Jake threw another log on the sparking fire and then looked back up at the fading sunset. The last stands of violet blended into the darkening greys of an approaching storm front. All around him his friends and allies hurried to set up tarps and bring their meager gear into concise piles. He felt like the calm eye in the center of a storm of activity, but then again he had prepped his supplies hours earlier.
Heavy boots paused next to where he sat. He knew they belonged to Mitchum before he spoke. “I needed to ask you something.” Mitchum had been a retired officer in the Air Force long before the zombie apocalypse had begun. His leadership and knowledge had helped keep them alive, although since Jake had saved the entire camp by luring thousands of undead to their deaths, he had gained the man’s respect and trust.
Jake looked up at the older man. White sideburns phased into a greying head of close cropped hair. “What is it?”
“I was out hunting earlier and I discovered some geek tracks to the south.”
Jake poked at the blaze just as the first drops of rain created dark round spots on the forest floor. “Well, with us headed further south through the canyon every month, it isn’t to surprising that we’d run into something from that direction.”
“True, but Tal had taken a group south to forage and he hasn’t returned yet. Also I’m surprised you didn’t notice that your pal Dag isn’t back yet. You know he took Ellie and Renni with him. Your lady had said something about seeing some eatable mushrooms that way.”
Jake bolted out of his chair. “They aren’t back yet? Son of a… I need to go look for them right now.”
“Wait,” his arm reached out and grasped Jake by the shoulder. “They went north, the tracks were south, near Tal’s group. I need you to take a few men and check on them.” As the Captain spoke the rain moved from drizzle to outright downpour.
“That doesn’t mean anything. Geeks could be anywhere.”
Mitchum’s stern face regarded him. “If they’re heading from the south and you are between your lady and the south, you’re protecting her that way too. I’ll organize a group to search for Ellie, but right now I’m more concerned for Tal. I need you to handle this and with the rain crashing into us, the sooner the better.”
Jake grabbed his throwing sledge and slid it through the steel ring attached to his belt. His hand checked to make sure his pistol remained secure and then hefted up his big war sledge. “Flack still has a loaded rifle right?”
“Yes, but as always try to avoid shooting for multiple reasons.”
“As always, but he’s coming with. I want Boxer to lead the group looking for Ellie, or I’ll do it myself.”
“Done, now get going. This rain won’t be making anything easier.”
“No, it sure won’t.”
Jake cast one look back at the inviting fire that he’d just lit and then headed off to find Flack.
It was going to be a long wet night.
Thanks for reading Mitch’s journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath and come back next weekend for the beginning of a new tale.