Jack opened his eyes, for a moment, he forgot where he was. When the fresh fragrance of lavender wafted into his nostrils, he smiled. He was waking up in Sarah’s bed. Looking around the room, past the sheer fabric draped over the canopy of the bed, he wondered what she thought, planned and wished. He rolled over and wondered what it would be like to have her there in bed beside him.
“Jack,” Clare shouted through the bedroom door. “We need to head out soon.”
Jack moaned. “Thanks for the gentle wake-up call.”
“You’re welcome,” Clare said as she walked back down the hall.
After taking a somewhat cold shower in the upstairs bathroom, Jack went downstairs where Tony and Clare were dressed in camouflage and drinking coffee at the dining room table. He walked into the kitchen and returned with a steaming cup of coffee. “Do we have a plan yet?”
Tony smoothed the map and pointed to the Van Buren State Park. “The state park has hundreds of acres that butt up next to Palisades. I’ll park here, you and Willis can take the beach to check out the plant from that direction, and Clare and I will take the other side.”
“What about security fences?” Jack asked as he sat down. “How are we getting around them?”
Willis walked into the room with a bowl of Frosted Flakes cereal in one hand and his short rifle in the other. “I’m getting used to this, except for when the cold barrel touches my skin when I’m trying to sleep.” He sat down at the table. Milk sloshed over the side of his bowl as he sat it and the rifle down, away from Tony’s maps. “I know how to get around the security fence.”
Jack laughed. “You do?”
“Sure, all you have to do is drape a rug over the top, get something to stand on, and then you can climb over without getting electrocuted.”
“Hmm, that might work,” Jack said. He took a sip of coffee. “How did you think of that?”
“The movie Fight Club,” Willis said with a mouth full of cereal.
“Sounds feasible,” Tony said, still leaning over the map. “General Patton said, a good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”
“Who said it was a good plan?” Jack grinned. He looked at Willis, who was eating as if he had just been rescued from a concentration camp. “You should target practice with that cold thirty-thirty before we leave.”
Willis nodded in agreement, his spoon clanking in the bowl as he finished the cereal.
“I’ll show him when we’re done here,” Tony said.
“Is there anything besides aliens and snipers that we need to be looking for?” Jack asked. He leaned back in his chair so that a shadow covered his face, keeping the bright morning light from glaring into his eyes.
“Hell if I know,” Tony said as he drew a couple circles on the map with a yellow highlighter.
“How dangerous do you think this spying mission is going to be?” Jack asked as he watched Tony focus on the unfolded paper before him as if he were a military commander deciding on what strategy to use to defeat the enemy. “I’m not worried about me, just thinking of Willis.”
“I think it’s going to be very dangerous,” Clare said, shrugging. “But what can we do? We’re talking about our survival, the survival of Earth.”
“What do we do once we cross the fence?” Jack asked, nervously tapping his finger against the side of his coffee cup.
“Before we even cross the perimeter fence we’ll see if we can spot any snipers and where the aliens are locating themselves. We can use our phones’ text messaging to communicate, so make sure they’re charged,” Clare said looking over at Jack. “Hand me the phone I gave you so that I can plug it in.”
Jack walked upstairs to get the phone Willis had left on his cluttered bedside table. After pushing aside empty pop cans and dirty dishes, he located the phone and returned to the dining room. The atmosphere was light as they made plans and laughed at things like Jack getting on Willis’s case about his messy room and Clare telling Tony she was glad he took a shower. Otherwise, the aliens would smell them coming. For a while that morning, things seemed manageable, or at least tolerable.
Then Jack’s cell phone rang. “Jack, this is Father Mitch.”
“Hi, Father, what’s up?”
“I just wanted to see how everyone’s doing and to let you know that I’m praying for you.”
“Thank you, Father,” Jack said. “We’re okay; we’re still at Sarah’s house getting ready to leave to stake out Palisades. How is everyone there?”
“We’re fine here,” Father said. “If you need me to help in any way, just let me know.”
“Just keep the prayers coming this way,” Jack said, then ended the call.
“I’m ready to kick some alien butt,” Willis said, excited.
“Not so fast,” Jack said, taking his empty cup to the kitchen sink. “You need to practice with that gun so they don’t kick our butts first.”
“I’m going to find what we need to get over the fence,” Willis said, picking up his gun. He went down to the basement and began walking around storage boxes and garbage bags filled with old clothes. Next to the workbench, he saw carpet remnants; they would work to drape over the top of the fence. Moving aside leftover pieces and parts from various home projects he found a utility knife toward the back of the bench, he could use it to cut the carpet to the sizes he needed.
While Willis was cutting the carpet, he heard a scraping sound outside the walkout basement door. He froze. The zombies found us, Willis thought as he raised his rifle and walked toward the door. The scratching was getting louder. Willis took the safety off his gun and continued to walk toward the sound. Unlocking the door, he reached for the knob, turned it and quickly yanked the door open. He pulled the trigger without thinking. A thunderous sound echoed through the house.
The butt of the rifle slammed against his shoulder from the recoil, causing a sharp pain that radiated up the side of his neck. But that pain was quickly replaced by shock when he saw what he had just fired at.