Transcribed from handwritten notes.
January 9th 9:13 am
Got an early start this morning. Still snowing when we headed out. Before we left I handed Pastor Tom a gun and asked him if he would have a problem using it. He told me that the wraiths were not of God and anything not of God's creation was fair game. Then he pulled the slide back, checked the barrel and the magazine before holstering the .45. He obviously knows a thing or two about handguns. As for coming up against any human opposition he said that he could shoot in defense only, but would try to broaden his definition of self defense as the circumstances demanded.
Before I could object Emily hopped in the open back door of the tow truck. The floor of the truck is just over three feet so it was actually a pretty impressive leap. I was afraid that Dee would object, but she told Emily to take care of Daddy. Emily has made herself quite comfortable in the back seat.
The wipers are having a hard time keeping up with the snow. Its a damn blizzard. The heater in the towtruck is doing a good job of keeping up so far. Tom is a good driver but we are having to take it slow. Of course the road has not been plowed and is almost invisible under the snow. We catch brief glimpses of the blacktop where the wind has scoured the snow off the road, but unless the road is lined by trees, most often our only indication that we are even on the road at all is a road sign here and there, some mile markers and cars piled up along the side of the road.
We are taking MO-32 east and then north on MO-OO or "MOO" as the voice directions my computer pronounced it when I was printing out the map. Moo will take us to 64 and that will put us within 3 miles of where Billy lost Radar contact with Kyle.
Even with the grey skies I am wearing my sunglasses. Everything is white and my eyes are having a hard time. In anticipation of the headache I know I will get otherwise I have already taken three Excedrin. Washed down with the coffee from the big stainless steel thermos Beverly handed me this morning.
We spent the night in the Uni last night. It was far more private than the church and what we were doing out there, really should not be done in a church. I slept pretty good after that with Beverly there beside me.
Right now the Beatles are playing on the CD player. I am a little surprised by Tom's taste in music. I expected gospel or maybe some old symphony. Tom just looked at me when he slid the CD in and said "Hey I'm human." He even confessed to liking the Rolling Stones and ZZtop.
The towtruck has a plow mounted on the front and Billy explained the operation to both me and Tom. He also gave us a pack of some other gear that might come in handy. A pair of night vision goggles, a flare gun and a few other goodies I hope we won't need.
Wonderful, looks like we got a tree across the road.
Managed to get the tree pulled out of the way with no problem. I took over driving for a while. had to drive barefoot because my socks and boots were soaked through. Got the boots set up in the back with one of the rear heater vents blowing into them. Tom's boots were set up on the other side the same way. Emily quite thoroughly investigated both sets of boots. I warned her that her life would depend on how she treated my boots. She huffed and left them alone. Fortunately I brought a couple changes of clothes. You never know what may happen and it's too friggin cold out there to be parading about wet clothes.
We stopped at a Sinclair station in Boliver and syphoned some diesel out of a van sitting at the pumps. Just topping of the tank really. We have only covered a little over 30 miles. Emily took care of her business while we were setting up the syphon pump. We had lunch in the cab of the truck with the motor running while the wind whistled around the truck. Every now and then a gust of wind will rock the truck.
Going to have to find some dog food for Emily. I did not plan on her when I was provisioning the truck.
We have managed to cover another 30 miles since lunch. As much as I hate to, we have had to stop for the night. The weather is still bad and if we try to drive any further we would wind up missing a turn and wrapping the towtruck around a tree or something.
We are at the crossroad of 32 and Moo. There is a a Conoco on the northwest corner and a farmhouse on the northeast corner. The farmhouse has a fireplace and stacks of wood out back. So we will be warm tonight. Emily checked out the house for us, sniffing all around the house before finally going to the front door and scratching for us to hurry up and open the damn door, cause its cold out here.
I sure hope that Kyle has found shelter. I shudder to think of anyone forced to endure this with only the thinly insulated fuselage of the plane between him and the unforgiving elements.
I have found out a lot about Tom in this time. He served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2005 as a field medic. He tried med school after he got and found that was not for him. During that time he got involved in a local church, got married. To the wrong woman as it turns out. Two years later she cleaned out his bank account. He'd had over 32 thousand saved up, mostly from his unspent military pay. She took their daughter to California and refused to allow visits or communication. The girl OD'd on his ex-wife's pain medication. His wife was hooked on Oxy and was careless about where she left them. His daughter Olivia was Dee's age when she found the "candy" her mother usually kept in her purse, just sitting on the coffee table. She was cold by the time her mother woke up and called 911.
Tom confessed that as much as he preaches forgiveness, he has a hard time with that himself and is still angry at his ex-wife. But he did find himself more immersed in the church than ever and that eventually led him to where he is now.
We found plenty of food in the pantry and we will be having a hot meal as soon as Tom finishes cooking it in the fireplace. Nobody really seems impressed by my attempts at the culinary arts. There was even big plastic bin with Kibbles & Bits for Emily.
9:30 am - the 10th Monday I think
The day broke bright and clear this morning. I am confident that we will be able to reach the area where Kyle went down by this afternoon no problem.
We moved a pair of couches close to the fire. Before turning in Tom said prayer asking God to watch over Kyle and guide us to him, as well as watch over our loved ones back in Stockton. He is so down to earth at times it is easy to forget that he is a Pastor.
We were up and 4:30 this morning. Emily saw to that. She was barking and whining to be let out. Tom fixed breakfast while I searched the bedrooms for some warmer socks. Both pairs of socks I had were getting a bit smelly and they itch. I also grabbed some warm clothes for Kyle when we find him. It was only supposed to be a few hours at most so I don't think he brought any spares along with him.
My leg was really bothering my this morning so Tom is driving.
We spotted the plane wreck around 2 pm. It was not as bad as I expected. He landed with the gear up. I don't know whether that indicates he lost power completely before landing or if he decided trying to land in the snow with the gear down would cause the plane to flip. Kyle is an experienced pilot so I imagine that may be the case. There were what appeared to be bullet holes all along the right side of the small plane.
The plane came down on the south side of 64 moving southwest. It narrowly missed some winter bare trees and skidded through an empty field. He could not land on 64 itself as there is an overturned tractor trailer rig across the road. It slid about 500 feet coming to a stop less than twenty feet from a line of trees. One of its wings were clipped off by a tractor but the rest of the little Cessna was intact. We found tracks leading east. We trudged through the snow on foot. The snow and wind had done a pretty good job of filling them but they were still faintly visible. Emily bounded ahead of us and raced back seeming to urge us on. There was a big house just past some trees. The tracks lead there. Why he headed for this house, over one hundred yards away when there was a trailer park half that distance away. But I guess a trailer park is not as inviting.
About 50 yards away Emily suddenly stopped. Her bladder cut loose and she hunched over like she had been smacked. There is only one thing I have ever seen her react so strongly too. But Kyle's tracks clearly lead to the house. My heart sank. If they found him already injured then he did not stand a chance.
But we had come this far we had to at least check it out. I signaled Tom to stand back with his gun ready while I checked it out. I crept up as quietly as I could. The snow muffled the sound of my cane quiet well. Normally it thumps loudly enough that I can be heard walking all across the church. Tom kept watch with the rifle held ready and the .45 visible in his holster. I crept around to the front of the house. One of the two garage doors was open. I paused there a moment peering into the darkness. I could see little past the big SUV parked there with its driver side door open. Tom signaled me that he would keep an eye on it while I checked the front door. I did not want to get caught in that garage with little room to maneuver if I encountered a wraith. There was a big bay window to get around to the front door which recessed giving the porch a sheltered area. There were a pair of tall windows on either side of the door. I could see signs that someone had been inside recently, but could not see Kyle. I had to go all the way around to the back before I saw Kyle, apparently sleeping on a couch in the family room. A fire was burning low in the fireplace. But there were no signs of the wraiths.
That was when I remembered the CB transmissions I intercepted from Springfield about them sleeping in basements. The first basement window I found was covered by a thick mucous like substance. At the second I found I could barely see in at all. I almost jumped out of my skin when Tom tapped my shoulder to hand me a flashlight. I again peered into the basement, but now I could see them huddled one on top of the other. In the darkness it was impossible to tell where one black mass ended and another began. But I would say that there had to be at least thirty of them.
Now, how to get Kyle out without waking the wraiths. The house was starting to warm up. The snow was already beginning to melt off the roof. When it got warm enough the wraiths would smell prey and find him. Already some of them were beginning to stir. I peeked into all the rest of the windows to get a better feel for the layout of the house. Then I sent Tom back for the pack Billy sent with us. I already had a plan.
I fully expected Emily to go back to the truck with Tom, but she stayed with me. You just can't get that kind of loyalty from most people.
Tom arrived with the truck quicker than I thought. Without a word he tossed me Billy's pack and started dropping the sandbags from the back of the truck into the basement window wells. He had obviously already caught onto my plan. We would have to get more sandbags for traction later.
I took one of the little explosives packs Billy had given us and removed the explosive. I just needed the little thermal detonator he told me about. The little explosive could not be guaranteed to get them all and the goal was to get Kyle out not blow him up with the house. But the stairs were wooden and accessible through the kitchen which had a door into the garage. There were two five gallon gas cans in the garage. I left my cane outside the garage and limped across the kitchen floor with the gas cans. I crept as far down the basement stairs as my trembling legs would allow and began emptying the gas cans on the stairs. Simply blowing them up might have allowed the beasts to leap up and out of the basement. I wanted them to stay where they were. Tom, during this time was entering through the front to retrieve Kyle. Tom is 55 but still very fit. He could get an adult man in a fireman's carry and get out of the house with him, but I could not. As soon as I was up the stairs I took the detonator and set it for thirty seconds. I intended to set it on the top of the stairs, but my hands were trembling a bit and the blasted thing rolled down the stairs. You would not think such a little thing would make so much noise. It came to a stop in a puddle at the foot of the stairs right under the snout of a fully awake wraith. The abomination sniffed at the puddle of gas , looked up and howled up at me. I could hear each second tick on the wind up timer. It would be on me well before the time wound down. I started backing out of the kitchen as it was coming up the stairs. I heard Tom shout from outside "Clear!" At least I knew two of us would be getting out.
At the top of the stairs the thing paused as there was an audible click from behind it. I turned and ran. I actually dove across the tiled kitchen floor. Before I had slid halfway across flames were erupting from the basement stairwell. The wraith tried to leap clear but was engulfed in flame. I hit the screen door between the kitchen and the garage knocking it off its hinges, thanking God for cheap, crappy, Chinese timers as the wraith howled in pain behind me.
Running out of the garage in an almost blind panic I was tackled by Tom. He quickly got off me and flipped me over on my back. I heard a sizzling hiss as the fire on my backside was put out. I will be wearing a hat for the rest of the winter or till my hair grows back.
He handed me my rifle and ran around to the backside of the house. Together we both stood watch, shooting any wraiths that tried to escape the burning house. Only when we were both sure that their were no survivors could we afford to turn our attention to Kyle. He was awake, sitting on the drive near the truck.
He's in pretty good shape with just a few cuts and bruises. He might possibly have a cracked rib but that's it. We did not waste any time getting out of there.
The Springfield community is more like a small gang of thugs according to Kyle. The are gathering food and supplies, but even from the air it is easy to tell there is not a lot of true cooperation. The only thing they have in common is that they appear to be unwilling to share anything with anybody. They started shooting at him as soon as he was spotted. He confessed that he did not maintain radio silence entirely by choice. The radio was the first thing hit when they shot at him. When it became obvious that his fuel system was compromised he tried to make it as far as possible and burn off as much fuel as he could before setting down.
I needn't have worried about the clothes as he keeps an emergency pack in the back of the plane with a first aid kit and cold weather gear. A pilot buddy of his had to set down in Alaska once because of engine problems. It was two cold days before he was found shivering in a light denim jacket and jeans.
He had no idea he was sitting on top of a nest of the beasts.
My hands are cramping from all this writing so I will put this away for now.
Will be home soon.
© 2009 R. Keith McBride