Here is the first chapter of my current WIP
Cailin awoke with a start as the plane he was on hit turbulence; the injury on his shoulder being jarred reminded him of the fight he had been in. A Russian operative had been after the same scientist he had been tasked with retrieving, the man had been almost twice Cailin’s size in both height and width. He had made it out but not without the Russian scoring some hits on him. The mission had been a success, Cailin had gotten the scientist out of the Arabic speaking country and onto a plane to the United States but according to an email from the Agency that he had received; the scientist hadn’t really known anything.
While he was asleep Cailin had dreamt of the fight, reminding him all the more of his injury. Cailin had worked for the agency for more than three years, most of that time spent overseas, and never had he sustained an injury that hurt as much as this one did. He was careful he guessed.
Once his mind had gotten passed his dream, and his injury for now, Cailin noticed a beautiful woman in the seat across from him. He had fallen asleep almost right after he had gotten on the plane, she must have boarded while he was asleep.
"Hello." Cailin said holding his hand out to the pretty woman in her mid-twenties sitting across the aisle from him. "My name is Cailin."
The girls shifted and turned away from Cailin, talking with the woman in the seat next to her in Japanese. Cailin recognized it; Japanese was one of the five languages he spoke. She had beautiful straight brown hair and was wearing a white summer dress with flowers on it. Despite the freezing temperature outside the airplane was very warm. The summer dress showed off the half-Japanese half-Caucasian woman's athletic legs up to her mid-thigh. Cailin couldn't help but notice, it was one of the first times he had had the chance to be relaxed around a woman in a while. He had been on deployment with the Agency for the last three years.
Pulling out his laptop Cailin set the screen protector that the agency had given him on the screen. It would prevent anyone from reading the screen from an angle so that he could have some privacy while he worked on his after action report for his last mission, the one he had been injured on. As he typed his injury started to aggravate him more. He started to take deep breathes and focused on the work, he wanted to finish it before the plane landed.
The seat next to Cailin was empty as were a fair amount of the seats around the airplane. A little over a year ago a virus had struck America, starting out in the big cities then spreading across the country and eventually into the neighboring continents. Two months ago the virus had spread to almost every country around the world. At first air travel was suspended but after officials determined that the virus wasn't spread by touch and wasn't airborne they resumed air travel. The fact that the virus ate the victims’ bodies from the inside out made it hard for scientists to study and the fact that some people appeared to go unaffected meant that they had to resume flights, they couldn’t put life on hold forever. Since then people abroad were scrambling to get back home. Cailin however was still on assignment then, it wasn't until four days ago that he had gotten the news that he needed to return home. Even though Cailin didn't have any family back in the States he still felt excited to be going home. He could go back to speaking English everyday instead of speaking Russian or Arabic.
He was looking forward to a bit of rest where he could read, relax, and go to several martial arts classes that he had missed while he was gone. He had kept up the martial arts by practicing on his own but it wasn't the same as practicing with other people. While Cailin was thinking about being back home the beautiful woman got up out of her seat. He couldn’t help but notice her magnificent legs. As she walked you could see the tension in her body, the readiness to move, her hands were partially cupped as if expecting something to happen. A martial artist then, it would explain her athletic build and her aggressive spirit. He hadn't been turned down for the last three years and that made Cailin even more interested in the girl. The agency had strict policies against dating foreigners.
When the woman came back to her seat Cailin gave her a nod and asked, "How was the view up in first class?"
Again she sat down and faced away from him but this time Cailin saw her fists bunch up. She was either stressing out or getting angry at him. Cailin played back what he said in his head, he really was out of practice with flirting. He decided that it might be best if he gave up for now. There was something he just couldn't get out of his mind about her though but the last thing he wanted was to piss off the woman who was probably her mother sitting in the seat next to her. Pissing off mothers was typically not a good idea.
Four pages later Cailin had finished his after action report, it was detailed as always, with everything that happened. Including the fact that he had gotten injured, he wasn’t proud of that. The better he looked for the agency the more fun his jobs would be. Going into that small Arabic speaking country was a mistake Cailin thought, it had been worthless, he knew it would be. Every scientist that every country had found so far had been clueless as to what caused the virus or how to fix it no matter what they claimed. The plane started to land and Cailin saved his report, stowing his computer in his bag.
“All flight staff please report to the staff area at the front of the plane.” Came the Captain’s voice over the intercom.
While the flight crew was talking up front Cailin looked over the empty seat next to him to see the sky, it was dark with clouds and snow. Besides the snow he could see nothing, not a single light. It must have been snowing harder than it looked like to block out all of the light.
The flight crew came back and took positions throughout the cabin so that they had a complete view of the cabin. Most of the faces on the flight crew that Cailin saw were rock solid, you couldn’t see any hint of emotion, must have been training provided by the airline, but one face in particular had Cailin off edge, a stewardess who walked past his seat towards the back of the plane with a scared look on her face and looked down at her feet the whole way.
“Attention all passengers: The captain has informed us that he has been unable to reach the local control tower or any in the immediate area. We are low on fuel so we are going to have to land at the Boise Airport despite the fact we cannot contact them. The landing might be a little bit rough because we haven’t been able to get a visual on the runway yet so please return to your seats, buckle up and prepare for landing.” One of the flight crew said over the intercom as Cailin was trying to think if he had ever heard of something like this going on before.
There was loud whispering throughout the cabin as people started to react badly. Jeez Cailin thought, the only easy day was yesterday. The young woman in the seat across from him was opening and closing her hands and looking like she was struggling to keep calm. Before Cailin had had no reason to talk to her, he had just been trying to strike up a conversation, but now he did.
“Hey, calm down. Everything will be okay.” Cailin said softly.
“Did you not get the last couple times that I didn’t talk to you that I don’t want to talk to you?”
“Yeah, but I don’t like giving up. Plus if you start losing your calm the whole plane might. That’s how these things work, one person starts panicking then everyone does. Chances are that we will be fine, there is probably a perfectly logical reason why we can’t get in touch with of anyone.”
“Well maybe I like someone who is a bit persistent. My name is Aileen.” The woman said looking over at Cailin finally with a smile on her face. After a brief pause she continued. “Truth is I noticed you when you got on the plane. You are a fighter too, I can see it in your eyes, and the way you carry yourself. You try too hard to act normal and that gives it away.”
“Very perceptive.” Cailin said. “My name is Cailin. Do you have anyone waiting for you at home, wherever that is?”
“Home is Boise; we are on our way back from vacation and no, there is no one waiting at home for us. It has been only me and my mom for a while.” Aileen said, gesturing to her mom with one hand. Her nails were painted a deep purple.
Using the control in his armrest Cailin changed the channel on the screen built into the headrest in front of him to view a camera mounted on the bottom of the plane. There was still no sign of light or anything else outside. People on the plane were talking to each other in loud whispers, not knowing what would happen.
As the plane got closer to touching down the flight staff walked up and down the aisles to make sure everyone’s seatbelts were buckled before they returned to their jump seats and strapped in themselves. The wheels of the plane touched down and swerved back and forth as if the Captain of the plane was struggling to keep control. Cailin thought the feeling was very similar to sliding on ice but runways were supposed to be deiced by airport.
“Where are all the lights?” A lady asked once the plane had slid to a halt. He was no longer the only one who noticed that something was wrong here. Everyone in the plane leaned to look out the windows but there were no lights visible from anywhere but the tips of the wings and the snow was still falling hard.
“This is your captain speaking, everyone we are still unable to contact the airport. We are going to taxi off the runway in case anyone else tries to land then we will have to use the emergency slides to exit the plane. Once we are off the plane we will make an orderly line and head to the nearest terminal. Everyone needs to pay attention to the airline crew, what we are going to do is dangerous under normal circumstances but with no lights except for our flashlights we won’t be able to see anything until it is right on top of us.”
The lack of lights had unnerved everyone on the plane but the announcement started people panicking. It took the flight crew a good ten minutes to calm everyone down while Cailin sat in his seat trying to think things through. He had no clue what was going on and the agency hadn’t given him any training for this kind of situation but that wasn’t going to stop him.
“This is probably just a power outage.” The Captain yelled as he left the cockpit along with the copilot to join everyone in the main part of the plane.
From under the seat in front of him Cailin pulled his bag out. Fishing through it he found one of the gadgets that he had kept from the agency, an LED flashlight on a wrist strap you could wear and point with your arm. It had been handy while overseas and it looked like it was going to be handy again. Once the plane had finished taxiing the flight crew opened the emergency exits that were equipped with slides and aided the passengers out of the plane.
Cailin was on the side that was going first so he had to leave before Aileen. He wasn’t happy about it but the crew didn’t give him a chance, he wasn’t going to fight a flight attendant over it. He would just have to meet her at the bottom. When Aileen came sliding down the slide her dress started flying up, she had to hold it down with a hand to keep it from blowing up. At the bottom of the slide Cailin caught Aileen, earning himself a glare from the flight attendant at the bottom of the slide.
“I am perfectly capable of handling myself, Cailin. Put me down.” Aileen protested.
“At least take my jacket.” Cailin offered, setting Aileen down on the grown.
With a glare of independence Aileen took Cailin’s jacket and put it on. She was already shivering though; the dress left her legs exposed to the cold snow. Aileen’s mom was the next person down the slide and Cailin also helped her to her feet, earning a very polite thank you and another one when Aileen’s mom noticed that Cailin had given up his coat to her daughter.
The group started off in the direction that the Captain said the terminal was in. The line stayed orderly and surprisingly quiet. Everyone was trying to figure out what was going on.
Before the group got to the terminal building Cailin knew something was wrong. The airport was dark, quiet and eerie. Even with the power out there should still be crew around the airport trying to get the power back online. There were abandoned baggage carts strewn haphazardly as they got closer to the terminal. The eerie feeling kept the group from wanting to get closer yet the cold pushed them on.
When they got to the door to the terminal the Captain went inside first to make sure everything was okay. Despite Aileen’s mom’s glare Cailin put his arm around Aileen trying to keep her warm. He noted though that as soon as he touched Aileen she tensed up. Using his free arm Cailin pointed his flashlight around the area, trying to find some sign of life. There was nothing.
The Captain came back to the door. His face was grim, there was only so far the airline’s training could go. “You are all going to want to come see this.”
In the beams of light produced by the flashlights the airport was like a disaster scene. Luggage, stands, and other items were overturned and strewn about. There were clothes left from people whose bodies had been eaten up by the virus and even worse there were bodies that had died from being trampled in the chaos.
“What do we do from here?” One of the passengers asked with a soft voice that sounded with both fear and shock. The scene in front of them was not only scary it was astonishing. Nowhere had the virus hit in one massive sweep like this. It was unheard of.
“We need to figure out what happened,” Cailin said stepping forward toward the Captain.
“I agree,” the Captain nodded. “Why don’t you come with me while everyone else takes a minute at the gate here to get a grasp of the situation?”
They walked off towards the shops while the others pulled the chairs at the gate into a circle and sat on them and the floor. At the first three stores they went to, Cailin and the Captain found nothing but food and magazines. Thinking ahead Cailin suggested that they bag the food and bring it with them back to the group after they found a radio or some other means of finding out what was going on.
In the fourth shop they finally found what they were looking for, a CD player with a built-in AM/FM radio. Cailin grabbed it off the shelf and stuck it in one of the bags filled with food. Before they left they also grabbed some more flashlights and batteries.
Returning to the group Cailin and the Captain passed around the food and then joined the people in the center of the circle. As Cailin popped the batteries into the radio there was an air of anticipation in the giant room. When the radio finally started working it was just barely loud enough for the people on the edges of the circle to hear:
“November 29th, 2017: This message started broadcasting at 1300 Pacific Time. This Emergency Alert has been recorded by BINC radio. The president of the United States of America is presumed dead along with his staff, there has been no contact with Washington, or for that matter, any government domestic or foreign. Almost all local law enforcement and military personnel have died due to the virus along with many other people. All public areas were evacuated but there is no one left to enforce the evacuation. What is left of society has crumbled; many other stations have stopped broadcasting, with looters in the street and other dangerous conditions we wish everyone good luck. This will be BINC’s last broadcast.”
After the message played the group was stunned into silence. Who could think the nation, the whole world, could be brought down by something that was so small you couldn’t see it. The virus had taken people’s friends, their family, but now it had taken almost everything else. The fact that the radio broadcast happened after the virus had eliminated most of the world meant that there were still survivors but how were the people here to know whether their friends and family were among the survivors.
What were they going to do next? Cailin thought. And as soon as he had started thinking about it his Agency training started kicking in. They needed to find transportation to somewhere out of the way. For now their main goal needed to be to avoid looters and any other dangers they may encounter, including the cold.
“What are we going to do?” Aileen asked, interrupting Cailin’s stream of thought.
“I am open for suggestions,” the Captain responded. He had reached the end of his ideas for the moment.
“We need to get somewhere where we don’t have to worry about looters. Somewhere out of the way, like the National Forest.” Cailin spoke up.
“That sounds like a smart idea but how do you suggest we get there?” The Captain asked.
“Rental cars. I bet no one has thought to loot the rental cars or the gas supply they have. The sooner we head out the better.” Cailin suggested.
“What if we don’t want to go with you?” A guy on the edge of the circle said with a loud voice. There was a little murmur of agreement from a number of people. Cailin thought that the people would think his idea was smart. But one always thought their own ideas were smart.
“I have no way of making you come with me nor am I going to even try to make you come with me, but with my survival training anyone who comes with me is going to stand a better chance of lasting the rest of the winter. I have worked for the government for over three years. I am… well I guess was now, a spy.” Cailin responded.
“I have family out there. I am going to try to go find them, I would know if they were dead.” The guy responded. “Anyone who wants to go look for their family with me feel free to join me.”
About half of the passengers got up and walked with the family man out of sight to another part of the terminal. That left them with just under one hundred people. They lucked out, if the plane had been at full capacity there would have been around four hundred people and even with about two hundred people it would be hard to ferry all of them to the Forest.
The rest of the group divided themselves up into smaller groups to go to different rental car agencies, the more rental car agencies they went to the more gas and better choice they would have in cars. Afterwards they would gather supplies before the trip to the National Forest. They had agreed to a predetermined meeting point for once they had supplies.
Cailin’s group was going to go find weapons and camping supplies. With Cailin’s government and survival experience the group voted that he was the best person to lead that group. In his group Cailin had whoever in the group that had military, law enforcement or security experience. There was a young man, around the age of nineteen who was just back from boot camp, his name was Austin, a former security officer named Bob, an Air Force scientist named Samantha, a guy with a heavy British accent who hunted on the weekends named Lyle, a police officer named Paul who was on a special assignment when the virus had hit, and a man in his seventies named Oliver who was in the Army when he was younger.
Last but not least Aileen insisted on going with Cailin and he couldn’t say no when she started begging with a puppy dog face. Not even her mom’s insistence that she not go would stop Aileen from going. Cailin guessed it was not only the fact that he was in the group, they had only just met, but that it was also the fact that their group was the most likely to see any kind of action and Aileen wanted to see action, he could tell by the urge to go with him. Cailin couldn’t blame her when the Agency still existed he enjoyed the action that he got to see in his job. Most people would call him an adrenaline junky.
At the rental car agency that Cailin group and the Captain’s group went to they found keys to two trucks, a couple of SUV’s, a van, and a crossover. Cailin’s group took the keys to the two trucks and an SUV. The Captain’s group was bigger they were going to need the vehicles that held more people just to get around.
Walking through the parking lot Cailin pressed the button on the key, looking for the Ford truck that the tag on the key belonged to. They found it parked in the area of cars that were ready to go out. It was a four-door, dark green Ford truck with a big cab and bed. Cailin got in the driver’s seat and once him and Aileen were in the truck they drove the short distance to the fuel tank and filled up the truck along with several red gas canisters they found nearby.
Ready to go the two pulled the truck to the exit of the rental car area and waited for the other two vehicle. The truck was the first one to pull up followed by the SUV. There shapes distinguishable but muted in the falling snow.
Their first stop was Cailin’s place and the sporting goods store. There was only a block between the two so while Cailin and Aileen went to Cailin’s house to get some of his survival supplies the others went into the store to get camping gear. Cailin’s house looked out of place, the small house had stores on either side and it was on the outskirts of the business district of Boise.
Inside Aileen was looking curiously at everything she could find using a flashlight that Cailin had given her from the kitchen. For the house of a spy Aileen was pretty disappointed, it was very normal. There were paintings on the warm red walls, a rug on the wooden floor of the living room, and a tiled, clean kitchen. While Aileen was looking around Cailin’s house he was in the back room putting his handgun collection into a bag along with boxes of ammo. The last gun to come out of the safe was holstered; Cailin put it on his belt and loaded the clip, along with two spare clips. Not including the gun that was holstered on Cailin’s belt he had five handguns.
“Do you have anything I could put on instead of this dress?” Aileen asked when Cailin came back in the room to drop the bag. “It is pretty cold.”
“I might have some old clothes that you will fit into. Follow me.” Cailin led Aileen up a small ladder in the living room to a loft with a bed, dresser, and small desk. “This was my room when I was a kid so I figured I would keep it even after my parents died.” Cailin fished out a pair of jeans and a turtleneck from the dresser. They were clothes that were too small for him so he left them when he went on assignment.
“Um could you give me some space?” Aileen asked when Cailin didn’t move.
“Oh, yes.” Cailin responded blushing.
Cailin climbed down the ladder back to the living room. From the back room Cailin grabbed a backpack and filled it with some canned food that he had stored in the kitchen in case of a disaster.
By the time the bag was full Aileen was sliding down the ladder.
“Even while emptying my gun safe I could tell you were curious about my place. Maybe you just weren’t looking in the right place. Come with me.” Cailin said opening a door that had been closed, leading Aileen down into the basement.
The ceiling in the basement was low and the wood paneling and cement floors gave it a tight feeling. On the wall opposite the stairwell Cailin lifted a blank light switch panel to reveal a keypad. After inserting his code there was a soft clicking noise and a portion of the wall unlatched itself and slid away. The actual door mechanism was magnetic, built for a situation like this where the power was not on.
Inside the hidden room, it was barely big enough to walk. It was five feet long and about a foot and a half of moving space. Against either wall there were shelves. Off of one shelf Cailin grabbed a bag that said search and rescue on the back and tossed it out the door into the main room. As Aileen stepped into the closet she found what she had thought a spy would have in his house. There were passports, money from different countries, IDs, and other things needed to establish aliases. Cailin picked up a duffel bag hidden under the bottom shelf on one side and put a nasty looking assault rifle into it from the shelves along with a black tactical uniform, a fair amount of rifle ammo, and a couple of other miscellaneous things from the shelves, including a first aid kit.
“Wow you really were a spy,” Aileen said.
Cailin nodded. Picking up some of the passports Aileen found Cailin’s picture but with many different names. She looked excited.
“This is the most awesome thing I have ever seen!”
“It’s what I did, it was fun.” Cailin said, after working the job for so long and not being able to talk about it Cailin didn’t really know what to say about it.
“You are going to have to tell me some stories.” Aileen prodded.
“Okay but for now let’s get this stuff to the truck.” Cailin said.
Cailin carried the duffel bag up the stairs. Aileen grabbed the search and rescue bag and ran out to the truck in the cold, throwing the bag in the back seat. Trying not to be out in the cold for longer than she had to. Cailin picked up the rest of the bags in a haphazard way and brought them to the truck in one load. Before leaving though Cailin went back into his house and came back out with a shotgun and several boxes of ammo. Loading the shotgun Cailin walked tossed the boxes in the back of the truck then went to go check on the others in the department store.
He found them in the store bringing out the last shopping carts full of whatever supplies were left and throwing them in the vehicles. Cailin snuck a peek in the other truck and SUV. They were pretty full, there were a couple of tents, some sleeping bags, blankets, camp stoves, propane, a little bit of food, and many other camping supplies. They might just make it through the bad winter, when Cailin was a kid in Boise the winters were never this bad.
The vehicles were loaded up and Cailin was headed back to the truck he was driving when he started to see a flashlight beam shining through the snow. It was still night out, Cailin couldn’t think of what else besides a flashlight could be causing the beam. He started walking that direction, his shotgun hanging loosely, ready to be brought up to defend himself if necessary.
Shots echoed as whoever was holding the flashlight started shooting at him. Cailin returned fire in the general direction of the flashlight. Pausing in between shots Cailin backed up towards the truck, he only had eight in the shotgun so he didn’t want to waste them.
“Go, go, go!” Cailin yelled jumping into the bed of the pick-up truck.
Aileen slid over to the driver’s seat from her resting place in the passenger’s seat and turned the key. Cailin tossed the shotgun aside in the bed of the truck and pulled out his handgun, readying it in case Aileen didn’t get them out of here before the people shooting at them came into sight. He heard the truck and SUV in front of them take off and with a lurch Cailin’s truck flew off after them, driving as fast as Aileen dared to on the snowy and icy ground. Cailin had to hold on to the bed of the truck to keep from sliding around.
“You do have your driver’s license right?” Cailin yelled through the partition dividing the bed from the truck. Aileen’s response was swerving the truck a little bit. Cailin glared at her through the partition before she lowered the back window so he could climb in and over his bags to the passenger’s seat.
They met up with the rest of the vehicles from the plane at the rendezvous point with no event.
On the drive into the forest Cailin fell asleep in the passenger’s seat, head against the window. He would need his energy later, so why not sleep for a couple of hours.
When the convoy was past the edges of the forest where there were still businesses and houses, Aileen shook Cailin awake. He was supposed to keep an eye out for a good place to pull over and start their camp. Looking around and orienting himself, Cailin noticed that they were now in the lead with the SUV that the Captain was in was behind them followed by the rest of the cars. About three hours’ drive from Boise Cailin saw a forest service airstrip that had a big clearing and was surrounded by trees. There was no sign of it having been used since the snow started to fall so the group pulled in there and parked on the far side of the clearing away from the road.
The clearing was about a mile long for the dirt runway and half that wide. It was light out now and they could see from one side of the clearing to the other in the snow but any further was a challenge. Besides the dirt runway the whole clearing appeared to be empty. It would work well for their new home. For the rest of the day the group of survivors set up a base camp with the tents they had and strung tarps from tree to tree just outside of the clearing. This would only be temporary, one of the groups that had went out looking for supplies had hit up the hardware store and gotten wood, nails, tools, and other such things that would be helpful for building a structure. Once their campsite was set up the group scavenged dry wood from under trees and used some firewood that the group that had gone to the grocery store had brought to start a fire. They placed some wet wood on the edges of the fire to dry it out.
They needed as much firewood as they could get because if the fire went out they would lose one of their biggest survival tools. Keeping warm was a big part of winter survival; it was also a hard part. Dry wood was hard to find in the snow and starting a fire was difficult without a lighter or matches. Luckily Cailin’s survival pack had all-weather matches in it.
“What exactly did you have a bag like this ready to go for?” The Captain asked Cailin after the fire was started.
“I was an EMT when I was in college and wilderness medicine certified, it has been a while though.. Next to working for the CIA it was the second best job I have ever had. I got to go out for days at a time to go find people who were lost or stuck in the forest.” Cailin answered.
“Sounds fun. I took pilot survival classes when I was in the Air Force but I never found them that fun.” The Captain said.
“I just realized that I don’t know your name Captain, you have yet to introduce yourself.” Cailin said.
“I am Captain John Adams.” The Captain said, holding his hand out for Cailin to shake.
Cailin shook it and they sat down next to the fire, resting. The two spent the night next to the fire, taking turns watching over the camp.