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Chapter 1: Life After the Apocalypse

Jonathan Smith trudged wearily along the deserted road, his backpack weighing heavily on his shoulders and his rifle always at the ready. Maru, his faithful dog, trotted loyally behind, sniffing the air for any lurking danger. It had been over three years since the zombie outbreak began sweeping the world, and Jonathan still couldn’t get used to the eerie silence of the dead cities.

Each day was a struggle for survival for Jonathan. He had to scavenge for food, water, and safe shelter, always alert to the threat of zombie attacks. Sometimes he encountered other survivor groups, but most were untrustworthy. In this post-apocalyptic world, self-preservation was the top priority.

The only thing that kept Jonathan going was the hope of finding his young daughter Sam. Before the Deadbreak, his wife had taken Sam to her parents’ home in Vermont for the summer vacation. But when the zombie pandemic struck, he lost contact with his family. His wife sacrificed herself to get him away from a zombie horde in Los Angeles. Now, reuniting with his daughter was Jonathan’s sole driving force to keep living.

After the outbreak, Jonathan traveled to Vermont to search for Sam. He found his in-laws’ house ransacked and abandoned. On the wall, his father-in-law had left a message: “J & J, find us at FMP, GA. Find Commodore. M & D.” Jonathan realized they had taken Sam to Fort McPherson, Georgia, where his father-in-law’s close friend James “Commodore” Richie was stationed. When he reached the devastated Fort McPherson, Jonathan found his in-laws’ bodies. Clutched in his father-in-law’s hand was a note: “Commodore got my Penny on the last flight out to Pearl. Find them and tell my girls Papa loves them so much.”

Since then, Jonathan had been on a quest to reach Hawaii, believing that is where his daughter was taken. He has traversed the country, from crowded cities to remote backwoods, searching for clues about operating airfields or ships that could get him to the islands. But the pandemic has crippled nearly all transportation. Those with means had long since fled the mainland. Jonathan had made it as far as San Diego, Washington D.C., and up the West Coast, but always came up empty.

Now Jonathan and Maru are headed to Montana, having heard rumors of a pilot there who has been flying people out internationally every few months. If the tip is accurate, it may be his last chance to find a lead to Hawaii. But the journey ahead is fraught with perils, the forests and plains harboring threats from zombies, wild animals, and vicious gangs.

Despite the hardships, Jonathan remains resolute in his mission to find his daughter. He knows in this cruel new world, family love is the most precious thing to cling to. And he believes the powerful bond between a father and daughter will see him through any danger to be reunited with Sam…


Chapter 2: The Town of Solitary Souls


After many days of wandering, Jonathan and Maru finally arrived at Bahama City, a small town in Montana. From a distance, it looked like a safe haven amid the desolate world. Steel walls encircled the town, with guard posts manned 24/7. On the streets, people bustled about trading goods, children played, and everything seemed almost normal as if the pandemic had never happened. 

Jonathan had grown so accustomed to the eerie silence and emptiness of dead cities that the vibrant scene before him left him awestruck. He led Maru into town, silently exhaling in relief. It had been so long since they’d seen this many people. Curious and wary eyes tracked their every step. A large man approached shotgun in hand.

“You there, stranger. What business ya got here?” he asked gruffly.  

“Just looking for a place to spend the night and resupply provisions,” Jonathan replied, raising his hands. “No trouble, I swear.”

The man squinted at Jonathan for a moment, then lowered his weapon. “All right then, but you’ll need to hand over your firearms. And don’t forget, we’ll be watching you close.”

Jonathan reluctantly surrendered his rifle and pistol, keeping only his combat knife. They made their way into the town center where locals had gathered at a bar. As Jonathan pushed through the door, the raucous laughter and chatter died down. All eyes turned toward him. Unfazed by their discomfort, he found an empty table in the corner, ordered food, and began eating ravenously.  

Less than five minutes later, a red-haired young woman approached and sat across from him, smiling warmly. “Hey there, I’m Linda, the town nurse. It’s been ages since we had an outsider visit.”

Jonathan stared at the beautiful girl in surprise. The whole town seemed to view him as a threat, yet she boldly approached him like this?   

“I’m Jonathan. Aren’t you scared of an armed stranger like me?”  

Linda chuckled lightly. “You do look pretty scary, but I trust my instincts. Besides, we’re all survivors here, we need to help each other out.”

The warmth and openness put Jonathan strangely at ease. He told her about his quest to find his daughter and the roadblocks he’d hit. Linda frowned pensively before speaking.

“Hmm, that’s a tough one. But maybe I know someone who can help. Come see me at the clinic tomorrow, we’ll talk it over more then.”  

With that, Linda swiftly departed, leaving Jonathan alone with a whirlwind of thoughts. Could this stranger really be trusted? But in his situation, it was the only lead he had – he had to take the chance.

The next day, Jonathan brought Maru to the clinic where Linda worked. The town was far quieter, people standing in clusters whispering furtively to each other. Ignoring their suspicious stares, he pushed inside to find Linda bandaging a young boy’s wound. Spotting him, her face lit up in a bright smile. 

“Jonathan, please have a seat. Let me finish up here and then we’ll talk.”

Jonathan nodded, eyes scanning the well-stocked clinic – medicine, medical equipment, beds, all seeming too plentiful for such a remote town. Certificates and commendations for combat medicine lined the walls under the name Linda McCray.

“All done. As you can see, no matter how cruel this world gets, the work of a nurse never stops,” Linda said as the boy departed. She took a seat across from Jonathan, her cheery smile fading. “I hear you’re trying to find a way to Hawaii to reunite with your daughter? Well, the situation is…” 

Seeing the weariness etch her features, Jonathan knew it wasn’t good news. “How bad?”

Linda sighed heavily. “A week ago, we discovered the Concerned Citizens Brigade gang was scouting Bahama City. They bill themselves as helping folks, but really they’re just vicious raiders and rapists. Their leader goes by the name Scooter.”

Jonathan’s brow furrowed. “I’ve heard that name before. He’s notoriously ruthless, kills without a blink. But what does this have to do with my plans?”

Linda hesitated, then rushed out, “The only pilot here capable of flying you out was abducted by them yesterday. They also stole his plane.”

The glimmer of hope died in Jonathan’s eyes. Once again, the path to Sam had been cruelly blocked. In this merciless new world, the most vicious monsters weren’t the zombies, but the evil men no better than animals.

“They sent a message too – if we don’t hand over food, medicine, medical supplies…and women, they’re going to attack the town.” Linda continued, voice quavering. “The mayor is considering giving in to their demands.”

Jonathan clenched his fists in anger at such cowardly thoughts. Just then, warning sirens blared throughout the town. People poured into the streets screaming in panic.

“What’s happening?” Linda leapt up, eyes wide with fear. 

A disheveled man burst in, face ashen. “They’re…they’re attacking! A massive zombie horde along with Scooter’s men are storming the town! Run!”  

Jonathan immediately shot to his feet, turning to Linda with fury and determination blazing in his eyes. “You stay here with the civilians, I’m going to stop those bastards!”

“Wait! You can’t take them on alone!” Linda gripped his arm. “The people still need my help, they’re scattered and scared!”

“You’re a nurse, Linda. Your job is to heal people, let me handle the fighting!” Jonathan said resolutely. “Maru, let’s move!”

The faithful dog snarled in response as they charged out of the clinic and into the new battle. Jonathan knew that whether zombie or human, anyone trying to block his path to Sam was now the enemy. He would fight to the end to protect his life and his hopes.

They raced to the town gates to find chaos erupting before them. Swarming dark shapes clambered over the defense walls, horrific screeches rending the air. The town militia was being overwhelmed by the sheer numbers, many already showing signs of infection and turning on their comrades. Jonathan took a deep breath, wondering if he could possibly survive this onslaught.


Chapter 3: The Army of Darkness

The sun gradually sank behind the buildings, darkness engulfing Bahama City. In the night, the zombie horde became more terrifying and bloodthirsty than ever. Jonathan and Maru fought relentlessly, each taking a different direction to fend off the waves of undead pouring into town. Maru nimbly darted into the monster throngs, biting and knocking them down for Jonathan to finish off. Gunfire crackled continuously, each shot dropping another zombie, but still, they seemed to flow in endlessly.

Just as Jonathan downed one with a headshot, Maru barked a warning. Two unfamiliar men charged out of the shadows, armed with knives and iron bars. Not zombies – living, malicious humans! Jonathan quickly opened fire, a bullet whizzing past one man’s shoulder. The other swung his bar at Jonathan’s chest, staggering him back a few steps. Simultaneously, Maru lunged, clamping his jaws on the knife wielder’s leg and dragging him down. Jonathan slugged the other across the face, then cracked his gun stock over his head, dropping him. He stomped hard on the remaining man’s hand, causing him to howl in pain and drop his blade.

“You bastard! Who the hell are you?” Jonathan snarled, leveling his gun at the man’s head. The thug squirmed, face contorted. “Scooter’s men hit the village, we were just following orders to raid y’all!”

Jonathan snorted derisively and kicked him repeatedly in the ribs. “Go tell Scooter this town ain’t getting pushed around!” He flung the two thugs like trash outside the gate. They scrambled up and fled into the night.

As he and Maru continued stemming the zombie tide, Jonathan began feeling drained. Ammo was running low, his strength waning, but still the undead rushed forward like suicidal lemmings. Just as he thought his last hope was spent, gunfire erupted behind him. Whirling around, Jonathan saw Linda leading a brave band of townspeople firing furiously. The timely reinforcements allowed him and Maru to focus on taking down the remaining zombies.

The battle raged until nearly dawn when the first rays peeked over the ravaged town. The Bahama fighters collapsed in exhaustion, gasping and checking wounds. They had beaten back the CCB attack and zombie horde, but the town was devastated. Bodies, zombie and human, littered the streets awash in blood.

Linda knelt by Jonathan, gently bandaging his wounds. “Thank you for staying to fight with us. Without you, Bahama City may have fallen.”  

Jonathan gave a weary smile. “I think any decent person would have done the same. You’re the one who deserves thanks, Linda. You saved many lives while I just killed zombies.”

He gazed at the brave, red-haired girl before him with quiet admiration. Perhaps staring too long, they both flushed and looked away. Just then the mayor and townspeople approached, warmly shaking Jonathan’s hand in gratitude.

“You’re a savior to us, friend! Stay here in Bahama City. We’ll happily share our homes and provisions!” the mayor enthused.

Jonathan shook his head. “I’m grateful for the kindness, but my daughter is still out there waiting for me. I need to find her as soon as possible.”

“What he means is, we’ll help you find your girl, then come back to live in Bahama!” Linda interjected. “You helped us, now let me help you?”

Jonathan was taken aback by Linda’s offer. He knew it would be selfish to let this girl share his perilous quest. But looking into those determined brown eyes, he knew he couldn’t refuse.  

“Linda, this is going to be an arduous and dangerous journey. Are you sure you’re ready for that?”

“I’ve never been more certain of anything. If we’re together, nothing is impossible!” She smiled radiantly, sunlight sparkling in her eyes.  

Jonathan nodded firmly, gripping her hand. A new alliance was forged with the noble mission of recovering a child in this bleak, apocalyptic time. They began planning their preparations. First, they needed a sturdy vehicle to traverse the regions ahead. Jonathan decided to check the town motor pool across Bahama, who knew – maybe his savior awaited there? But for now, the trio bid farewell to dear Bahama City and ventured forth into the shrouded darkness to continue their journey.




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Blood Lines

Iron Garland


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