ReZiliant (EBOOK)

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The dead have a way of snuffing out hope.

Brock’s latest decisions have created a mess of things, and his next will most likely do the same. And the surviving townsfolk look to him for answers nonetheless.

In the bleak landscape of the Texas highlands lies a haven nobody wants. Guided by hope, he tries to look on the bright side of their increasingly bad situation. 

It has solid walls, a heavy fence, and natural protection – perfect for a telekinetic like Brock to defend.

Can a facility meant to hold people in also keep the dead out?

They are relentless and unforgiving. Always walking. Always hungry.

But people, dead or not, bring problems with them wherever they go.

Uncertainty, turmoil, and back stabbing. Just another day in the apocalypse…

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Angora State Hospital

“Too late.” Brock Skeller mumbled, unsure if he was talking to himself or the approaching storm as he drove down the highway. He had arrived within sight of the town in an MRAP. The massive military truck with six wheels could withstand a roadside bomb. A second vehicle followed containing Carmen Santora, a Spanish beauty, and Mouse, a stiff-lipped squirrely woman with short hair and a perpetual layer of dirt on her skin.
They were the last remaining survivors of the mission that claimed two members of The Extractors, and now, their lack of timeliness meant they were to blame for Deep Vale’s demise. It wasn’t the fire that killed off the town. It was the dead. A herd six hundred strong descended the nearby freeway and overran the community. Its sheet metal walls and chain-link gates had been unable to hold back the hoard.
But as images of the town’s residents flashed through his mind, Brock questioned his feelings for the town.
Did he really care? He had only met them a few weeks prior.
Instantly, his subconscious answered him. Of course he did. They needed him, and he promised to be there for them. Brock was a telekinesis user, one of the best, and a retired commander of the United Militarized Front, the UMF. Just like the missiles that destroyed the country, Brock was a weapon. A relic, but a weapon still.
As he stood atop the MRAP, Mouse motioned to him from the roof of the truck behind him. At first, he couldn’t see what she was pointing at, but as he scanned the town from left to right, something moved near the western fence. Brock squinted, his eyes catching a bit of movement, and his heart swelled. A black truck with its headlights on was driving along the fence line, towing a cattle trailer.
He didn’t hesitate, almost jumping through the turret hole on top of the vehicle and scrambling into the driver’s seat. He fired up the engine and floored the gas, willing the armored vehicle to move faster. The heavy duty engine rattled and shook, billowing black smog behind it but eventually gained speed as it went on. Not checking to see if Carmen was following him, Brock focused on the truck and keeping its headlights in view. The road would lead him directly to the front gates of the town, but about a mile ahead it split through the bleak landscape and stretched parallel to the highway.
Once out of the shadow of the overpass, Brock cut the wheel hard to the left, not waiting for the intersection and instead chose to meet the truck and its passengers. In his mind, he imagined all the town’s residents piled together into the trailer. He imagined The Doctor sitting in the front seat of the truck because he was pretentious and thought highly of himself. He imagined Austin, the kid who was also a telekinetic, riding in the bed of the truck, eager to protect his friends. But most of all, he imagined the children, a mess of them, holding on tight to the bars of the trailer, playfully thinking it was a fun time.
Then, as the wondrous, hopeful visions crossed his mind, he imagined how he would feel if any of what he hoped for didn’t happen. If people didn’t make it to safety or got caught in the fire, or got bitten. His thoughts of the worst possible things flashed faster than he could prepare himself for, and he panicked. Though the truck would not go any faster, he jammed his foot harder against the accelerator, white-knuckled the steering wheel, and sat up so his back was off the seat.
“C’mon c’mon c’mon! Go faster, you piece of shit!”
It lumbered on, its top speed somewhere between forty-five and fifty. The truck was designed for durability and torque instead of speed and maneuverability. It was a painful drive, and up ahead, the black truck approached, its headlights appearing as two blips of light on an otherwise dark landscape. The earth became uneven with small rolling hills like oversized graves, but Brock didn’t slow. He needed to know they were all right. He needed to fulfill his promise to Austin and give his mother his rations. He needed to give The Doctor the research he had gathered from the facility. He needed to tell everyone what had happened to Rickers and Carter. He needed to give them hope.
The headlights drifted closer as the driver of the truck saw the MRAPs coming to meet them. The pickup truck was slower as it was much smaller and unable to handle the uneven, compact terrain like the military vehicle could. It stopped approximately a half a mile away, and three doors opened and closed, the occupants hidden behind the blinding light of the headlights. Brock came to a halt and he dropped the MRAP in park, leaving it idling. Seconds later, the second MRAP pulled up next to him.
He closed the distance between himself and the driver, standing up on his tiptoes to try to see the occupants of the cattle trailer. An unsavory familiar voice called out over the rumble of the three vehicles.
“Well now, ain’t you a bit familiar. A bit worse for wear, but familiar. The last time I saw you, your friend tried to TK me. Ol’ Jimmy took care of that little problem though, didn’t he?” The man’s voice dripped with a thick southern drawl.
Brock’s heart stopped. These were the same men who attacked them, eventually killing Rickers, and stole their equipment as they started their mission to gather the trucks just a day prior. Now he needed to know if they had helped the residents escape Deep Vale.
“We can handle that later. Please tell me if there are others with you. Did anyone else make it out alive?”
“See, I thought you might be interested in that, since I came up on ya. I’m Russell Kirkland. Who are you? One of them trucks would look better if I was drivin’ it, don’t you think? What do you say we trade?”
Brock’s mind flashed back to the back window of the blacked out pickup truck opening up and the barrel of an automatic rifle poking out; Rickers’ saddened face as he succumbed to his wounds. Anger replaced sadness in an instant and boiled over into uncontrolled rage. He tapped into his abilities. A strong pulse emanated outward and shook the ground. Dirt and small stones shuddered and the men backpedaled towards the pickup. Brock reached out to the doors of the trucks, intent on ripping them off the hinges and beating the men to death with them.
Then a door squeaked open, followed by another familiar voice calling out.
“We don’t need to be doing that now, do we? We are all on the same side. The living side.”
Brock let his consciousness relax and his power wane as the man speaking came forward and stepped in front of the light. It was Ernest West, The Doctor, and he was beaming. The overweight, white-haired southern man had abandoned his white lab coat and tweed jacket for a pair of high-water jeans and a green T-shirt bearing the name of the town and a windmill.
“We owe our friends here for helping us. No need to fight. We are on the same team,” he continued.
“Where is everyone?” Brock spat.
“Safe. About twenty miles from here. These fine gentlemen have just carted the last load of our people off.”
“How many made it?”
“Almost everyone. A handful became trapped, including Mrs. Briggs.”
“Who else? What about the fire? The dead?” Brock’s mind went to Austin and how tore up he must be.
The Doctor grew serious. “We abandoned the town long before our saviors showed up.” He nodded to Russell and the man Brock recognized as Jimmy with the boyish features, a shaved head and oil-stained coveralls. “I suppose the fire was incidental. We left you a note at the gate with our heading.”
“They killed Rickers, stole our supplies. Almost doomed the mission.”
“From my understanding, Carter attacked them first. I’m truly sorry to hear about Rickers, of course, but what these men have done here cannot be dismissed. We need to let it be water under the bridge. This isn’t the place to settle a score. The dead are about, and it is dark.”
Brock paused, not believing what the man was saying. Water under the bridge? Carter and Rickers gave their lives for these vehicles. And it’s like he doesn’t care.
“Not here,” Brock said under his breath. “Where is this haven?”
“Thirty miles west. It’s safe. Secluded,” the southern man replied.
“Angora State Hospital.”