[Yay! Oasis turns 50 (Chapters) today! You all have made this a lot of fun for me, so thank you. We’re getting closer to the end here, so if you haven’t read Oasis before, please start at the beginning.]
Time To Go
Dale raised a hand. “Sam, aren’t you forgetting something?”
Samson looked back over his shoulder. “What?”
“What are we going to do about the crowd of infected that’s sure to be around the hospital?”
Samson looked and then pointed toward Kevin and me. “Those two are pretty resourceful. They’ll run ahead and figure it out. Now, let’s go.”
My eyes widened.
I’m pretty sure Kevin stopped breathing.
Samson, Dale, and Linda swept out of the room.
Kevin and I looked at each other.
Kevin shook his head. “The hospital is near the middle of the city, near the fountain. Throwing a garbage can will get a couple of them, but if there’s many more… I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more. A whole lot more.”
I shrugged. “I guess we’ll figure it out when we get there.”
“I hope so.”
I put on the bravest face I could manage.
Kevin frowned and moped from the room.
I figured it would take a minute for everyone to get organized, so I sat back down and tried to think.
My mind wandered to the note that had been in my backpack. I reached in my pocket, pulled it out and unfolded it.
The heavy object it had been wrapped around was a key.
The note itself was written in purple ink, and it was easy to see whoever had written it was shaking.
The note read:
I am so sorry. Carl says if we don’t do things this way tonight, then he’ll make things worse for you, and for my dad and me. He said he’d make it hurt. I wish there was another way.
Thank you for saving my life. I pray you can get through this. If anyone can, I think it’s you.
Carl doesn’t know I have Uncle Bill’s keys. This is the master key we used to get into the car dealership. I don’t know how many of my family’s stores it opens, but I’ll bet it’s most of them.
Corbin, I don’t know you hardly at all, but you’ve been the most heroic, most selfless man I have seen since this all began.
I know this sounds corny, but I love you. Please be careful out there.
I took a deep breath and let a smile cross my lips.
Beth had given me a secret weapon.
I almost felt guilty for being so mad at her when I was kicked out.
I kissed the key and jammed it with the note back in my pocket.
There’s work to do.
The majority of our group was in the big conference room across the hall.
A few guys were walking out single file carrying chairs toward the north stairwell.
The red headed guy I had spoken to downstairs emerged from the stairway door. He was carrying one of the shotguns, and he looked horrible.
He gave me a nod as he approached. “We should have thought of this earlier. The furniture we’re tossing down is tripping them up and slowing them down more than the shotguns were. Good thing, too. We burnt through a lot of ammo pretty quickly.”
Inside the conference room, Samson had just finished dividing up the crowd into three groups of about twenty.
The red head and I entered the room, and Samson immediately assigned him to one of the groups.
Then Samson explained the plan.
The few guns we had among us were divvied up. Those who had experience with guns were to protect their group.
Kevin and I were to go ahead and cause whatever distraction we could to help get a path to the hospital.
Once outside, the groups were to spread out about a block or so apart. If something went wrong, each group could have options for escape.
Dale, Samson, and the blond guy I ran into in the armory downstairs were to lead the three groups.
Other than that, everyone was supposed to carry as many supplies as they could manage.
No one spoke. There was nothing to say.
A bizarre virus had taken over the minds, had taken the very life of thousands of friends, neighbors, and coworkers throughout the city. Now only inhuman shells of flesh, they would be in the streets hunting us.
There would be no mercy, no second chances, and no turning back.
I knew deep down there was no happy ending.
Samson stood on the raised platform for the last time. “I’m sorry things have worked out this way. We should have been able to safely stay here, but some very bad decisions were made.”
He took a deep breath and stood tall. “All is not lost, though. We can still get through this. You can all survive today, and survive tomorrow, too. Stay with your group, and most of all, obey your group leader. Now is not the time for argument and dissent…”
Samson shot a glance at one of the lawyers. “…but for survival. Mark my words, you are all survivors. Let this be your finest hour.”
The words of his little rally were not the most inspiring even spoken, but he wasn’t just speaking with words.
More than his words, his natural calm, his unfailing strength, and his fierce courage radiated throughout every soul in the room.
A ray of hope shone in my heart where there had been none.
He stepped from the platform. “Let’s move.”
Kevin and I led the group and we filed out the door and descended the south staircase.
The entire crowd moved without speaking.
We picked up the pace as we passed the the second floor. Ammunition was still piled in the corner.
I hoped someone would pick it up.
Through the door, we could hear crashing and pounding as the deads conducted their clumsy search for the living.
We continued until we reached the door to the underground parking.
I motioned for the crowd to stop. “Kevin and I will make sure it’s still OK in there.”
For just a moment, I imagined the whole garage to be already full of deads, just standing there, silently waiting for us to enter. I pushed the thought from my head, opened the door, and entered.
Kevin was right behind me.
It was much colder in the garage. And silent, except for the sound of the storm blowing in.
I couldn’t see any deads. Just cars parked here and there.
Kevin ran ahead to check the grate at the entrance.
He doubled back, saying it was still clear.
We went back to get everybody else.
It took longer that I’d have thought for everyone to file in. Nobody seemed like they were in much of a hurry to get anywhere.
I couldn’t say that I blamed them.
The rolling of distant thunder echoed in the garage, reminding us why we had to leave now.
Samson appeared last through the door. He had a green duffel bag slung across his back and he carried his big hunting rifle in his right hand.
He motioned Kevin and me to a steel door. “Let me talk to you two for one second before you go.”
And again, feel free to tell all of your friends and family about Oasis.