Ada, my daughter, dropped off my three oldest grandchildren yesterday afternoon to spend Halloween with me and my wife Carol, so she could take the youngest two, Jake and Peyton trick or treating. Their father had gone missing two weeks earlier and only a few pieces of him where located.
Every call to her cell phone is immediately answered by her voice mail and I truly fear for her safety and for the safety of Jake and Peyton. The only information I received came through our local channel, WNOE’s morning news. Last night’s events are still developing and local doctors have been unable to determine where this mysterious illness came from or even its source, but I have an idea.
I retired after twenty-six years with the U.S. Army and my specialty was Intelligence. After retiring, I continued to work for the military as a consultant. My contacts in Iraq were vital to tracking down a terrorist cell that had developed a nasty biological weapon; rumored to be capable of slowly devastating a large area over a month’s time. No one really knows its capabilities, only that it changes a person and as it evolves the change comes faster. A month ago, I had received a visit from a journalist, Joe, who was going on assignment in Iraq hoping to find information. I gave him some names of my contacts that could lead him to the information he wanted. He mysteriously died a week ago!
As it stands now, a 20 mile radius of Toney, Alabama is under quarantine and marshal law is in effect. The governor called 500 national guardsmen to active duty to enforce the quarantine. Carol and I live in Hazelgreen, Alabama approximately 12 miles from Ada’s home in Toney. The worry of losing Ada, Jake and Peyton were taking its toll on me, I have to find out if they are alright.
My three oldest grandchildren, Mary, Kelly and Stephen, are tucked away in the basement of our home with Carol, their grandmother. She demanded that I stay in the house claiming, “Ada would rather you keep the three with us safe and not worry about her!” It didn’t matter how much she argued I would not leave Ada and other two kids out there in whatever this is.
I slowly moved out the front door onto the porch and began looking around the neighborhood. Our street was quiet but commotion slightly disturbed the silence from a distance and the odor of gun smoke lingered through the air. In my experience I had encountered the odor enough times to identify it. I am guessing it must be from the guns shots I had heard throughout the morning. By my calculations they were at least a mile away. I eased down the drive towards the mail box to get a better view of the highway. It would be well within eye sight two blocks down the street from the end of our drive. Once I reached the end there wasn’t any traffic moving about, at all.
As I turned to make my way back to the house, my 6 month old puppy exited from the culvert under our driveway. It appeared he had been run over and left for dead. Many of the neighborhood people evacuated in the early morning hours and probably wouldn’t have even noticed running him over. I grasped the puppy in my arms and continued for the door. He looked abused with an awful odor, matted fur and just seemed cold like one of the dogs from the ASPCA commercials with Sara McLaughlin. As I stepped on the porch I heard a snarl! Realizing it came from the pup, I let go of him, but the puppy didn’t fall to the ground. All I felt was dead weight clinging to my ear. The puppy latched its razor sharp teeth on to my ear and cheek; he began shaking its head, snarling even louder! I tried to scream but nothing came out. I grabbed it by the rear legs and began to pull it away from me. As a dislodged my attacker, a portion of my ear accompanied and the flesh covering my cheek peeled down! I tossed the puppy down in the yard and reached for the door but was too far away; I fell! Before I made it back to my feet, my attacker returned and managed to take a small bite from my calf muscle. I shook it loose and with a kick regained some distance between us. It rolled to its feet and headed at me again! I snatched a shovel we had left in the front flower bed and delivered a barrage of blows and chops, the attacker laid still, disemboweled and headless!
I sat on the porch for a few moments to catch by breath, but my breathing never slowed and my skin was becoming cool and clammy. Something didn’t feel right! My vision tunneled focusing on the smallest movements; I could see two squirrels hiding in the leaves of a tree nine houses down. Whatever was in my stomach was gone and I felt a deep hunger, but wasn’t sure what I was hungry for. My sense of smell intensified; I could smell my wife and grandchildren in the basement from outside the house, they smelled like food! Without control of over my movements, I began scratching and banging on the door. As my consciousness began to fade, my last unspoken thought was “Don’t open the door!”