Children's Crusade
Chapter 5

Copyright© 2011 by carioca

Jeremy sat cross-legged on the floor next to the driver and opened his laptop. What he wanted to do was take Bobbi-Jo in his arms and tell her everything would be all right. His fingers shook as he typed. He found where they were on the map, then ran a search for emergency rooms. "Mr. Martin." He said, looking up at the driver. "Take the next exit and turn right, there's a clinic with an emergency room about five miles from the off ramp."

He opened a new window, and went to his favorite search engine. There he found hundreds of links to rioters and cannibals both. He opened several likely pages, and scanned them for information. He read relevant details aloud. "FEMA says to evacuate to designated relocation centers, but the CDC says to stay in your homes. The president has declared Martial Law over the whole country. Riots practically everywhere, Japan, China, Europe. Some Homeland Security guy says it's a terrorist attack with drugs, CDC says it's flu virus victims going delusional." He looked up into the horrified eyes looking at him. "Some reports that they're already dead." He turned it over in his mind. "That guy, he should have been dead, his insides hanging out like that. He didn't flinch when I broke his nose. That may be shock I guess, but I don't think so. Broken nose like that should have bled all over."

Alex looked down to the blood on the bat in his hands. "I know I broke the big guy's arm and ribs." He looked faintly green. "He didn't even notice."

Jeremy opened some more pages. He felt the blood drain out of his face. He didn't read it aloud, only held it up so Alex and Jenny could read it for themselves. "The captions under the pictures on the right. I just hope it's not true." The pictures were of bite wounds, the accompanying text told a horrifying story. People who were bitten by one of the cannibals turned into one of them. According to the article it was one hundred percent, twenty-three of twenty-three subjects changed, all within twenty hours. He looked at Mr. Grant. The science teacher had his head back and eyes closed.

Jenny handed him back the computer. "When we get back, we need to go straight home. As soon as Billy gets back that is. Alex, can you take us?"

Alex didn't even hesitate. "Of course."

Jeremy nodded. "Yeah that way mom doesn't have to come get us, thanks Alex. I'm going to check email, see if there's anything from dad. There wasn't this morning." There wasn't anything from his dad, nothing in the 'family' email either. Before he finished checking, a warning screen popped up. He was at less than ten percent power. Jeremy shut down with a sigh, zipped it up and slid it behind the drivers seat where it wouldn't get stepped on or kicked. He knelt up next to the driver. "If we pass Clay Creek Road, we've gone too far, the map said it was on the right."

They drove into a small town past a glass fronted supermarket. All the windows were smashed, and armed men loaded a truck with food. There was a police officer there, lights flashing. He just watched. Four more cops and some civilians emptied a gun store as they drove past. One of the cops tried to wave them down, but Mr. Martin pretended not to notice. The streets were strange, no pedestrians, very little traffic, but that wasn't too unusual. What made the difference was the gunfire in the distance. Twice before they reached the little hospital, Jeremy spotted bodies in the street.

The bus pulled into the parking lot, but couldn't even get close to the emergency entrance. Dozens of cars blocked the way. There were a few ambulances mixed in, along with a couple of police cars. Mr. Martin parked away from the tangle, and shut down the bus, leaving the keys in the ignition. "You kids stay on the bus," he said. "I'll be back as soon as I get Mr. Grant checked in." He nodded to Mrs. St. Clair, who was still busy trying to call her husband. He was a deputy in the sheriff's department, so she should have been able to at least leave him a message. Mr. Martin helped the science teacher into the hospital. Alex shut the door behind them, and tried the radio with no success.

Message ... The word tickled the back of Jeremy's brain. There was something he'd read about emergencies and messages. "That's it! Mrs. St. Clair, try sending him a text message."

She looked at him like he was speaking Greek. "What?"

"Send him a text message, it uses a different system than a regular phone call. Jenny, borrow a phone and send something to mom." He helped Mrs. St. Clair send a message, then settled down to wait. A pickup truck dropped off half a dozen people. They helped each other inside and the pickup sped away. Later, two police cars drove up, lights flashing. The cops ran inside, carrying shotguns. Moments later, shots were fired inside the hospital.

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