Read Camp Zero (Book 2): State of Shock Online

Authors: Jack Hunt

Tags: #Post-Apocalyptic | EMP

Camp Zero (Book 2): State of Shock

STATE OF SHOCK
A Post-Apocalyptic Survival Thriller
Jack Hunt
Direct Response Publishing

C
opyright
© 2016 by Jack Hunt

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

STATE OF SHOCK
is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

F
or my Family

Synopsis

"
F
ans of Alas Babylon
and One Second After will enjoy this terrifyingly real, on the edge-of-your-seat, tale of survival and human courage."

Six months after a deadly attack on the United States kills millions, obliterates the electrical grid and thrusts the nation into darkness, Lt. Scot Murphy and the others continue to face obstacles.

When a military group hell-bent on controlling survivor’s forces them out of their underground bunker in Northern Idaho and threatens their freedom, they must fight to protect all that remains.

STATE OF SHOCK is the second post-apocalyptic survival thriller book in the Camp Zero series.

I
ndividuals play the game
, but teams beat the odds.

A SEAL saying

Also by Jack Hunt

C
lick
here to receive special offers, bonus content, and news about new Jack Hunt’s books. Sign up for the newsletter.

Renegades series

The Renegades

The Renegades Book 2: Aftermath

The Renegades Book 3: Fortress

The Renegades Book 4: Colony

The Renegades Book 5: United

Mavericks series

Mavericks: Hunters Moon

Time Agents series

Killing Time

Camp Zero series

State of Panic

State of Shock

Chapter 1


S
tart the vehicle
!” I yelled over the two-way radio as I burst into the woodland. Behind, were six guys in hot pursuit. They were armed, pissed off and prepared to kill for what I had stolen. Actually, it wasn’t theirs to begin with but that didn’t seem to matter.

Over the past four months we had blown our way through all the food in Dan Adams’s underground bunker. Since then we had set traps to catch squirrel, rabbit, anything that had four legs and was edible.

And though we weren’t exactly hunters, what Dan had taught us worked. It was good to finally eat something that wasn’t overloaded with sodium. And perhaps we might have been able to sustain ourselves through the unforeseeable future if it wasn’t for the fact that someone had been stealing what we had caught.

Initially we thought the traps hadn’t snagged anything or that the furry critters had managed to escape but that wasn’t the case. A group holed up at a campsite five miles away had been swooping in and removing it. After finding tracks in the mud after a night of heavy rainfall, a couple of us decided to create a tree stand, camouflage it and find out who was taking it.

Sure enough, sometime in the early hours of the morning a vehicle pulled up, two hefty guys got out and retrieved supper right from underneath our noses. To top it off, it seemed that we weren’t the only ones they were doing it to. They had a whole barn full of dead animals that they had gathered from others.

“Tell me again why I agreed to this?” Corey hollered before turning and firing a round.

“Trust me, it will work.”

I had no idea if it would work but it was try or die, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to starve to death because a group of hunters had decided to break the hunter’s code of conduct.

My thighs screamed in protest as we sprinted through the forest.

“Ally, is Luke back yet?

“No. They are on top of the barn now.”

“You better have that truck ready.”

“Don’t bring them back this way. Remember what my father said.”

Another bullet snapped past our heads.

“Hey, I like your father and all but he’s not the one out here running from…WOOOH!”

I stopped just short of a huge drop-off.

We’d been running through the Kootenai National Forest when I found myself at the edge of a precipice. Far below was a wild rushing river. The dark waters smashed against the rocks with the fury of a lion pouncing on its prey. Loose rock crumbled over the edge and disappeared into the rising mist. I’d been a couple of feet ahead of Corey as he had fallen back. Instinctively I stuck out my arm to stop Corey as he was still going full tilt, firing his gun and not watching where the hell he was going.

“Stop!” I shouted to Corey as he darted out of the overgrown woodland into the clearing.

It was too late.

He was moving so fast that my arm couldn’t slow the forward momentum. He latched on to me and both of us plowed right over the edge to the river below.

As we hit the water it wasn’t soft. It slapped against our skin like a concrete block almost knocking me unconscious. As I was swallowed below the murky surface, the cold attacked my senses and stole my breath. When I rose to the surface, I barely caught sight of Corey before being dragged under by the raging current. When I broke the surface for a second time we were being shot at from above. Fortunately, the tug of the river was so strong and fast it hauled us away, turning and spitting us like loose rocks. A quick gasp of air and I was in a fight for my life. Every now and then I would see Corey out the side of my eye getting exactly the same ass whipping. One second we were up, the next down. That continued for several minutes as we went over mini waterfalls. Based on the speed of the current, I figured this wasn’t going to end well. That’s when I saw a huge amount of mist in the air. That meant only one thing. We were heading for a massive waterfall.

As hard as I tried to swim to the safety of shore, it was impossible. We were in the clutches of Mother Nature and this was one pissed-off bitch. She refused to release her grasp.

As I was dragged over the edge, and forced down into a torrent of water, darkness enveloped me. I truly believed we were going to die. There is no way to prepare for the unknown, and so many thoughts went through my mind in those final seconds before I went over. None of which lasted longer than a second or two. I don’t know how long I was under the water but I do remember my mind replaying all the events that had led up to where we were.

It had been six months since the blackout. Like many others we were driven out of our comfortable lives into survival mode.

In many ways it seemed fitting to spend my last few seconds on earth being tossed around, as that had been my life. From an early age until the present day I had been bounced around from foster home to foster home. I hadn’t ever known peace the way I had come to know it in the past six months. It had taken a nuclear attack on the United States to shake me out of my funk and help me to see what was important.

A violent series of nuclear explosions had reset the United States, obliterated what stability existed and tossed us back into living out a life that relied on hunting, killing and hiding to survive.

Months of discomfort.

Days of tension.

Seconds of pain.

And here’s where it would all end.

Chapter 2

A
jolt
of cold shot through me as water slapped against my cheek. I was lying face down on the edge of the shore. Most of my body was still submerged below water. My clothes pulled at my skin. I blinked hard as the world came back into view. A sudden urge to cough and water gushed from my mouth as I gasped for air. Off to my right I saw Corey lying motionless. I called out to him but he didn’t move. It took everything I had to crawl on to dry land. My fingers dug into the waterlogged earth. The pungent smell of dead fish made me gag. Dazed, slightly confused and overwhelmed by what had just happened, my mind tried to piece together the fragments as I staggered over to Corey.

“Corey,” I said crouching down beside him. There was no answer. I took a firm grip on his jacket and began dragging him out of the water. Turning him over, I bent down and listened for breathing. Nothing. I began performing chest compressions using the little I could remember from seeing a kid resuscitated at the local pool. The whole thing had shaken me up. Two years ago, a guy had jumped off the high board and landed on a swimmer, knocking him to the floor of the pool. Everyone was evacuated while they tried to resuscitate the kid. Thankfully he lived. All I remember was seeing them pumping on his chest and checking if he was breathing.

“Come on.”

I did twenty, maybe thirty compressions and then checked the airway. On the second time around water trickled out the corner of his mouth and then he spluttered. I rolled him onto his right side and then collapsed. I was exhausted.

“Where are we?” he muttered.

“Better question, where is the radio?” I scanned the area. “Damn.”

We could have only come a mile downstream. I could see the waterfall from where we were. All around us was woodland and thick brush. We sat there catching our breath before we summoned the strength to head in the direction of the truck.

“You don’t think they would have come looking for us?”

“I hope not.” The last thing I wanted was for Kiera and Ally to end up in the hands of those assholes.

“You still carrying?”

Corey pulled out a Glock, turned it upside down and water dribbled out.

“That’s one hell of a water pistol.”

When we finally made it back to where the truck was, Ally looked beyond worried. She had her gun raised as we elbowed our way out of the thick branches into the clearing. We had parked several miles from the campsite to avoid detection. Murphy had been adamant that he didn’t want to lose the truck.

“What the hell happened to you?”

“They were offering skinny-dipping lessons, we decided to take them up on it,” I muttered still coughing from water that was trapped in my chest.

“We thought they had nabbed you.”

“Where are the others?” Corey asked looking around.

“That’s what we were trying to tell you. The rope that Billy was using to lower Luke snapped. He’s stuck inside the barn.”

I pointed away. “Listen, take the truck and head back to the bunker. We will catch up.”

“No, you aren’t going back in. You nearly got killed.”

“She has a point,” Corey said pulling at his wet clothes and looking like a drowned rat.

Kiera sat in the vehicle not saying a word. Apparently, based on what Kate and the others had said, she was a very talkative girl before the incident. Now she looked on and barely spoke except in nods or shrugs.

“Ally, just go back and get your father,” Corey said.

“There’s not enough time. They could be dead by the time we get back,” I added. I ran a hand over my head. “Shit!”

“Let’s just go.”

“No. I’m not leaving them. Corey and I will head back in.”

“No offense, dude, but I’m in no state to face those guys again. That fall knocked the wind out of me, I might have even broken a rib.”

Corey perched on the back of the truck with a blanket pulled up around his chin. Both of us were shivering even though the temperatures were hovering in the high eighties. It wouldn’t take long to dry off but time in the water had done a severe number on us. Our skin was wrinkled and the cold had entered our bones.

“I’ll go with you.”

“Ally.”

“I’m more than capable of defending myself, Sam.” She reached into the truck and pulled out a small bag that contained stun grenades. One thing I had learned over the few months we had all been together was not to argue with her. She was like her old man, Murphy. Strong-willed and determined.

“Okay, but Murphy is going to have my head for this.”

“Leave him to me.”

“So you want us to stay or go?” Corey asked looking as though he was about to doze off. I took the radio from Ally and told him to wait but that he was to leave immediately at the first sign of trouble.

With that said we turned and broke into a fast jog.

“Billy, come in.”

There was no answer.

“Perhaps he’s turned it off to avoid detection.”

Jogging under a burning sun in wet clothes was painful. As it dried the clothing stuck to my skin and chafed my legs. I could literally feel blisters forming.

“How is she?” I asked as we ran together.

“Besides me or her mother, she says very little to anyone. It’s going to take quite a while. Then again everyone is different. Some rape victims refuse to have their life taken from them by an act of violence.”

“That depends if it was one act. Has she said?”

“No, I haven’t even asked her. She’ll talk when she’s ready.”

When we arrived at the perimeter of the campsite, we could see the six hunters circled around a fire drinking beer. Four had rifles over their shoulders. In front of them was a roaring fire and a spit which they used to roast a carcass. Occasionally one of them would tear off a piece of meat, bite a chunk and then spit into the fire.

“You see Billy?”

I shook my head and then motioned for us to circle around to the barn. The six guys had set up camp on a small property that was hedged in by large boulders, forest and a river. After observing and tracking them, we had seen them store all the meat in a small barn that had one hell of a lock on the front. Luke had suggested taking out a piece of the roof and having Billy lower him down. He could fill up a couple of cotton bags with as much meat as he could carry and then Billy would pull him back up.

It hadn’t worked. The flimsy rope snapped.

As we rounded the far side of the camp, from our vantage point we could see Billy hunched down at the rear corner of the barn. He peered around looking nervous. A stack of wood and a collection of old tires were piled up a few feet from him. I rushed forward while keeping low. There was a look of surprise, perhaps relief when he saw me.

“Thank god you’re here. He’s stuck inside, maybe if you lower me down I might be able to reach him but I think you are going to have to speak to him fast as he has a different plan.”

I couldn’t even begin to imagine what Luke’s bright idea was but I was pretty sure it was to do with killing someone. The guy had gained a taste for blood back in Mount Pleasant. Not much had changed since. While we had kept our distance from other towns, he had been the first to suggest that we go out and scavenge. In the first four months that was something we hadn’t done, not because we couldn’t or wouldn’t, we just had no reason. The bunker was loaded with supplies and up until last month, the need to start hunting hadn’t even been on our radar.

In the first four months we remained underground. Dan was certain that if any fallout from Boise had made its way north, the particles would have decayed by now but he didn’t want to risk it. He and Murphy had been the first ones outside to check. The following two months after that we spent less time inside the galvanized corrugated pipe, twenty-five feet underground, as all of us were going a little stir crazy. It wasn’t like it was terrible. Dan had it kitted out with all the latest comforts that made it seem like we were inside a hotel. It used gravity-fed water from a four hundred gallon holding tank. There were beds, an air filtration system and a generator, which powered batteries. On the outside, hidden out of view of prying eyes, were solar panels, and even two wind turbines nearby were used to produce electricity. If we gathered enough food, we could have stayed under there for a year or two but it didn’t take us long to work our way through supplies.

I turned to say something to Ally and noticed she was gone.

“Ally?” I spoke in a hushed tone out of fear of being heard.

“She’s with you?” Billy asked looking around.

“Was with me.”

My eyes scanned the forest; my heart began pounding in my chest at the thought of her having been snatched. I hugged the side of the barn and took a look around the side in the direction of the men. She wasn’t there.
Where are you?

“Ally?”

“Frost?”

I heard Luke’s voice from inside. I pressed my face up to the barn and spoke through the crack.

“Yep.”

“Get the hell out of here.”

“We’re not leaving without you.”

“I’ll handle myself.”

“Like hell you will.”

Just as I was saying that, I noticed out the corner of my eye movement. I looked off to the right and saw Ally. She was behind one of the trucks and motioning with her arms. If she was trying to say something I couldn’t understand. I beckoned for her to come over but she just ignored me. Both of us watched wide-eyed as she tore her shirt so her bra was exposed, then jammed her gun into the back of her jeans and covered it up. She made one final gesture to us and then she stepped out but began running towards the hunters, screaming.

“What the heck?” Billy muttered.

“Quick, let’s get up there and get him out.”

“Uh, you don’t think I’ve been trying?” Billy held up what little rope he had in his hand. The frayed ends dangled and blew in the breeze.

We double-timed it up the tires and did our best to not fall off the top of the fifteen-foot barn. There was a small hole near the edge where they had pulled off the shingles and burrowed down through decayed wood. Every step on top of that barn made it feel like the whole thing was about to cave. It was hard to concentrate on getting Luke out when I knew that Ally had just run into a pack of wolves and was showing her cleavage.

I peered off the top of the roof and saw her talking with the men.

“Okay, I’m going to lower you down and you’ll feed the tail end of that rope to Luke, then I’ll pull up.”

“Screw that. Why do I have to hang in the air upside down?” Billy protested.

I grabbed one of his scrawny arms. “You think I’m going to trust you holding on to me?”

“I’m stronger than I look.”

“Right, well, for now I think I will take my chances lowering you down.”

Billy refused for another minute before giving up and leaning over the edge. Down below in the darkness, Luke looked up, squinting and coughing every few seconds as dust fell.

Taking a firm hold of Billy’s pant legs I began lowering him.

“Don’t you dare let me go.”

“Shut up and just get down there.”

It had to have been the most absurd attempt in all of history to get food. I would have rather eaten insects than endured what we had been through over the past two hours.

“Nearly there, just a little lower,” Luke said.

As I was holding on to the tail end of his jeans, his pants started coming loose. I had visions of him slipping through and collapsing on top of Luke in a naked heap. Instead, what happened next was even more startling.

The barn doors were unlocked. Here we were in the middle of trying to help Luke out and we were about to get busted. When it cracked open, and light flooded in, I think we were all surprised to see Ally holding a gun to the back of one of the hunter’s head. I had no idea what she had done but the other five were disarmed and moving backwards into the barn.

“I will shoot him and unload a round in each of you. Now get in there.”

As they caught sight of us, the look on their faces was priceless. Luke had a hold of the end of the rope, Billy was reaching down and I was barely clinging to Billy. My hands were slipping from the weight of both of them. When I saw Ally, I let go and Billy landed on Luke in a crumpled mess.

“Amateurs,” Ally said before casting a glance at me.

Once I had managed to get down from the barn and make my way around to the front, she had all six of them inside. Luke and Billy had taken out more meat than we originally came to collect.

“Nice doing business with you.”

“You won’t get away with this.”

Luke snorted. “We just did.”

With that he slammed the door on the barn and put the lock in place. I blew out my cheeks.

“You think next time you want to go all Dirty Harry on them, that you can give us the heads-up? I’m starting to see why you are Murphy’s daughter.”

I don’t know who was more stunned, Luke or myself? We stared at Ally with a newfound respect and awe. All the way back to the truck we tried to get her to explain how she managed to pull it off but she refused to tell us. She said it was something that her father had taught her and if she told us, she would have to kill us. She smirked and jogged on.

“By the way, Frost, you know this doesn’t change anything between us. Theoretically you didn’t save me. Ally did.”

“Ah, but I came back to get you. I could have left you there.”

“Yeah, but I would have got out of it.”

“Would you both stop the pissing match,” Billy said. “Both of you got off lightly. I’m the one who had to suffer the embarrassment of hanging upside down from the rafters with my ass hanging out.”

Luke and Billy piled into the back of the truck and Ally hopped up front riding shotgun as I peeled out of there. We left the forest and made our way out on a dirt trail. Stones spat against the sides as I navigated through a rough patch of terrain. Within a few minutes we were back on the main road.

The bunker was four miles away. The truck rumbled along and every now and again I would glance over at Ally. Kiera had her head leaned against her shoulder. It took a lot of balls to do what she did. Regardless of what her old man had taught her, the chances of it having gone south were high. Murphy had brought up a daughter who wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty.

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