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Rachel had instructed Deke to fill the four galvanized water troughs in the feed store full of water before the power cut out. So they had a supply that would last a good while. She also knew the hundreds of bags of animal feed were edible by humans, even if they tasted like c.r.a.p. So they were covered on that score as well. Top that off with the fact they were surrounded by pastures and had an un.o.bstructed view for at least half a mile in any direction, and they had what amounted to a secure and hopefully surprise free situation.
For the moment, they were safe.
Now it all depended on the rest of the world.
Hopefully the quarantine did its job. At least a line of heavily armed soldiers stood a much better chance against these things than the people of the Textro last night. She just hoped n.o.body did something stupid and tried to end this with some really big bombs.
But there was nothing she could do about that but wait and see.
Until then, the best she could do was plan and try to see they had everything they needed to get by until either help arrived, or they tried to reach the quarantine line themselves. Harley said they might try after things had settled down and he was sure the soldiers weren't just shooting at anything that approached.
Movement on the horizon caught her eye and Rachel turned her head. A flock of crows flew along the distant tree line on the other side of the pasture. She frowned at the aerial procession, and folded her arms as she tracked their progress.
She noted their current trajectory would take them to the east and away from the store, so that was a small relief. Besides, they were flying straight as opposed to wheeling like Stacey had described last night. So they weren't following a pack of zombies either. The grim side of her figured they had probably gorged enough lately anyway.
And then it hit her.
"Oh my G.o.d!" Rachel gasped. "The crows!"
"Doc?" Harley's soft voice came from the corner of the building. He must not have been as asleep as she thought. "Is everything okay?"
Rachel didn't answer, her throat locked tight as her mind desperately recalculated the spread with this new vector in the equation. It was the roughest of guesswork. Pure estimation. But even allowing for that, the answer she came up with dismayed her.
No. Everything wasn't okay.
The world was going to change. Whether civilization survived or not...whether man survived or not... nothing would ever be the same again.
The crows would see to that.
They had been walking and feeding in the b.l.o.o.d.y remains of all the zombie's victims. Now they were moving on in search of future feasts. And they were carrying the means of making those meals happen along with them.
Rachel watched in despair as they flapped their way over the horizon...
...their feathers dusted with a deadly cargo of spores.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
D. Nathan Hilliard lives in Spring, Texas with his veterinarian wife, two children, and two cats. He draws his inspiration from a childhood living in different small Texas towns, accented by teen years spent in western New Mexico. He has experienced life through a diverse collection of jobs ranging from meter reading and being an a.s.sistant manager at a convenience store, to working at cotton gins, window factories, and uranium mills. After coming down with Charcot Marie Tooth (CMT) at the turn of the century, Mr. Hilliard now happily settles for tending house, raising his kids, and exploring the field of writing.