked over the map. If they couldn't get into Canada, going north wasn't going to help.
“Head south?” Earl piped up.
“If we do, we'll have to avoid big cities.”
Fred nodded in agreement. “Anywhere there were a lot of people, there will be a lot of zombies.”
Indie cringed. Even if it was an apt description, she didn't like that word. “Even though it's still early in the year, we should think about where we want to be for winter.”
Fred laid his hand on her shoulder. “Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Missy.” He glanced skyward and Indie followed his line of sight. “We should probably think about where we will stay tonight.”
“Easy.” Ryan piped up. “Let’s go to my place. It's outside town, we can use the bunker. We have solar power and there should still be leftover supplies we can take.”
Indie shivered, just the thought of spending the night in an underground bunker made her claustrophobic. She looked up at Fred. “What do you think?”
“You're running this show, little girl. Me and the boys are just along for the ride.”
Great, just what she hadn't wanted to hear—the only adult in the group was looking to her as the leader. “Fine.” She folded the map as best she could. No one on earth could refold a map right and if they could they were gifted. Handing it back to Fred, she added, “Ryan will drive the Jeep, you follow.”
“Dad, can I ride with Indie and Ryan?” Eugene asked, slipping out of the truck.
Fred looked at Indie and she shrugged. He nodded, slowly. “Yeah, just be careful.”
Indie glanced at Susie. “Who are you riding with?”
Her eyes darted toward Eugene, then back to Indie. “You guys.”
Indie nodded as she started toward her Jeep. Yanking open the door, she pulled the bag of guns out and moved them to the back. Susie climbed into the back seat and Eugene followed. Indie walked around to the passenger seat, getting in.
Ryan stood waiting for the two in the back to get settled, When he finally got in, Indie said, “Keys under the seat.”
He reached under and pulled out her keys. Indie closed her eyes as Ryan started the Jeep and turned it around. The thought to tell someone to shut the gate flashed through her mind but what was the point. She opened the glove box and pulled out a small notebook and pen. Flipping it open to a blank page, she began jotting down what she knew about the zombies.