The End: Story Two
Enter the Cave Part One

By: David K. Montoya

I woke when the bus came to a stop. When I sat up I realized that Renee was still asleep behind me. I tried to move without waking her, but with the first shift of my body she instantly woke up. She looked at me and gave me a tired, but bright smile. I told her that I was sorry about waking her, that I was going to see why we had come to a stop. After a big yawn, Renee told me that it was all right, and then worked herself over until she was sitting on at the edge of the bench.

I stepped away from Renee and walked over to my son, who was still sitting in the driver's seat. As I came up to him, he was shoving the gearshift into park. I asked Michael what was happening and why we had stopped. He explained that the rain was coming down too hard, and with no windshield wipers it had became impossible to see more than ten feet in front of him. He had turned off a side road and parked by a building. When I looked out the window I could see a complex through the storm and noticed a sign that read: Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

Michael and I stepped out of the school bus and the heavy rain soaked us to the bone in mere moments. We walked up some stairs at the front building that lead to a pair of glass doors. I wiped dirt from the window to see inside. When I leaned near to look through I was surprised to find how clean and well intact everything appeared to be inside.

Michael shook the doors to confirm that they were locked. I told him to step away, then I pulled out my handgun. Mike told me not to fire because it would cause the glass to shatter into a million pieces. I told my son not to worry, that the center was a government building which always had bullet proof glass.

I aimed carefully at the locks, so not to waste my only bullet and gently squeezed the trigger. The next few moments seemed to run in slow motion. The bullet shot out only traveling a short distance before it struck the lock on the door head on.

I walked over to the door and gave it a hard jerk, then heard the lock snap and fall to the ground once it was pulled opened. We walked inside the dark interior. The lights flickered on above and I turned to Michael who was standing next to a light switch. I asked him how he knew that there were working lights in the building. He explained that because it was a government building, it was most likely used as a command base during the later years of the sickness. That would have required them to install some sort of generator. And he said that he thought he saw solar panels on the roof when we were pulling up.

I noticed the counter that Michael stood by had several older military maps on it. The one on the top was a map of Nevada. I gave it a quick look to see where we were and learned that we were a few hours away from Salt Lake City. We were almost out of the state and with any luck we'd arrive in Haven in two, perhaps two and a half days.

I walked away from the counter and checked the walls as well as the ceiling to make sure there was no serious damage. Everything appeared to be in great condition. I turned to Michael and told him to have the others come in. We would stay in the complex for the night.

After the others were inside Michael came to me and voiced his concerns about Richard. He said that shortly after leaving Ely, Rose brought to his attention how ill Rich had gotten so suddenly. I asked my son where Richard was and he explained that my brother refused to leave the bus.

Mike and I walked out and boarded the bus. Richard was stretched out in the very back of the vehicle. Even though he had several horse blankets on top of him I could tell that he was shivering. We walked up to my brother and told him that we were going to take him inside because I thought he could freeze to death if he stayed out here. Rich grumbled something, but it made no sense. I grabbed under his arms and Michael grabbed his feet. While we carried him from the bus, I noticed how bad Rich really looked. He was very pale and his skin felt cold to the touch. I was worried that my brother had contracted something in Ely that could have been deadly; for him as well as the rest of us. Mike and I carried him into the Visitor's Center and put him into an area that looked like it had been an employee break room.

As I came out of Richard's room I saw the other three had set up camp in the center of the Visitor's Center. They were eating canned pears and seemed to be enjoying the secure surroundings. Rose held up an unopened can for me, but I told her that I would pass because I needed to make sure everything in the bus was safe.

I walked back out to the bus and once inside I headed directly to the rear of the vehicle where there were no windows. I shuffled through a few bags until I found a used bottle of peroxide and some gauze. I also found some tape. I laid everything out so I could clean and dress my wounds. I knew that I would have a lot of them with what had happened in the last few days. Once I took my T–Shirt off, however, I was surprised to find that only a few bruises were visible and the wound on my shoulder was nearly healed. My body should have been in a lot worse condition than this. As I was examining my arms I realized that my skin had started to look more like a human than an Unlucky. Was I healing on my own? Come to think about it, I was feeling better. I was unable to give my condition any further thought when I looked up and noticed Michael was standing in the aisle directly in front of me. He asked me when I had been bitten.

I explained that it was back in Airepseh, when an Unlucky had snuck up behind me and caught me by surprise. Mike wanted to know how I was doing now, as I slipped my shirt back on. I told him that I felt good, even though that made no sense, but I really felt good. I asked him what was he doing out here in the cold weather. Michael chuckled and explained that while checking the complex he found a makeshift shower. He had come to the bus to get the pack of matches to light the water–heater. I told him that he would not likely get it lit because there was no gas available to light it with. Michael leaned back against a bench and laughed. He explained that there was a large propane tank out back.

We got the water–heater lit and got the heating unit working although the entire building stunk for a good two hours, but we were comfortable and warm. It almost felt like life before the sickness. All of us agreed to stay there until we ran out of propane which we guessed would be in two or three days.

Michael and I carried Richard into the shower and got him scrubbed down and back into bed as fast as we could. It wasn't much of a bed as it was made of folded blankets with a sleeping bag on top of that, but it was the best I could do for him. After we got Richard settled in for the night and everyone had had their turn with the shower, I decided it was my turn.

I was amazed that even after the others had showered, the water was still piping hot. I stood under the nozzle and let the streaming water run down my head. It felt like several little fingers massaging my scalp. When I opened my eyes I was troubled at how much dried blood had come off me as it collected in the large basin at my feet.

After my shower, I felt like a new man! When I walked out to rejoin the others, I chuckled to myself when I found them asleep. I checked Richard one last time, as well as the area, before I slipped into my sleeping bag to call it a night.

Several hours must have passed when I was suddenly awakened by a loud scream which was followed by hissing and groaning! I jumped up from my pallet and saw that an Unlucky had Renee by the throat. I charged at the beast and tackled it down, which caused the demon to let go of Renee.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Rose pull Renee to safety. Michael ran over as I was struggling with the Unlucky and he frantically asked what he could do. I told him that I had the beast under control and to go check on Richard and make sure that he hadn't been attacked in his sleep. I continued to struggle with the monster. We both tried to get to our feet first. Neither of us was successful. Something was odd about this Unlucky; it fought more like a normal man than a primal beast.

I turned my head when my son called out to me and the beast sucker punched me. As I dropped to the ground the Unlucky made a run for it, busting out through the back doors. When I got to my knees I saw the creature run into a cave entrance.

Michael helped me to my feet and I asked him if Richard was okay. He told me that my brother was missing. I quickly realized what had happened and told him that I knew exactly where Richard was—that he just ran into the cave.

To be continued…

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