Chapter 04: Elevated Foundations

18 2 0

Bruce awoke with a start. His dreams were nightmares of being swarmed by the undead, but the worst involved the ones where he survived but was unable to save his family. Sweat glistened on his forehead, and he brushed it off with a shaky hand.

"Sweetie?" Celine asked softly as she propped herself up on one elbow.

Bruce laid back down, breathing hard. The sleeping bag they'd brought from their house felt uncomfortably warm at the moment, so Bruce threw back the top and climbed out. Momentarily leaving his wife, Bruce stepped over to the window. It was still dark outside, but he knew the streets were thick with crowds of undead.

"Just a bad dream," he muttered.

Climbing out of the extra large sleeping bag, Celine came over and put her arms around her husband from behind, resting her chin on his shoulder.

"You managed to create an island for us," Celine whispered in his ear. "You also saved another family in the process. It's dark now, but the dawn's coming."

After imparting her words of encouragement, Celine went silent, sharing the moment with Bruce and letting him think about the things he'd accomplished against incredible odds.


When morning came, Bruce and Dillion started their long and intensive search of the upper floors. They were forced to look everywhere, inside closets, under desks, even inside the cabinets of an office break room. If even one zombie were hiding in a place they failed to check, it could easily cost them the life of a loved one. They were relentless in their task, but it started to wear on their nerves, forcing them to rest a moment after clearing a floor and before they started the next.

Bruce felt as if he were flipping over stones while searching for a poisonous snake. The rooms he'd checked so far were uninhabited, but any one of those still to be searched might have something ready to lash out at him. Every door and every darkened hallway might hold death behind it. He wondered if a man could go prematurely gray in a single afternoon.

The twelfth floor was empty of all threats, so Bruce and Dillion breathed deeply for a few moments before exiting onto the roof. The bright sunlight stung their eyes and temporarily blinded them after being inside the building with its tinted windows. The sun hovered in the west, telling Bruce how long their search had taken.

Not entirely finished, Bruce and Dillion breathed deeply the fresh air of outside and began looking behind the massive air conditioners for any zombies who might be around. Thankfully, the roof was blessedly empty of all threats. The two men paused a moment to rest before heading back downstairs to check on their families and see how progress was coming along on their other projects.

While Bruce and Dillion were checking the building, Celine and Zora had been setting up the initial stages of their food production system. Using the supplies procured from the garden shop Bruce had raided, the two women had filled containers with potting soil, fertilizer, and seeds.

During their exploration of the ravaged grocery store, Dillion and Zora had managed to load their van with a few cases of water they'd found buried under spilled boxes. Kept hidden, the water had gone unseen by looters. Zora had been allotted a portion of the water for tending to the plants until their own water system was established.

The city water supply was still functioning, but Bruce didn't want to risk it as so many things might have happened to taint the water at its source or anywhere along the way. It would be a tragedy if the two families survived everything up to this point only to be infected from drinking water.

The stairwell door opened, and the returning men were welcomed enthusiastically by their wives. Relief at their safe return made their embraces last longer than usual as everyone was grateful to be alive and safe.

An Alternate VersionRead this story for FREE!