Stay away from the suburbs in Michigan - Chap 9
We stayed out of sight behind the bushes at the edge of the yard. “They couldn’t have seen us from this far away, could they? I said.
“I wouldn’t think so,” said Jessica.
Mark took another look. “They’re not there anymore…”
“What! Where did they go?” asked Jessica.
“We should go back the way we came and hide out in a house for a while,” I said.
There were no objections so we all ran back the way we came until we made it to a house with huge pine trees lining the yard.
“Maybe we can cut across the street here,” suggested Jessica.
We walked through the grass under the cover of the pine trees and stopped at the last one. The front yard across the street was unfortunately lacking in tall trees so we would be easy to spot when we went across.
We waited quietly for a few moments and looked around for any signs of the people we had seen. There was still no sign of anyone.
“Let’s all run over at once and head straight for the open door in that house,” said Jessica. “We can always run out the back door if anything sees us and comes after us.
“Good idea,” said Mark. “Let’s go.”
We all ran together and I stayed close behind Allie as we ran up to the porch.
“Hey, over here! Heeeey!” a man yelled to us from a window in the house to our right.
We looked over and I held my finger up to my lips hoping he’d quiet down.
“I’m so glad to see normal people!” he continued.
“Be quiet! They will hear you!” Jessica said in a slightly raised voice.
We ran into the house and closed the door, certain that the changed people or animals would be here any minute.
“Why was he so loud?” Allie asked, “Doesn’t he know what is going on?”
“I don’t know. Do either of you know who that is?” I asked.
Both Jessica and Mark shook their heads no and then Mark said, “Joe, why don’t you and Allie keep watch out front and Jessica and I will check the house.”
“Sounds good,” I said before walking over to the front windows with Allie. I was surprised not to see anything or anyone out there after the shouting idiot next door.
Mark and Jessica came back pretty quickly, “No one here, but we still have to check the basement. Be ready to run,” Jessica said.
As there was still no movement outside, I took Allie’s hand and we went to stand near the patio door ready to bolt if needed. The backyard was still and quiet too. I kind of wished we did see someone so we would at least know where they went.
After a very long minute or so, they came back up the stairs. “There was no one down there,” said Mark. “But there were some of those root things down there. They must have recently broken through since there weren’t very many of them.”
“We didn’t see anyone outside,” I said. “Maybe they didn’t see us and we can keep going behind the houses on this side of the street.”
Before anyone could answer, there was loud pounding at the front door. I was sure it was shouting idiot from next door and wanted to just make a run for it, but I’m sure he would follow us and keep drawing attention.
After a very short silence there was additional pounding at the door. “We better let him in before he attracts the whole neighborhood to this house,” said Jessica.
I reached into my backpack and pulled out a mask for Allie and one for me. “We don’t know where this guy came from so better to be safe.” At least the people we saw the last couple days in the neighborhood had been there for a while so there didn’t seem to be too much Covid concern with them. Shouting idiot must have somehow made it into the neighborhood recently. There is no way he would have survived.
Mark and Jessica decided to play it safe and put on masks as well. Then Mark ran to the door and looked outside before opening it up. “Get in here and be quiet! Don’t you know what is going on?” Marks said, scolding the heavy-set fellow who looked to be in his forties standing at the door.
“What is wrong with you guys?” he said. “And where is everybody?” He slowly walked in the door, which Mark quickly closed and locked before retreating back by us.
“It isn’t safe out there. I’ll explain in a few minutes,” Mark said. “But first, where did you come from and how did you get into the neighborhood?”
The man walked closer to us and we all backed away. “You can just stay there and tell us,” I said. “No need to get closer.
He looked a little confused, but stopped anyway. “I just got in from Oscoda and came to check on my brother. He was s’posed to come see me last weekend. He never showed up and I haven’t been able to reach him. So I shows up at his house and the door was wide open. Then I seen a bunch of other doors wide open ‘round here.”
“How did you get in the neighborhood?” I asked “We tried to leave and every way out was blocked.”
“There was this big hole…sinkhole I guess that I had to drive around. Whoever owns that minivan in there ain’t as lucky. I had to drive through some thin trees to get in, but my Silverado easily handled those..” he said. “What’s with the masks? This whole China-flu nonsense is gettin’ outta control.”
I’m sure all of us thought the same thing that it wasn’t worth engaging about the masks as there were much more pressing things at hand.
“Something’s happening here that’s changing all the people and animals,” said Mark. “They’ve been attacking us and we’re sure the police have been changed too. We think it is starting from these things in the ground.”
“I heard you was backwards down here and don’t like the police. You’re not anti-far or black lives matter people is ya?” he said.
Mark tried to get the conversation back on track. “Let me show you and maybe you’ll understand better. It’s down in the basement.”
The man hesitated for a few moments and then shrugged his shoulders and followed Mark down the stairs.
“Whoa, what is that? It’s movin around like a snake,” said shouting idiot.
“Can we go see them Dad?” asked Allie. *I promise I won’t go close.”
“He may need some help with that guy anyway,” I said to Jessica. I turned to Allie. “We have to stay on the steps though,” I said. Understand?”
“Yes Dad,” she responded.
The three of us went down the stairs to see Mark and shouting idiot down at the bottom.
“I ain’t seen nothing like that before,” he said and started walking closer to them.
A handful of root like tendrils had come through a wall in the back of the basement.
“I wouldn’t get too close to them. They have sharp thorns and fungus on them it looks like,” Jessica said.
As he got closer, the tendrils reached out for him, but they were about a foot or so away. He stopped to get a good look at them. One of the tendrils stretched out and got a little closer. Then it shrunk back into itself like a turtle going into its shell.
“What’s happening dad? Allie said.
“I’m not sure,” I responded.
“Hey, get away from there, we don’t know how they work yet” said Mark
The tendril shot out of its covering and something on it burst sending out a puff of dust into the air.
“Get back!” shouted Jessica.
The dust had gone right into his face and all he did was stumble a couple steps backwards and fall to the ground.
“Let’s go,” I said. The four of us ran back up the stairs leaving poor shouting idiot on the floor.
When we got to the top and closed the door behind us, Allie said, “Can’t we help him?”
I crouched down and said to her, “Whatever is in that plant is making people change so I don’t think there’s anything we can do.”
We all worked together to block the door, without needing to say anything. After it was reasonably secure, Jessica said, “So I guess we’re back to wearing masks.”
I went to look out the window in the front room. There looked to be 20 or so people out there in a semi-circle facing the house. “They found us,” I said.
Mark and Jessica looked over and Allie walked over to me. “What are we going to do?” Allie asked.
“Let’s check the backyard,” I said and we ran to look out the window in the kitchen. There were about the same number out there along with a few dogs and coyotes.
As if things weren’t looking bad enough, shouting idiot was now slamming against the basement door.
“Garage?” I said and Mark ran over to that door and checked.
He came back shaking his head. “They are out there too,” he said.
Jessica and Mark got the guns ready and I still just had my baseball bat. I knew we had no chance against them, but had to still sound hopeful for Allie.
I looked at the others and saw the look of concern on their faces as well. I crouched down to be face to face with Allie, “Dad, I’m scared,” she said.
“I am too sweet Allie,” I said. “We’re going to try to distract them somehow so we can get out of here.” I gave her a big hug. “I’m proud of you for being so brave and strong during all of this. You adapted so well to the changes from Covid and then to everything going on now. You’re always thinking of others and wanting to help. You are still the amazing positive girl you’ve always been and I can’t even put into words how proud I am and how much I love you. I know your mom would be so very proud too.”
“I love you Dad,” she said.
There didn’t seem to be any advancement from the people outside. And the pounding on the basement door stopped. It was creepy just having them stare inside at us.
“Any ideas?” asked Mark.
The ground suddenly rumbled underneath us, feeling like a small earthquake. When it stopped the people started coming towards the house and a lot of noise was coming from the basement.
I was still watching out the front window when a truck came barreling through the front yard knocking over a bunch of the people. Shortly after, a car came through and got more of them.
“Let’s go!” I shouted.
Mark and Jessica joined me and Allie at the front door and we went outside. Both vehicles were coming back. They managed to knock down most of the people that were still standing this time around.
The truck stopped about 100 feet away. Stacey leaned out the window and yelled, “Hurry, get in the back!”
We ran for the truck as the changed people were chasing after us. The ones that had been knocked down were getting up and hobbling towards us as well. The car came back through and got the people that were closest to us.
Jessica and Mark made it first and climbed into the pickup bed. I picked up Allie and the two of them helped her in.
“Lookout!” Mark yelled.
One person who had been unscathed so far was almost upon me. I picked up my bat and swung it as hard as I could, connecting with his midsection and sending him to the ground. Mark helped pull me in and then Jessica fired off a couple shots at the man on the ground.
“We’re in!” Mark yelled to Stacey and the truck took off down the street with the car following closely behind.
After we were a few blocks away, Jessica pointed out that the garage doors were all closed on the houses in this area.
One of them opened up and both vehicles pulled in. Mrs. Wilson was standing in the garage and pressed the button to close the doors after the engines were shut down.
Mark and Stacey jumped out of the truck and ran to each other for a long embrace. Jessica and I helped Allie get down.
Allie walked over to Stacey and said “Miss Stacey…is Anna okay?”
Stacey smiled, “She is. She will be so happy to see you again. I’m glad you all are safe.”
A young man climbed out of the car. “Thanks for rescuing us,” I said to him and Stacey. I didn’t recognize him from the prior meeting and was glad that more people had survived. Although, I wondered how many they lost. I knew for sure about Mr. Wilson and James the kid. Hopefully they didn’t lose anyone else.
“I’m glad I was able to help,” he said.
“I’m Joe and this is Allie. How many are with you?” I asked.
“I’m Chris,” he said. “We have five in this house and six in the one across the street.”
“We thought it would be good to have two houses in case one gets attacked so we’re not all in one place,” Stacey said.
“Great idea,” said Mark. “Especially with what just happened to us. We thought we were trapped with no way out.”
“How did you find us? Did you hear the guy that was yelling to us?” Jessica asked.
*We didn’t hear him, but we’ve been watching the groups of the changed,” said Chris. “We’ve counted five separate groups in the neighborhood so far. They mostly stay within their groups, however, they work together like they did when they surrounded you. Still not sure about how they communicate. I don’t think anyone has heard them talk or even make a sound.”
“I’ve been surprised with how neat and organized they are,” I said. The houses we’ve been in so far have been pretty much spotless.. well, except for the basements.”
“What’s wrong with the basements?” asked Chris.
“You haven’t seen the long moving roots breaking through any of the basement walls yet?” Mark asked.
Chris looked a little confused and shook his head no.
Mark filled him in on what we’ve seen and the danger of the things, especially the new details we learned about breathing it in.
“You’re sure you didn’t see anything in the basements?” asked Mark.
“I’m sure,” said Chris. “All the houses with the garage doors closed have been searched and are safe. We locked the doors too and have some of the keys in this house and some in our other house.”
“Do you have any radios or walkie-talkies?” I asked.
“We found one cheap kids set that we’re using to stay in communication with the other group,” said Chris.
“We found a pretty good pair of them and were able to make contact with a group of survivors at the elementary school,” I said. “We said we’d try to contact them again after we found you guys.”
“That is good to hear there are more survivors…I wonder how far this thing has spread?” Chris said.
“Good question,” I said. ” We should take inventory of face masks and see if anyone has any face shields. I’m worried the masks won’t be enough to protect us from those roots.”
Chris and Stacey took us into the kitchen where Anna, Mrs. Wilson and Chris’s girlfriend and her sister were sitting. Anna ran over to Allie and gave her a hug.
“I’ve got a surprise for you Anna,” said Allie as she pulled out the unicorn stuffed animal. Anna squealed and grabbed the unicorn and squeezed it tight.
The two of them sat on the floor and began playing with their stuffed animals. Jessica and I sat down for lunch with the others and everyone was caught up to speed with what each other knew.
After lunch, Chris checked in with the group across the street and I was able to reach the elementary school.
I let Sara know that we met up with the others and the new dangers of the roots. I encouraged her to make sure they had masks and face shields. She assured me that they hadn’t seen any of the roots in the school yet, but would be on the lookout. She let me know that a couple other groups had made their way to the school.
We took it easy for the rest of the day with a couple quick and, thankfully uneventful excursions to some of the nearby houses. We were able to collect more face masks and a few face shields.
Allie had a lot of smiles while she played with Anna and it was a very nice reprieve from the last couple of days. Later that evening we were planning on having a discussion about what to do next. Hunker down in the neighborhood and hope someone comes to rescue us or take action and head to the elementary school.