Javier found a vehicle in La Grange. La Grange, was a good call on his part. The vehicle was one of thiers, from Iowa. There were two destroyed trucks with markings on them from some place in California and then there was the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, resting on its side on a slight slope. The JLTV looked fine to Javier, it was in the General Purpose configuration, which made it lighter and unarmored, but also lessened the wear and tear on it.
Of course it wouldn’t be armored, we weren’t expecting a war.
Getting the vehicle back on its tires was a problem Javier could solve, but it took time. Bill would just push it over. First Javier made certain he couldn’t push it over himself. He found his strength hadn’t increased enough to move around 5,500 kilos…yet. Once he was sure it wasn’t going to roll over on him he retrieved the jacks and a line of cable that looked like it belonged on the vehicles missing winch. There was a set of keys in the ignition and the vehicle lit up when he turned them. Pocketing the key ring he looped the cable through the broken passenger side window and around the door, then he made a huge circle with the cable, putting the far end around a broken off telephone pole, the only anchor within reach. He left just enough slack in the loop to insert the jack, then crimped the cable together with the hardware from the tool kit on board. He was able to extend the jack about a third of a meter, but the JLTV didn’t tip back to it’s wheels, so he had to find some rocks to brace it up, drop the jack back, pull the cable tighter and do it again. The third time he did it the vehicle rolled over to its wheels. Javier wound up the cable and put everything back inside of his new ride. After letting everything sit for a moment he tried to start it. It whinged a bit, then the engine caught.
“Good boy!” Javier said, patting the console. Getting the factory that built the vehicles back up and running in Oshkosh had been a good move by the government. There were a hundred complete vehicles there when they took the plant along with almost a thousand ‘kits’ for up-armoring them. Producing new vehicles was pretty much out of the question; it looked like something designed by congress to appease as many states as possible, with parts sourced from seemingly every state except Hawaii and Alaska. However, substitutions could be made and the supplies on hand were sufficient to put together probably another thousand of them. Javier liked them, they were tough and while ‘comfortable’ stretched the description a bit, they were more comfortable than the old Nation Guard Humvees that were so common.
Scavenging La Grange he found a supply depot, a drop of ammunition, food and medical supplies. He ate his fill and piled the JLTV with as much of the ammunition and medical supplies as it would hold. Reserving the front passenger seat to hold enough food and plastic water bottles as he would need to make it to Des Moines. No weapons. Not even a broken rifle. Javier did find four cases of grenades and they were on the truck, two were tucked into his fatigue pockets as well. Despite their bulk he didn’t want to be completely defenseless if he were somehow separated from the vehicle. Eight more were nested among the food containers on the passenger seat. When it was all said and done, it was dark. He decided to park the vehicle inside a farmer’s huge machine shed just east of town on Wyoming Highway. The house looked decent, after all these years, but Javier was paranoid about losing his ride, so he went into the house looking for bedding, so he could sleep in the shed under the JLTV.
There were zombies in the house. The first one was in the living room, almost like it was waiting for him. It was just a hair above the shambler stage and ‘rushed’ him at a wogging pace. Javier was taken by surprise, expecting that the place had been cleared, like practically every other house near a highway.
He stood there for a moment, trying to figure out his next move, instinctively reaching for a grenade. I’m going to beat her to death with a grenade? Javier quickly retreated back to the shed, closing the door behind him. The shop had been looted, pretty much nothing was left. The toolkit in the JLTV had wrenches large enough to be weapons, but it was buried under the supplies Javier had loaded up and he didn’t relish the thought of unpacking them just to get a club. He walked around the shed trudging through the over grown scrub grasses and weeds. On one side he found lengths of rebar, rusted but still hefty. Just too long. The shortest approached a meter and a half. The metal it was made of probably would bend under pressure, so Javier took two pieces of that length and went back into the shed, he fed the metal bar into a crack in the building’s foundation about halfway and then bent it to a right angle. It bent so easily that he thought the bar was rusted through. He checked it and it was solid. Experimentally he tried bending it the rest of the way by hand, the metal groaned slightly and bent as easily as a piece of paper.
“Cool.” He was stronger. Taking the other piece, he wrapped one end around his hand, like a piece of rope, coiling it around the mid-way point of the bar until he had an unbalanced club with a hefty chunk of metal on one end. The effort to do this was next to nothing and had him grinning, “What until I show Bill!”
Now that he was armed with zombie dispatching weapons he went back to the house, entering from the kitchen door. The zombie was still the front of the house, trying to open the door where Javier had exited before. Three quick steps behind it and one overhand blow brought the zombie down, it’s head shattered like a watermelon hit by a twenty-millimeter shell.
Javier pulled the heavy metal weapon from the torso where it had lodged, shaking off bits of bone and viscera, the haft of the weapon had bent slightly from the force of the blow, so he straightened it, wiping his hands on the curtains to clean them off. He headed down the hall in the fading light, looking for a linen closet. The one in the hall held towels, no bedding, so he continued to the master. The four-poster bed there was dust covered and unmade, the room was devoid of zombies. Upstairs he heard a thump as something hit the floor. Javier, an old hand at looting quickly, tossed the nightstand and pulled the covers from the bed, leaving the bottom sheet, but taking two of the three pillows. He wadded everything up on the floor and checked under the mattress. Nothing. The nightstand hadn’t held any weapons either and that was suspicious here in a small rural town where guns were as plentiful as cow-pies. The headboard was decorative and wide, holding a few books and tchotchkes. It looked suspiciously large to Javier’s experienced eyes and he tried to tip it forward, it didn’t move. Glancing at the night stands he chose the side that looked like the man slept (an old copy of ‘Hunting’ magazine made that side look promising, whereas the other nightstand had a copy of cross-stitch quarterly and some embroidery on it.
On what looked like the ‘man’ side he tried to life the headboard and it came up without effort, not attached to the bed after all. A wooden slate swung down into place holding the headboard up half a meter, while the tchotchkes all slid down and off the other side. Letting go, the headboard remained tilted, resting on the slate and allowing Javier to reach into the space inside.
His hands felt a pistol grip and then the butt of a long gun. There were also some boxes of ammunition, he lifted everything out and put it on the bed. A shotgun, looked like a 12 gauge and a 1911 style revolver, the boxes of ammo confirmed the shotgun’s size, but the pistol rounds were in 9mm, not .45 like he had expected. With a shrug, he tossed the weapons and bullets onto the center of the bedding and dragged the whole mess out the back door to the porch. He went back inside and cleared all of the rooms on the main floor. Taking a flashlight from the kitchen that miraculously still had a little juice after over eight years of hanging on the wall, he went into the basement, which was mostly unfinished and held the laundry area as well as a crude bathroom and shower. Finally, he headed upstairs where he put down two zombies, a small boy and young man. He cleaned up with towels from the linen closet and set the flashlight on the counter by the sink. From the cupboard he took out a large glass and a large bowl, from the silverware drawer he took a butter knife, fork and spoon, adding a steak knife as an afterthought. He wrapped his kitchen supplies in a clean hand towel and then took everything out to the shed.
He made his bed under the JLTV, just folding the blankets in half, so he could sleep on top of one side with the rest draped over him. He took the flashlight from the car and did his best to field strip the unfamiliar guns. The pistol was a 9mm, which was good, it would have been just his luck to find the wrong caliber of ammunition and have to rely solely on the shotgun.
Not that I mind too much. Any gun is better than no gun at all. I have the feeling I’ll be going up against men with machine guns though, not pump shotguns.
The pistol would fit in the pants pocket of his fatigues, the shotgun fit in the gun rack in the truck. He loaded both weapons, including pumping one round into the chamber of the pistol, giving him 9 shots with it and three with the shotgun. The excess ammunition went on the passenger side floor, though he did put three shells into his jacket and maybe half the 9mm into the same pocket.
He was fed, rested, armed and had a vehicle; overall it was a good day. Tomorrow he would drive back to Iowa and heaven help anyone who got in his way.