Chapter 22

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Chapter 22

Kyle came scampering down the tower almost falling in his haste. “Dad, they are almost here! They should be coming down the entry lane in a few minutes.”

“Are they dead or alive?” Mike asked the boy.

“Alive, I think,” Kyle said, his eyes wide with excitement. 

“Really? You’re sure?” Steve asked, grabbing the boy by the shoulders and lightly shaking him.

“Yes, Sir,” Kyle said. “They’re all loaded down with heavy packs and, while some are shuffling, I think it’s just because they are tired.”

Steve let the boy loose and stepped back from him. He scratched his head and looked at Mike. “I’ll be. I guess you were right, after all.”

“Let’s not celebrate just yet,” Mike said. “I’m optimistic, but I’m realistic too. I’ll believe things are improving when I’ve had a chance to talk to them.”

“Scouter Mike, should we unlock the gates?” one of the younger Scouts asked.

 “No, Carl. Leave the gates locked, just in case our visitors aren’t what they seem,” Mike replied.

“But what if they are real people like us? If we leave the gates locked maybe the dead ones will get them.”

“I don’t think that will happen, Carl. But just to be safe, why don’t you take the binoculars and keep watch from the tower? If anything or anyone is following the people coming toward us, shout out, okay?”

Carl thought about that for a moment before he nodded. “Sure thing, Scouter Mike. I can do that.” He solemnly took the binoculars and ran up the tower steps.

Mike took a deep breath. The boy wasn’t totally wrong to be worried about the approaching people. If they were all healthy, it wouldn’t be doing them any good service to keep them outside where the dead could attack them. At the same time, he had worked much too hard to keep the boys alive to risk their safety now.

It felt like hours while they waited for the people to arrive although it was probably only minutes. Mike could have sworn that every one of the Scouts and Scouters stopped breathing while they waited.

At the sight of the first of the people there was a collective sigh, almost a groan from the  people around him. It was very obvious the person coming toward them was alive!

The man trudging toward the gates was obviously not expecting to see people waiting for him. He stopped as soon as he recognized them for who they were.

“Hello the park!” the man called.

“Hello back atcha,” Mike responded.

“You wouldn’t happen to be a troop of Boyscouts would you?” the man asked.

That WAS surprising! Mike’s mind moved at a hundred miles an hour as he tried to figure out how the man might know what they were. He looked closely at him. The man’s clothing was dirty and torn and the man himself was filthy. That was obvious even from the several dozen yards that separated them from each other.

“Yes we are. But how do you know about us?”

“We have a couple of your troop back with us. They’re in pretty rough shape, but they did mention you might be coming this way.”

If the word Boyscouts had caught Mike’s attention, the mention of members of his troop really grabbed him. “What did you say?”

“I said, we have some of your Scout troop with us. We found them when we came across the city.”

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