June 6th, 2008
Peace was literally bouncing up and down with excitement.
"I take it you got in okay?" Ryan said, calmly.
"Yeah! I was all like-" Peace wiggled his hands as he spoke, miming picking a lock. "Then the lock was all like- bam," he twisted his fingers violently and made a grinding noise, followed by a teeth-clicking snap. He grinned proudly.
"Well done, Peace," Ryan patted him on the shoulder. "Now let's go see what you've discovered. Cowboy, follow me. We're through in here and I've got your next job."
T.Rex, Cowboy, and Peace exited the kitchen and walked through the living room. They each grabbed an armful of supplies to help Rubble and Angel Hair as they made their way out the door. As they stepped into the harsh humid air, they saw Kamikaze hard at work destroying the stairs.
She stood up at the sound of the door opening and leaned on the stair rails. "Howdy there, Captain. I'm taking out every other plank for now so the stairs are still somewhat usable. I also think we should make a rope ladder, as a backup that can be moved around as needed."
"Excellent," Ryan said. "When we get some downtime, I want you to make it happen."
She helped the three of them upstairs with their supplies, and they piled everything in the middle bedroom (above Ryan's room). Peace excitedly hurried them through the desolate, echoing apartment to the rear bedroom. The only items that remained in the upstairs apartment was furniture owned by the rental company, including a few mattresses and dressers, and kitchen appliances.
The back left bedroom was nondescript. Peace led them in and opened the second closet door, and pointed up as Cowboy and T.Rex looked on in confusion.
"There!" Peace exclaimed. "I found a way to get into the attic."
T.Rex stepped forward and leaned into the closet. Inside, on the ceiling, was a panel that rested on a frame.
"Most excellent. Can you two give me a boost up there and I'll have a look around, Lion King style?" Ryan grinned.
Peace and Cowboy crouched to let T.Rex climb onto their shoulders. They slowly raised him up and shuffled single file into the closet, making sure he ducked to clear the frame. Once inside, he gingerly pushed the panel up and slid it into the attic space. They heaved on a count of three, and Ryan found purchase on the lip of the frame. He pulled himself up as the other two pushed his legs upward, and his waist cleared the rim. Flopping forward onto his stomach, he scrambled forward until he was clear.
"Somebody get me a flashlight up here, will ya?" Ryan shouted down below. He crouched and waited a few minutes before Peace ran over and Cowboy relayed one up. T.Rex clicked on the flashlight and peered slowly around. The attic space wasn't luxurious, but a short person such as himself only needed to bend slightly to walk around anywhere but the tallest point. He walked to the end and back before the dust and stifling heat were too much to bear. Standing near the rim of access, he made sure it was clear in the closet before hopping down.
Back on the floor once more, he tapped Peace on the chest with the flashlight. "You and Cowboy have to figure out how to get up there reliably. Once you've got that down, find a way to punch through the ceiling."
"Wait just a second," Cowboy interrupted. "You want us to make a hole in the roof?" he moved his hands as he spoke, one passing by the other as if launching a missile.
"Well, don't start until you can figure out a way to keep the elements out, at least mostly. But yeah, we're gonna need roof access before long," Ryan said a matter of factly. "If/when it rains, we'll collect fresh rainwater, we can see further in every direction for recon, gives us chances for signaling, and it will give us a vantage point for sniper attacks if we can spare the ammunition. Plus, it's a backup escape route. Just make sure it's facing the west side of the house."
Peace and Cowboy stared blankly at each other as T.Rex walked out of the room to check on the other preparations, not quite sure of what to make of the last set of orders. Ryan walked briskly to the other end of the apartment, out the door, and leaned over the stairway railing.
"Almost finished down there, guys?" he shouted down to the Fools working below.
"Just a few more trips, T.Rex," Rubble noted from the downstairs living room.
"Let's finish up here, then," said Ryan. "Renee, go ahead and remove the rest of the stairs - we'll use the ladder from now on." She nodded affirmative and quickly dismantled the rest of the slats, joining Rubble and Angel Hair hauling the equipment up the ladder.
"Anybody heard back from Beard, yet?" Ryan shouted to the crew.
As if on cue, the bearded, mud-caked sentry emerged from the bushes nearby. "Survey complete, T.Rex. I'm headed up now."
"Alrighty, let's close it up," Ryan said loud enough for everybody to hear. "Everybody in the living room in 10 minutes."
The last of the supplies were moved up, the stairway was rendered useless, and everybody moved upstairs. Ryan made one last head count - Kamikaze, Peace & Beard, Rubble & Angel Hair, Cowboy, and himself, before pulling up the ladder. He closed and locked the door and made sure all the windows were shut, locked, and had blinds down and closed.
The Fools trickled into the living room and took up positions on the floor in a semicircle.
"Okay, everybody," Ryan began. "Let's lay out some rules. First off, we're gonna stick with the buddy system. I don't want anybody to leave the apartment without somebody to watch your back." He looked at Beard and amended "Beard here has the exception. He's got extensive fieldcraft expertise, and he'll be acting as our freelance scout, so he may be going solo from time to time.
"That brings me to my next point. Nobody should be leaving. I don't want to risk leaving this safe haven unless it is absolutely necessary. Reasons for that include," he ticked off his fingers as he continued "if we decide as a group that there's a better place to go, we run out of supplies or need information, there's a greater danger such as fire, or a legitimate authority has the area secure."
Beard raised a hand. "I'd like to emphasize rule number 9 - no place is safe, only safer. Our master plan dictates that we stay here for now since it's our best bet, but it is by no means impregnable or foolproof. Heh, Fools. Anyway, stay sharp and we won't have any problems."
Ryan nodded in agreement. "Good point. Anyway, if for some reason somebody does need to leave, make sure you tell another Fool. I don't want anybody unaccounted for, and I especially don't want to play guessing games. Well, unless it's improv, but that's another story.
"So, until further notice, we're under house arrest. I also am asking you all to practice sound discipline. That means everybody keep your voice low, and any electronics should be muted or blanketed. Nobody should be shouting or screaming unless there's an emergency, and if the power should come back, we run appliances sparingly when absolutely needed. I don't want to attract attention to this apartment from the living dead, or any survivors that think we might be an easy target to be taken advantage of.
"Similarly, no lights between dusk and dawn. Zombies have excellent low light vision, and any source of light could attract them. Or, once again, people can be drawn to the lights and I'd like to avoid that if we can," he said as a warning.
Peace grinned. "It's like we're in London during WWII and the Luftwaffe is conducting night raids!"
Ryan couldn't resist a chuckle. "Good thought, Peace. I've got some more things you're not gonna love, so thinking of it as a game or a scene can help with morale. Beard and I will work up duty schedules in a bit. That includes pretty stringent food and water rationing, weapons and tactical training, and a rotating sets of night watch responsibilities.
"Oh, speaking of, everybody turn off your phones, right now. Power is something we'll ration as well, and we will check for messages at regular intervals." All of the Fools scrambled for their pockets and a small symphony of beeps followed.
"Okay, Fools. I've got more jobs that need to be taken care of before nighttime, I just wanted to spell out the basics before we got any further."
Ryan ran his hands through his hair with a hint of exhaustion. "Tonight, we take care of rule number 5."
Current Word Count: 11,433