The Broken Chain

The Broken Chain

by Ernest Duval Jr

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491741214
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/31/2014
Pages: 110
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.26(d)

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The Broken Chain


By Ernest Duval Jr.

iUniverse

Copyright © 2014 Ernest Duval Jr.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-4121-4


CHAPTER 1

"Good morning," Jason said as I met him at the gate of my backyard. Looking at him standing there reminded me of how the past several days had taken its toll on everyone. Although Jason still maintained the physique of his high school years, his face appeared weathered and worn beyond his age of 49 years. Seeing him made me wonder exactly how much older I appeared; as I was the same age as Jason.

Death was usually something you ran into several times in your lifetime; not normally several times in a day, but this was the new life that we had become accustomed to. Every day when we walked out our front doors we had to be on guard for what may be lurking around the corner. Normal worries of how to pay bills or getting to work on time no longer existed. The biggest worry was how to stay alive to see the sunrise of the next day.

I had always tried to keep my body in shape, but the past couple of weeks had taken its toll on me. Drained from a lack of sleep, due to countless nights having recurring nightmares and endless days guarding myself, my family, and my associates from them was wearing me down. I was constantly asking myself how long could we stay alive and what were we fighting for?

"Joseph, are you all right?" Jason asked, snapping me back to reality from my thoughts.

"Yeah I was just thinking," I replied looking at him over the gate as I put my hand on the gate latch to open it. I didn't want to bother him with how disturbing my thoughts had been.

"I have got the trailer hooked to the truck to load the bull in and two guys to go with us," Jason said, as I walked out of my yard.

We walked over to the truck and I climbed into the passenger seat while Jason went around and climbed into the driver seat. Our two friends were sitting in the backseat in silence. I listened as the diesel engine cranked up. We drove out of the parking lot of the gas station and restaurant that were built next door to my home. As we pulled onto the highway I took notice of how desolate everything looked. There was no traffic, whatsoever, as far as I could see to my right or left.

"Warm this morning isn't it," Jason said as he looked over at me.

"Yeah," I answered back. This kind of weather was normal for us in Mississippi, ice cold for a few days and then hot as hell right after; nothing like the winters up north which seemed to arrive and stay for months. Even more dramatic during winter in Mississippi are the hellish temperatures during the day and freezing temperatures at night.

"It sure doesn't feel like winter," I replied to Jason.

"We need a good, long cold spell right about now. It would really knock out the mosquitoes that have started coming back out," he said looking at me, momentarily taking his eyes off the road.

"Jason, watch out!" I exclaimed as I saw something lying on the road at the foot of a small bridge by the guard rail. Slamming his foot on the brakes didn't help; as I felt the front of the truck go up then back down and then heard the thumping sound of road kill hitting the bottom of the truck. Whatever it was that we ran over was still under the middle of the truck. I knew this because the back tires never rolled over it.

"What did I hit?" Jason asked as he opened his door. I opened my door at the same time to take a look at what was under the truck.

"I don't know but let's take a look and see," I said as I stuck my foot out the door and let it drop to the ground below. This was my first mistake of the day, because something grabbed a hold of my ankle as soon as my foot touched the ground.

"Son of a bitch," I exclaimed, not knowing what had grabbed a hold of me.

"What's wrong?" Jason asked as he was stepping out of the truck on the other side.

"Something has me by the foot," I said as I shook my foot relentlessly trying to break away from whatever was grasping my ankle. All the shaking did not help. The thing holding my ankle had a grasp like I had never felt before. It was like having my foot in a vice and it had no intentions of letting go.

Jason reached back into the truck and grabbed his rifle. It was not wise to leave home without weapons for protection under these circumstances. Guns were the most convenient as well as easily accessible since we lived in the country. Jason headed toward my side of the truck.

"Shit," I heard Jason exclaim as he arrived on my side of the truck. Lowering my left foot out of the truck I now had 2 feet on the ground and was able to look down at my right foot. I watched Jason lower his rifle and take aim under the truck. Looking up at him I watched as his finger pulled back on the trigger and I listened as the rifle fired. The gunshot echoed in my head for a few moments. As I leaned back against the truck, the grasp of the predator slowly subsided and let go.

"Let me see your foot," Jason said looking at me. He bent down to look, and untied my shoe. He pulled my shoe off, along with my sock, and I could feel a slight throbbing in my foot from the grip that my predator had on it. "No bites or scratches," Jason exclaimed.

"What the hell was that?" I asked as I looked down at a hand poking out from under the truck, on my side.

"One of them," Jason exclaimed, pointing down at the hand that I had already seen. I then reached down and put my sock and shoe back on and stepped outward from the truck. I could make out a shabby dress and a part of a face of what used to be a young lady, probably in her mid-20s. There wasn't a lot left of her between the damage the truck had done and the rifle shell Jason had fired at close range. From the rotting flesh I could tell she had been dead approximately a week.

"Not a good way to start the morning off," I said, looking at Jason. "Let's go, we will clean her up when we get back," I said as I climbed back into the truck.

Rabid dead, rabid dog, the zombie's, living or dead, no matter what you called them; they were our enemies. Being good and loving human beings before or not, these things were all that was left of them after the sickness had gotten to them.

We drove to the next driveway, about a quarter of a mile, and turned onto the road to my father's house. My property and my father's property butted against one another, but our quarry was towards the front of this property by the highway. About 300 feet into the field I spotted our quarry; the most majestic bull my father had on the property. We pulled up about 20 feet away from the bull pinning him between the truck and the tree line. He couldn't get into the tree line through the hog wire and barbed wire.

"The bull is pretty docile isn't he?" Jason remarked as he shut the truck off.

"The best bull my father ever bought, the most calm cool and collective as they would say," I replied to Jason's remark. "I'll put a rope on him and bring it through the cattle trailer to pull him into it," I said as I took the rope in my hand and continued my remark, "and you go around behind him and push him in."

The bull was so tame that I effortlessly put the rope around his neck and moved into the trailer passing the rope through the trailer window. I exited through the same window and passed the rope through a ring below the window outside of the trailer. I then began tugging on the rope with the bull moving forward as I tugged. The bull was very tame but still did not like close quarters. It then became a tug-of-war between me and the bull; and the bull was obviously winning. I did not realize the rope that was dragging the ground had made a noose around my right shoe. It was only moments before the stench hit me as I was still pulling against the weight of the bull. I glanced around and saw nothing that was creating the putrid odor; an unbearable stench. Suddenly my right foot was being yanked off the ground as the bull gave a sudden jerk to the rope. The bruising from the earlier predator on my foot now gave way to a new pain.

I could hear a thud in my ears as my head hit the ground. Clenching my eyes shut, the pain made the raunchy smell even more unbearable. Still holding my eyes closed I could see my father in my mind and hear him say, "How many times have I told you to never let a rope get under your feet or around them when working with cattle?" Suddenly my shoe made it to the ring where it jammed the bull's backward momentum, bringing me back to reality as the pain made its way from my foot to my brain.

"Shit!" I hollered as I opened my eyes to what was now going on. I could just see Jason around the back of the cattle trailer using his rifle to whip the bull's hindquarters to push him forward, constantly hollering, "Git bull, git in the trailer you stubborn son of a bitch". Reaching up with both hands and grasping my leg, I tried my best to pull my foot loose. I glanced to my left and saw the other guys retrieving their rifles from the truck, and again I pulled as hard as I could with my hands on my leg. The pain was becoming unbearable. It was also at that point that I realized the unbearable smell was coming from the wood line area and could be only one thing, them; the rabids. Suddenly shots rang out; echoing as if coming from everywhere.

"They are coming out of the wood line!" One of the guys hollered.

"Shit!" came out of my mouth again as I reached for my pistol in a holster on my hip, but it wasn't there. Looking on the ground to my right I saw nothing, and then I looked to my left. The pistol was lying about 3 feet away. Reaching for it I realized my restraint, the rope, kept me inches away from my gun. I turned my attention back to the rope, and the bull that was in control of the other end.

"Git your stupid ass self in the trailer!" I could hear Jason exclaim as I turned in time to see him pushing his weight against the bull, who finally gave into Jason's bellyaching. I watched as the bull's legs suddenly moved forward and this movement gave slack to the rope. The pain in my foot eased up some as the rope loosened. I turned my attention to untying the rope from my foot.

"Joseph!" I heard someone holler, taking my attention off of my foot. I looked up to my left and saw what looked like Lorel, my wife, in the distance by my father's house. "Lorel," I yelled.

"Joseph!" a voice hollered again, but this time looking to my right I could just see Jason's head around the back of the trailer looking over at me. "Hurry up and get your foot out, we have problems out here!" Jason exclaimed.

This time my complete attention was on my foot and I realized I had tennis shoes on. Grasping at the strings I pulled the rope and it gave way. I pulled with both my hands on my leg and suddenly my foot escaped from my shoe and the vice it was in. I could feel the blood returning to my leg and foot as I lay on the ground, I dragged myself toward my pistol and retrieved it.


"Joseph, behind you," hollered one of the guys from the front of the truck. I twisted myself around to find a tall figure to my left. I looked up to see his decomposing face then aimed at what was left of his rotting fore head and pulled the trigger several times. I heard the weight of his body hit the ground with the same noise mine had made earlier.

"Shit," came out of my mouth for the third time, as I lay there face to face only a couple of feet away from the rabid. His facial muscles were pulled back exposing his teeth and what was left of his gums, looking like a mad dog. White foamy saliva dangling all over his mouth was actually all that was left of his decomposing mouth. If he was capable of breathing, the stench of his breath could not have been fouler than his own odor of decomposition. I hollered, "Shit", again as I jumped to my feet and the pain in my foot hit me real quick. Several more shots rang out around me.

"Joseph, I need some help back here," Jason exclaimed from the rear of the trailer. I limped my way over to him and put my weight against the rear of the bull along with Jason. The bull slowly gave up his resistance and climbed into the trailer. Jason hurriedly slammed the doors of the trailer and latched them closed. It was at this point that the smell suddenly hit me again. I turned away from Jason just in time to empty my stomach onto the ground. With the smell and the rabids around, I couldn't blame the bull for acting up.

"Hurry, let's get in the truck and get the hell out of here," Jason said to me and the two men that stood by the truck. As we climbed in the truck I looked over at Jason and said, "I need to check on Lorel".

"Why?" Jason asked as he looked at me with a puzzled look on his face. He really looked completely confused at the prospect of checking on Lorel.

"I thought I saw her in the field a little ways from the old man's house," I replied.

"Believe me, she's not outside," he said. Then he cranked the truck, put it in gear, and finished his remark, "but I will check on her just to ease your mind".

"How's your head," asked one of the men in the backseat. I had totally forgotten about the fall at this point along with the pain in my head and foot. But now the lack of adrenaline brought the pain back quickly. With my hand I rubbed along on the back of my head noticing a lump that was rather large and it really hurt.

"You probably got a mild concussion," Jason exclaimed as he looked over at me and continued with, "we'll drop you off at the house and let one of the ladies check your head and foot".

"I'm not going to argue with you," I said as I sat there with my head in my hands. We pulled up in front of the house and when I got out Jason said, "I'll get the bull into the field and be back in a little while". I then walked in the house with my head and ankle both throbbing.

"Are you all right?" one of the ladies asked as I walked in the house.

"Just hit my head on the ground and have one really bad headache," I replied.

"Let's check that out," she said as she escorted me to the sofa, where I sat down in the living room. Making me feel like I was at the doctor's office getting a checkup or something, she washed her hands. "You probably have a pretty good concussion from this and I wish a real doctor could look at it but we don't have any," she said. "I am pretty sure you do have a concussion. Try not to go to sleep for a few hours." This was an older woman in her 60s and pretty much knew what she was talking about. She gave me a couple of aspirin for the pain.

"Do I take these and call you in the morning," I said laughing. She laughed back.

"No but we do need to check out your foot also. I saw you limping when you came in," she said. Then reached down and grabbed my foot to pull my sock off. She shook her head all the while she was looking at it. Apparently she did not like what she saw.

"So what's it look like Doc," I asked trying to lighten the mood.

"You look like you bruised this up pretty well and we don't have any ace bandages to put on it," she said then she reached down to put my sock back on my foot and looked up at me. "You really ought to try to keep some weight off of this foot, but I know that you won't," she said looking at me with a smile on her face. "It doesn't appear broken but is well bruised and probably sprained. Try to keep some of the weight off of it and take care of your head."

"Good, it sounds like I'm in great shape," I said as I got up and limped my way to the bedroom to get another pair of shoes. Entering my room, I saw Lorel sitting in the corner.

"Are you all right?" She asked.

"Sure baby," I replied as I opened the closet and reached in to get a pair of shoes. Then I closed the closet and walked to the dresser, grabbed a pair of socks, and closed the drawer. I sat down on the floor, pulled my other shoe off, and put on fresh socks and boots.

"These grass stains will never come out," I said as I looked at the sock I had taken off my foot. "I love you, Lorel," I said as I leaned forward to kiss her on the head after I stood back up.

"I love you too," she replied, as she looked up at me with a look of concern on her face. "Do you feel okay?" she asked after we kissed.

"Awe yeah, I feel great," I replied, lying to her and myself. I then turned and headed for the bedroom door and turned around after I opened it and said to her, "I'll be back later, I love you," then walked out the door. Just as I was closing the door I heard her say, "I love you too."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Broken Chain by Ernest Duval Jr.. Copyright © 2014 Ernest Duval Jr.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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