The James John Daniels Stories, Story Four: Sherman’s Drive to the Sea
Jimmy lay in bed naked next to this girl he just met a week ago thinking about his treehouse. Just a month ago, his world had seemed to end as they buried his father after he was killed in an accident on his way home. James “Jimmy” John Daniels was born in and lived all his fifteen years in the small town of Hinesburg, Ohio near the town of Lodi pronounced like Low die. He was just days away from turning fifteen, but that thought was miles away from where he was right there and then. Jenny was the first girl he ever kissed, and that kiss became something more. In the back of his mind, he could hear his mother’s disappointment in what Jenny, and he was doing, but he could also see how she died with an antler in her back. Her death paled in comparison to his sister Barbra. Barb was torn apart by a pair of smart deer. A month ago, he had a father, a week ago he had a family and now all he had was this girl and himself.
Jenny stirred in bed. She reached down and felt him and smiled. Jenny wasn’t shy about what she wanted. Her father was a General, and her mother was a doctor. When the world ended, they lost contact with her mother, who was the acting chief of medicine for a hospital in Huston. Days before the deer struck her father had sent is formal notice to the joint chiefs looking to retire so he could be with his wife in Texas. Jenny had just turned sixteen and was living with him, helping him to pack for the permanent move. She couldn’t remember a time when they lived as a whole family, and she knew it would only last until she went off to college or join the military. Jenny didn’t tell her parents she had already spoken to a recruiter about the Marines. Her air force father wouldn’t be happy about that, nor would her former Army mother.
Just outside their room, Jenny and Jimmy could hear something going on. They had a room without a window making the room feel like a jail cell or the closet it was. A thumping sound started. Jenny got out of bed and put on a long-sleeve shirt going to the door. She opened the door and saw that man whose name she couldn’t remember and Doctor Diana. Jimmy came up behind her, and together, they saw an apocalyptic sight. The sky was filled with Canada geese. Over the last few days, the air force base they were in was attacked by waves of geese, but this was so many geese that they almost blocked out the rising sun. Jenny went to the window and saw the fences were being assaulted by thousands of deer. The deer were pushing the fences down and would be through them soon.
Not a Toy
The two kids went into their room and got dressed. Jimmy grabbed his rifle, and Jenny went for the gun her father gave her. Jenny had an M4 straight from the armory. Unlike most of her friends, Jenny went hunting with her father from an early age. Jessie wanted his daughter to understand the totality of taking a life and why a gun isn’t a toy. He also wanted his daughter to be strong, but strength wasn’t something you can teach; it had to come from within with experience and just maybe hardship. Jenny was ten when she shot her first deer. She was all business when she field dressed the deer and helped as her father carried it to their truck. That night far away from her father, Jenny cried. It was the last time she cried after killing a deer even as she felt terrible about killing something that seemed so majestic.
The geese started to commit suicide into the building smashing into the walls and glass. Jenny remembered the upper floors had bars on the windows, so they went up hoping to escape the geese. The man and Diana started to toss chairs into the stairwell. Jimmy started to push a vending machine over to the stairs, and with the help of everyone, they pushed it into the stairwell blocking anything from getting up or down. A massive explosion sent off just outside. Then another. The group looked out and saw the buildings being used as labs were gone. The only reason Jenny’s father was keeping the base open was gone. A missile flew overhead and into a crowd of deer, sending flames and chunks of deer into the air. A few more missiles struck the geese spreading flames across the sky.
Terminator 3 spoilers
A missile struck the ground sending more deer parts into the air. The wave of geese turned away, and toward the east, in the direction, the missiles. Four men with ancient-looking flamethrowers came around a corner shooting flames into the panicking deer. About fifteen minutes after the attack began, it was over. One of the men with a flamethrower put his gear down and took off his flame-retardant hood showing it was Jenny’s father. He waved them down, but the stairs were impassable. The man with Diana said there was a fire escape on the other side of the building. They went down having to stop near the bottom to force the last part of the ladder down after years of non-use.
At the bottom, Jenny’s father gave her a set of keys with a small notebook. He told them he needed someone he could trust to go to a secret facility, and when it was time, unlock the weapon. Jenny didn’t know what the weapon could be, but she could tell her father was serious and desperate. Jimmy was thinking about the end of the third terminator movie were the heroes were tricked by the good terminator into a fallout shelter just before the world ended. Jenny’s father assigned eight men to help them get to Atlanta, Georgia. He told them to go to the eastern gate where they should find a captain named Simon Sherman. He would oversee the operation, but he wasn’t to have the key. Jenny wasn’t sure if she would ever see her father again.
Rex and Dot on a Hill
An hour later, they were in what Captain Sherman called an armored car. Jenny was a military brat, and she knew it was an M1117 armored security vehicle with twin fifty-caliber machine guns mounted in the turret. Still, she didn’t want to give this man more information than he needed. His first act before they left was to try and disarm her and Jimmy. He then tried to take the key away. The vehicle was built for eight plus two drivers, but after an hour, the body odor started to make the cabin foul. The captain laid out his map, pointing out places where they should be able to get the fuel the vehicle would need along with supplies. A corporal named Haskins called it Sherman’s march to the sea accept they wouldn’t be destroying everything they find along the way. The lack of military discipline shocked Jenny, but Jimmy was just happy they could keep their guns.
They passed a burning house with bodies on the ground nearby. On a hill overseeing the fiery scene were two dogs. A dog that looked like a stubby Marmaduke and an oversized white puffball watched them as they drove southeast. To Jimmy, the dog looked like the one that sacrificed itself to save him, but that dog must have died. There was something otherworldly about the dogs, but Jimmy couldn’t put words to what he thought. Jimmy leaned over and kissed Jenny on the cheek. She turned back to him and wished him a happy birthday. Ten minutes later, the vehicle was filled with the sounds of nine people singing happy birthday. The mood of the group changed, turning the trip from a Baton death march to an adventure into the unknown if the unknown had highways and road signs. A soldier asked where they were going. The captain said they were going to Atlanta. The soldier looked back and said, “so this is Sherman’s drive to the sea.” The person behind the wheel replied, “I hope not, Atlanta isn’t near the water.”
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© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron