White Horse - Chapter 23
“Quiet,” Sarah commanded with a loud whisper. She leaned toward the closed meeting room door, angling an ear so that she could hear any deadened sound.
No one moved. Muffled metallic clanks from someone ascending the spiral staircase penetrated through the door. Then the sound of Willis calling for Sarah broke the tension in the room.
“It’s the boys,” Jack said, unlocking the door.
“Wait, what are you doing? Those infected people could still be out there,” Clare said as she pushed between Sarah and Jack, pressing her body against the door so that Jack could not open it.
“Those things must’ve left because nothing is stopping the boys from moving around out there,” Jack said, his hand still gripping the doorknob.
Clare stared at Jack for only a moment before nodding in agreement. She backed away as Jack slowly opened the door and looked around the observatory deck. “Boys, in here.”
Willis and Georgie ran to the room as Jack opened the door wide and walked out, his eyes darted around the dome looking for signs of movement, zombies, or spider drones.
“Where’s Mom?” Willis asked, stopping as people began to pour out of the room.
“I’m right here,” Sarah said as she walked up to Willis and Georgie, giving them a hug.
“Where’d all the zombies and drones go?” Max asked, walking to the computer he had been working at before all the commotion started.
“You won’t believe what we just went through,” Georgie said, so excited he was almost jumping. “Those spiders protected us from the zombies.”
“What?” Professor Dillon questioned with a frown. “The spiders protected you? How?”
Willis began, “We were hiding in the breakroom, after trying to get cigarettes, when we saw the spiders trying to get in the front door. We slid the cigarette machine in front of the door and hid, but the zombies were able to break in and attack us. We escaped through the window and when we got outside, we were just about to be swarmed by more zombies when the spiders came down from the sky and formed a barrier around us so that the zombies couldn’t get to us.”
“And then the zombies ran away,” Georgie eagerly added to the story.
“This whole thing makes no sense,” Sarah said. “I thought the aliens had released the spores and created the zombies and spider drones.”
“Well let’s think about it,” the professor said, sitting next to Max. The chair squeaked as he turned to face the group. “We know there is an alien craft and we know they likely released spores into our atmosphere, infecting most people. We know the blue light from their ships would draw the infected people toward it. They were then taken up into the ship and then sent back down, having turned into things similar to zombies.” The professor crossed his arms. “Clare wasn’t far off when she said there could be both bad aliens and good aliens. Based on how the spider drones have behaved, I’d say they were from the good aliens, but I don’t know where their spacecraft is.”
“Or maybe,” Max said, turning toward Professor Dillon. “There are only bad aliens and they have a reason for keeping us alive.”
“There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense,” the professor said holding up his bandaged hand. “I was scratched or bitten by one of those damned things and I’m still okay.”
“That’s what you say,” Max said, grinning as he turned back to his computer screen.
“Where do we go from here?” Jack asked. He walked to the top of the stairway and looked down toward the lobby. Nothing was moving except for some flies and wasps that found their way inside through the broken front door.
“I think we should send out a scout team,” Tony said as he inspected their gear.
“But where to?” Clare asked, re-zipping a duffel bag. “We can’t just go out blindly. We need at least a direction.”
Tony went to the window that overlooked the back of the property. “There’s a few of those spider drones standing in the yard. All we have to do is follow them, and they’ll lead us right to the aliens.”
“Assuming the spaceship has landed,” Clare said, walking toward the window that Tony was looking out.
“What do we do when we find them?” Jack asked, turning around to face everyone.
“I don’t know,” Tony said, picking up his rifle. “We’ll figure that out later.”
“We’d better take some of our gear,” Clare said, pointing toward the strongbox and duffel bags. “Who’s going with us?”
“I’ll go,” Willis said, raising his hand as if volunteering for a school project.
“No, you’re not,” Sarah protested. “You’re staying right here with Georgie and me.”
“Mom, I’m seventeen,” Willis said frowning. “I can help them.”
Sarah looked at Jack as tears began to well up in her eyes. She knew Willis was a young man, and it was only natural for him to want to take on adult duties. Georgie stood silently next to her.
“I’ll go too,” Jack said, smiling at Sarah as if they were going for a leisure walk. Then he looked at Willis. “But you’re going to need to learn how to handle a weapon and defend yourself.”
“I’ve got just the weapon for him,” Tony said, getting a Winchester thirty-thirty short rifle with bandoleer out of a gun case. He handed it gently to Willis as if he were about to go through a knighting ceremony where he would swear an oath of obedience, receive his sword, and be ready for battle.
“My God, Tony,” Jack said, impressed. “It’s like you have your own armory.”
Clare walked over to Sarah and gave her a hug. “Don’t worry; we’ll take good care of him. We’re just going to observe the aliens, not get into a confrontation.”
“I know,” Sarah said, pulling Georgie close with her other arm.
Clare walked over to Willis and gave him a quick walk-through on using the thirty-thirty Winchester. She covered everything from not pointing the muzzle toward anything you do not plan to shoot, to loading and handling a firearm.
Georgie walked over to the window. “The spiders are moving.”
“We gotta get going,” Tony said, picking up one of the duffel bags. “I’ll leave the rest of this gear with you guys.”
Willis walked over to Sarah and held her tight. “Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll be okay. When this is over, I’ll clean my room.”
Sarah laughed. “Yeah, right.” She held him tight, not wanting to let go. “If anything happens to you I’m going to be very angry.”
“When I come back you owe me a bacon cheeseburger.”
“It’s a deal,” Sarah said, finally letting go. “I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Willis said, standing as if he were having second thoughts.
Dawn walked up to Willis. “Be careful,” she said in a soft feminine voice.
Willis smiled. Dawn smiled back. They stared at each other until Willis finally said, “Hey, no big deal. We’re only scouting.”
Jack walked over to Sarah as Tony, Clare and Willis began down the stairs. He pulled her close and tight. “I won’t let anything happen to him.” He gently kissed her on the cheek.
Sarah felt a rush of warmth spread throughout her body. His lips were warm and soft on her skin.
Jack released her, looked into her eyes as if he were going to say something, then walked away, following the others down the stairway and out the broken front door.
Father stood next to Sarah, Dawn, Georgie, Max and the professor. He cleared his throat. “I’ll pray for their safe return.”
Max stood, walked into the meeting room and returned with a thick dusty book. He blew fine, dry particles from the book’s exterior before opening to the back pages. “I don’t know much about religion, but the Bible says something about the Apocalypse. Doesn’t it Father?”
Father pulled the black beaded rosary from his jacket pocket and wrapped it thoughtfully around his hand. “The Book of Revelation talks about the Apocalypse.”
Max flipped back and forth through brittle pages that have not seen daylight in years. He sneezed once, twice, three times as disturbed powdery allergens puffed into the air. “When I was a kid, I remember reading about beasts, dragons, horsemen and a killer lamb.”
Max had everyone’s attention.
Father rolled a chair next to Max and sat down. “There are different interpretations of Revelation. It was written by John the Apostle, probably during Nero’s reign.” Father paused. Everyone was looking at him except for Professor Dillon, who seemed uninterested as he continued working at the computer. “Without going into a long drawn out history lesson, let’s just say everything in the Book of Revelation likely happened back in the first century, two-thousand years ago, but that was probably just a dress rehearsal for the real thing to come.”
“So, do you think this is the beginning of the Apocalypse, the end of time?” Max asked, repositioning his thick-lensed glasses that had slid down his nose.
Father shrugged. “Could be.”
Professor Dillon looked away from the monitor, rubbing his eyes, and turned toward Father. “I’m a man of science, I don’t believe in all this apocalyptic, superstitious, mumbo jumbo.”
“I’m beginning to believe it,” Sarah said as she began descending the stairs. She walked over to the broken door and watched as the van pulled out of the parking lot with her first-born son.