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Who the Hell is That?
Zombie Rules Book 8
By David Achord
This book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are fictitious, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
© 2021 David Achord. All rights reserved.
Chapter 1 – The O’Malley Brothers
“I don’t know, brother. This is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.”
Logan glanced over at Liam. The two of them were sitting motionless in their SUV, gazing out the front window. Powdery snow covered the road and surrounding countryside. The wipers moved the fresh flakes from side to side every few seconds.
“I’d say two inches, and the snow is still coming. We’ll have another couple of inches before sundown,” Liam said. He made a head gesture at the falling snow. “And, as for needles, we’ve solved tougher cases.”
Logan grunted. President-elect Rochelle VanAllen and three of her cronies had gone missing a week ago. Mount Weather’s Quick Reactionary Force, better known as the QRF, conducted a search several hours after it was determined they were overdue. Their search proved futile.
The conspiracy theories started almost immediately. Another search was conducted by a group of volunteers whose skills were better suited for gardening and KP duty in the cafeteria. A meeting was called, and much like a Dickens satire, the politicians began endless debates on what should be done. Finally, Grace Garret sent a note to Senator Duckworth reminding him there were two veteran police officers living in the Mount Weather community. Another meeting was held whereupon an hour of superfluous debating was conducted before an emergency resolution was passed.
On a cold November day, it was resolved, the Mount Weather community created an official police force. It consisted of two members: Logan and Liam O’Malley. Their first official case was to find president-elect Rochelle VanAllen and her entourage.
“This isn’t going to be easy,” Liam said.
“Never is,” Logan added.
“Alright, let’s talk this through,” Liam suggested. “Rochelle VanAllen and three of her cronies load up a van with their personal belongings and leave Marcus Hook, destined to Mount Weather, whereupon she was going to be assuming the duties of president of the United States.”
“Yep, that was exactly five days ago,” Logan said. “The QRF was sent out after they were four hours overdue.”
“It was headed up by First Sergeant Crumby, so we both know he took it seriously and did not slouch in his duty,” Liam surmised.
“His written report stated they found absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, not even zed activity, but it’s not zeds who did this.”
“Definitely people,” Logan concurred. “But if Rochelle is doing this as some kind of hoax, I might be tempted to go ahead and kill them off.”
Logan let off the brake and the SUV crept forward. Travel was slow due to the snowfall, but they had a job to do and they were not going to let a little snow stop them. They’d packed enough supplies to last them for two weeks. They knew this would be a slow, laborious process. Even so, both brothers wanted this to be over as soon as possible so they could get back to Mount Weather and their respective girlfriends.
Crumby’s search party had driven the entire journey to Marcus Hook and back again with no success. A different search party tried again the next day with the same results. A team from Marcus Hook had also conducted a search. Now it was up to the O’Malleys.
“We’ll get back on I-70 and head toward Marcus Hook, but we may need to find a place to hunker down for the night,” Logan said.
“Funny, I figured we would have run into at least a few zeds,” Liam said.
Logan agreed. They had not seen a single zed all day. They had not even spotted any zed tracks in the snow.
The O’Malleys figured there were two possible scenarios –
Scenario One: Rochelle was playing an elaborate hoax of staging their own disappearance. At some point, probably when their food ran out, they’d miraculously show up at Mount Weather with some crazy story about how they were kidnapped. They figured Rochelle was entirely capable of this deception and would use it for sympathy and to solidify her power base.
Scenario 2: Someone had ambushed them. Since there was no ransom demand, they figured it wasn’t a kidnapping, but an actual ambush. The kind of ambush where they got killed. If that had happened, they needed to find the bodies.
Also, if it were indeed scenario 2, they would be expected to identify the suspects. They were cops, after all.
The rumors had already started. The day before the president’s scheduled arrival, Zach and his family had packed up and left in the middle of the night. When Rochelle failed to show, this was enough for some people to believe Zach was the culprit behind her disappearance.
After leaving the downtown area of Frederick, the brothers had to take a detour off I-70 due to a snarl of over a hundred vehicles blocking the roadway at a bridge overpass. Crossing the Monocacy River, Liam pointed at a subdivision on the south side of Route 144.
“We should probably drive through these subdivisions and look for that danged van, but first things first, I need to take a leak.”
Logan slowed and, out of habit, parked on the shoulder. Killing the engine, he hopped out and joined his brother. The two men proceeded to urinate their names in the snow, something they’d done at least once every snowfall since their childhood. Finishing, they zipped up and started to walk back to the car, but Liam stopped in his tracks.
“You see something?” Logan whispered, thinking Liam had spotted zeds.
Liam pointed at a subdivision consisting of approximately twenty homes. “A couple of homes have burnt since the last time I’ve been through here.”
“That van you boys are looking for is over there.”
The two men jumped and turned toward the voice. A man on a horse was sitting under a large tree. The overhanging branches, filled