The Homecoming: Countdown to Armageddon: Book 5 (2 page)

BOOK: The Homecoming: Countdown to Armageddon: Book 5
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     Zachary summed it up best by observing, “No wonder farmers know so many cuss words.”

     There were other difficulties as well. The secrets that Sara had been keeping finally came out. And she had a new one too. But this one wouldn’t remain secret for long, as her midsection began to expand and she outgrew her clothes item by item.

     She was terrified that the group would send her away, to have the baby on her own in a cold and cruel world. But they surprised her. They treated her better than her own parents ever had. And they made it clear to her that she and the baby were part of their family now. And that she would never be cast out. That she had just as much right to be there as anyone.

     Scott developed a close friendship with a San Antonio police officer named John Castro. A war hero, John fought hard to join the SAPD despite leaving half a leg in the burning sands of Fallujah. And he was fighting equally hard to save the city he loved.

     Scott and John talked frequently by ham radio. Scott learned that San Antonio was decimated. Less than ten percent of the city would survive the waves of starvation and suicides. Bodies were stacked in the streets and burned until they were merely piles of ashes and bones.

     But that wasn’t all. The decomposing bodies had created a pneumonia-like plague that was sweeping through the cities. It was treatable only with massive doses of penicillin, and was ravaging what was left of the population.

     John was sure to be infected eventually. He was out among the masses every day, trying to restore order and to bring his city back from the brink. But he was desperate to get his wife and two girls away from the city.

     Scott’s group was aware that the citizens of San Antonio were in dire straights. And they wanted to help. So they planted an extra out-of-cycle wheat crop, and harvested it seventy seven days later.

     Tom Haskins went to work on a Walmart truck abandoned by the side of the road since the blackout. He was able to get it running, and seventy two boxes of unprocessed wheat were added to the load of food.

     Tom and Scott took a harrowing trip back to the city and dropped the load. In exchange for the food, they brought back something even better: John’s wife and daughters.

     Then John came down with the plague. He went into a coma because he was allergic to penicillin and couldn’t be treated using the normal protocol. San Antonio was out of an alternative antibiotic. But Tom was able to find some in nearby Junction.

     The story ended when Scott made a second run to San Antonio, to drop off the medication that would save his friend’s life.

          
 
A Recap of Book 3 of the series,

RISE FROM THE ASHES

THE REBIRTH OF SAN ANTONIO

 

     Unfortunately, Scott didn’t make it back safely. In fact, he didn’t make it back at all. He was ambushed by a gang of thugs who shot him and left him to die.

     He was able to crawl back to his house, but John’s friend Robbie was long gone.

     Unable to go any further, suffering from loss of blood and dehydration, he passed out.

     He didn’t know that his loved ones back at the compound were desperately worried about him. In a panic, they called Robbie and asked him to search for Scott. He found Scott, near death, and rushed him to a hospital.

     Scott recovered fully, but in the process was exposed to the deadly plague sweeping through the city. Although he showed no symptoms, he was told he could be a carrier. And that old people and infants were especially susceptible to the infectious disease.

     He opted to stay away from the compound for the few months to a year it would take for the plague to dissipate, instead of endangering his newborn grandson. In doing so, he relied on the men and women he left behind to make do without him.

     And he volunteered to help his new friends in the San Antonio Police Department try to regain order in the city.

     The SAPD was decimated and down to just a few officers. They were resorting to desperate measures, and one of them was recruiting good men regardless of their backgrounds. There was no more police academy. Scott had to learn on the fly, by watching his partners and mimicking their tactics.

     Luckily, by this time most of what the police did had nothing to do with enforcing the laws. Most of their duties involved helping the few survivors in a variety of ways.

     Scott wore the uniform with pride. He knew it was only temporary, and he’d never be a “real” cop. But he was making a difference, and it gave him a sense of accomplishment while he waited for the “all clear” that would allow him to return home again.

 

 

 

A brief recap of Book 4 of the series,

 

AN UNDECLARED WAR

 

     Scott, still in San Antonio, was talking to his family via ham radio when he heard shots ring out. “We’re under attack!” Joyce shouted.

     Ninety miles to the south, Scott and his friends were too far away to be of immediate help. But like the cavalry of old, they were on their way and flying fast.

     They arrived at the compound in the waning minutes of the battle, and were able to help finish off the attackers. Scott and John brought Robbie and Randy, two fellow officers and friends, along for the fight.

     But the damage had been done. Scott’s girlfriend Joyce was killed instantly when she was struck in the forehead as the battle raged.

     The group cried as one. It was a dreadful loss.

     Scott and the others had to watch Joyce’s funeral from afar. They were still carriers of the deadly plague and therefore couldn’t come into close contact with any of their loved ones. It made the pain even harder for Scott to bear.

     As it turned out, the gang which attacked the compound was infamous around the Kerrville area for their brutality. After Tom and Scott put the gang’s bodies on display as a warning for others to steer clear, word got around Junction. City leaders decided the grizzled old Tom Haskins might just be the man tough enough to clear the other gangs out of Junction and Kerrville and clean up the towns.

     Tom was offered the job of sheriff, and reluctantly accepted.

     Back in San Antonio, Scott was deemed experienced enough to be given a new partner of his own. Named Rhett Butler, the rookie quipped, “Hey, what can I say? My mom was a big
Gone with the Wind
fan.”

     Scott laughed out loud in disbelief when he learned that Rhett had managed to find and marry a girl named Scarlett.

     Rhett and Scarlett quickly became two of Scott’s closest friends.

     They were with him when he stepped on a piece of wood with a protruding nail.

     “Oh, it’s nothing,” he said, until his foot became infected and he had to seek medical care.

     As it happened, Scott was treated by Becky, the same nurse who’d brought him back from the brink after his gunshot wound some months before.

     Becky was an angel of mercy. Not only did she clear up the infection, she also helped him grieve, and taught him to deal with Joyce’s death.

     In the process, Becky’s love for Scott, there since their first encounter but never acted on, grew stronger.

     The story ended as the plague started to dissipate. Scott was called aside by the police chief and given the first good news he’d heard in awhile.

     “You’ve become a fine officer, Scott, and you should be proud of the work you’ve done for the city of San Antonio. I wish I could keep you around longer. But I know you’ve got loved ones up north of here who need you worse than we do.

     “We expect the FEMA people to issue an all clear within a few weeks. You need to start making plans to go back to Junction and rejoin your family.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, Book 5 of the series,

 

THE HOMECOMING

 

-1-

 

     Scott hadn’t been home in a very long time. For the better part of a year he’d spoken to his family via ham radio. He’d missed birthdays and the birth of his very first grandchild. Christmas, once joyful and full of merriment, had been a miserable and lonely day.

     He had been able to attend the funeral of his beloved Joyce, but even then had to stay twenty feet away from his loved ones, for fear he’d infect them with the deadly virus he’d been exposed to and might be carrying.

     Now the virus was no longer a major threat. The plague that had packed the second of a one-two punch combination which left the city of San Antonio destroyed had pretty much run its course. Within a month or so the CDC was expected to issue an all clear.

     In four short weeks, give or take a few days, Scott would be issued his walking papers.

     Free to leave San Antonio and return to his family in their compound just outside of Junction.

     Free to finally hug his sons again, and to hold his grandson for the first time.

     Free to hang up his police uniform for one last time and go back to his old life.

     The life he’d left behind when he’d gone to San Antonio on a mercy mission and ended up being shot.

     The life he’d longed for for so very long.

     So Scott should have been the happiest man in Texas.

     Why then, did he feel so miserable?

     Scott sat, head in hands, pondering his future.

     And he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t ecstatic about the prospect of going home again.

     And he had no answer.

     So he did what he’d been doing for months, and sought solace and guidance from a woman he’d come to lean heavily on.

     It was the nurse who’d first saved his life, and then became a trusted friend and confidant.

     “I don’t understand it,” he told Becky. “I should be jumping for joy. I should be counting the days on a calendar, and packing up so early that I have to live out of suitcases for my last few weeks. So why am I so miserable about the whole idea of going back to my loved ones?”

     Becky sat silent for a moment, then chose her words carefully.

     “Perhaps it’s because your loved ones aren’t all up there in Junction anymore.”

     Scott looked blankly at her.

     “Meaning what?”

     “Meaning you’ve got a second family now, and a second life. You may not have intended it that way, but you’ve gotten so close to your friends in the police department that they’re more than just friends now. They call it a brotherhood for a reason, you know. It’s one of those professions that draws you much closer than just a regular job. Cops share certain experiences together. Things that normal people can’t relate to. And it makes them something more than just co-workers. Something more than just friends. They become closer than brothers.

     “Policemen are not unlike soldiers who go to war together. After awhile they have a bond that’ll never be broken, not in any of their lifetimes.

     “I think you don’t want to leave that behind. I think it means more to you than you’ll ever admit to yourself. Maybe you don’t even realize it yourself. But you’re closer to those guys than you ever expected to be. And you don’t want to abandon them.”

     Scott thought about her words. They did seem to make sense.

     “Of course,” she went on, “I might just be full of it. I’m not a psychiatrist, after all. Maybe you’re hesitant about leaving because you’ve finally noticed how devastatingly beautiful I am and have fallen madly and deeply in love with me. Maybe that’s why you don’t want to leave.”

     He looked at her. She smiled.

     She wondered if she’d gone too far. For months she’d been hoping that Scott would fall for her. Would share the same feelings she had for him. She wanted it so much she prayed about it at night. Thought about it all day. Wanted it more than anything.

     But she’d never mentioned it before. She’d kept her feelings hidden because he was still grieving over Joyce’s death. And she didn’t want him to mistake hating to be alone for love.

     So she’d been a confidant. A best friend to him. She comforted him, and walked him step by step through the grieving process.

     She’d heard so much about Joyce, it was as though they were best friends, although Becky had never met her.

BOOK: The Homecoming: Countdown to Armageddon: Book 5
7.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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