Chapter 5: There’s a knock at the door
The front door rattles as someone pounds it from the outside. “Ben!” is shouted out during a pause in the assault. He knew the voice it was Carl Fullerton his neighbor. Scrapping along the wall Ben positions himself behind the door. Leaning forward he peers through peephole. Just in time to see a bandaged fist arch forward beating the door again. Ben recoils backwards almost spilling his treasure trove of chargers. “Just wait Bianca ….” Ben hears the man on the porch stammer. Some where he hears a child crying a little girl whimpering softly. Spurred into action by the distressed child he yells out. “Hold on Carl I’m coming!” with that Ben sets down the equipment in his hand. He begins to open the door in a precise sequence taking down two by fours from the top, middle and bottom of the reinforced door. From a brace he had installed on the door and on the floor. Ben removes three two by two that add support to the door. “Wait a minute Carl I need a hammer!” he shouts. Ben sprints into the kitchen returning with a hammer to remove the doors last line of defense. With some effort he pries two by fours from the top bottom and middle of the door frame. Tossing the wood behind him Ben pops the door open to be met by the Fullerton family in a very disheveled state.
“What’s… what’s going on Carl?!” Ben demands. Carl doesn’t answer instead he pushed his wife holding their youngest in the door before hefting his oldest daughter over the threshold all three dressed in their pj's. “Ben……” the man stops mid sentence. Carl turns and closes the door to Benjamin’s house. “This morning ….” he pants out of breath. “I was jogging and some guys jumped me. We got into a scuffle one bit me on the arm and took a good chunk out of my pinkie too!” The man holds his left arm aloft it’s wrapped in a bed sheet. Around the covered mid forearm is a circular blood stain. “Wait what?!” Ben yelps as the little girl nestled in her mother’s arms whimpers again. Soon Carl’s oldest daughter Dakota starts crying as well her mother pulls the eight year old girl near to her. “I was attacked Ben! I need a favor buddy….” Carl looks about. “Look can Bianca and the girls stay here with you guys while I run down to the ER at St. George hospital?” Ben stands stupefied mouth agape “Uh … Uh yeah … Yeah no problem Carl.” Ben extends a hand to the woman and her daughters instinctively the thin girl clinging to her mother’s night gown squeezes further behind her mother. "Aw Dakota you know Mr. James you play with Belinda all the time." The injured father goads his child with his soft words. "Carl ... Carl its ok man." Ben licks his lips looking about cautiously. "Why not just stay her let us patch you up I'm sure it will make Bianca and the girls feel better to have you around." Ben implores. Carl holds his arm aloft with a smirk on his face "Damn drug addicts..... it was three of them wearing Halloween mask or make or some crap!" Carl seems to acknowledge the damaged limb and digits as an after thought. "Ben ..." he says looking past his homemade field dressing. "Do you know how many germs are in the human mouth? It's disgusting my friend that much I will tell you. I'm going to run down to the hospital they have a military style triage in the parking lot even though they still have power." Carl comes over to his wife gently he kisses the toddler in his wife arms and then he embraces his wife. "I'll be alright honey I promise…” the woman stifles back tears. Carl reluctantly releases his grip on his spouse kneeling before her. He coaxes Dakota from her maternal hiding spot softly calling her name "Dakota honey." In an instant the girl is buried in her fathers arms. Carl takes his daughter with his good hand "Dakota can you be a big girl and help mommy until I get back from the doctor?" He asks and her response is so soft Ben can’t hear it from where he is standing. Carl stands with some effort turning to Ben "Thanks Ben." He extends his right hand both men shake with a firmness that can only be conveyed by true friendship. Carl moves for the door stopping abruptly "When I get back we'd like to come over if the offer still stands." "Without a doubt Carl we’ll be here when you get back.” Ben tells his friend. "Tell you what Carl I will come back up and check every two hours on the hour and I will wait fifteen minuets before I head back down ..." The last part of the sentence he finishes with mimed quotation marks "...The Batcave as the kids have named it." The two men share a laugh as Carl opens the door "Hey Ben we have some supplies at our house we can get them when I get back buddy!" Ben signals his agreement with a bobble of the head "Sure thing Carl." The man trots off the porch and Ben watches him head off towards St. George's. He closes the door locking it and for the time being places the three two by fours back in their respective slots.
Picking up the chargers and laptop once more he becomes aware of eyes following his every movement. Bianca is trembling visibly. He struggles to find words to reassure the woman and her children. If this was his wife this wouldn't be an issue but Ben had never felt comfortable showing his emotion especially to someone who he knew wasn’t vested in them. "Um ladies this way .... was all that he could force out. "Ben... "The woman spoke up without moving. He turns to the petite blond noticing Cammy her baby was dozing softly on her mothers shoulder now. "Ben do you think ... think … everything’s going to be ok?!" Ben froze attempting to make his way to his hidden sanctuary downstairs. He had grown tired of hearing this question but what irritated him the most he had to lie about his true feelings. "Bianca ..." he said urging the woman forward "if I believed everything was going to be ok I would be living in a locked cell in the basement of my boarded up house." Strangely the woman cracks an awkward smile and moves for the open basement door "thank you Benjamin." He stops with one foot dangling over the empty black chasm below. It was his turn to be taken aback "Thank me.... for what Bianca?" She took his elbow as she instructed Dakota to "Go with Mr. James." Ben sweeps the girl up to his chest “for being honest with me.” She tells him "Carl keeps giving me that over confident everything’s gonna be alright garbage acting like he's not afraid. It's like he's at work and giving me the same pat answers he feeds his clients."Ben smiles at his neighbor’s wife then they begin their descent. A light flicks on from below them cascading up the bare staircase "dad is that you?" A voice forces out in a harsh whisper "Chip is that you?!" Ben calls back to the disembodied light "Yeah dad it's me and Brandon mom got worried you were gone so long then we heard a racket.” Ben takes a cautious step down and turns to assist Bianca Fullerton. "Brandon ...." he hollers "Go tell your mother I am bringing Mrs. Fullerton and the girls down. Mr. Fullerton was attacked this morning and he went to the emergency room." "Ok dad…” Ben hears his son’s sneakers scuff across the floor in the basement. Then seconds later as they make their way down a cry of "MooooooM!" Erupts through the quiet.
Chip uses the flashlight to guide them the rest of the way down the stairs. No sooner than Bianca’s slipper covered foot touches down on the floor. Ann moves swiftly from behind the bench “Bianca honey how are you?!” The Women hug tightly “Tell me what happened to Carl.” Anne ushers Bianca and the Fullerton girls behind the bench and into the shelter. Ben is left with his eldest son Chip. Ben places his haul on the workbench as muffled voices filter in from the other side. Chip rolls over to the generator once more flipping the switch just above the blinking red light for the second time in as many days. The Depot is illuminated once again Chip watches his dad dutifully go about plugging the chargers in a power strip. Ben starts to round the bench and head for the passageway he stumbles as Chip using his wheelchair pins him into a corner. “Umm son I wasn’t going to leave you ….” the boy pushes the wheelchair painfully against his father’s legs. “What happened to Mr. Fullerton dad?” ignoring his dads words all together. “He … he was jumped by some guys son. Now why are you so jumpy backup and I will take care of you. I was not going to leave you out here.” Chip glances down the corridor to where the others are gathered. “Dad was he hurt … injured.” Hunching his shoulders leaning forward Chip meets his father’s gaze. “Define injured dad.” Ben Jr. continues his interrogation. “Uh he said he was bitten son on his arm and hand. He was bleeding from what I could see son. Now explain yourself Junior.” The boy reaches forward pulling his father down by his shirt and whispers into his ear. “Dad you know you can’t let Mr. Fullerton back in here right?” Ben draws back glaring at his child “Please son … what the hell are you talking about?!” Ben’s forehead creases in frustration. “He was bit dad come on you know what happens next.” Ben throws his hands up in anger and exasperation. “ … Mr. Fullerton’s been bit he’s gonna turn into a zombie dad!” Benjamin James stares down at his son words refusing to part his lips.
Things are starting to get crazy for The James family. Carl Fullerton a neighbor shows up with his family. Carl has been bitten and is leaving his family while he runs off to the ER. What's worse is Ben Jr. Seems to think there's an underlying reason why they shouldn't let Carl back into the house. What is the revelation and is Chip right to be leery of Carl?
Comeback the week of September 9th to find out.
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