I’m also working on a zombie book. #4 in the Time of Zombies series; Zombies in the Grass.
The heroine is Willa Zara, a soldier in what is left of the U.S. Army and hero Danny Lopez, the Robin Hood of the Sierra Nevada foothills with a band of children he is saving from conscription into the army.
Summer 0002 A.Z. (After Zombies)
Camp Natomas, California
1300 hours. Last circuit of camp done for morning rounds. Three altercations stopped. One over water rations and two over fraternization with camp population. Pvt. Williams sent to Isolation bunker for instigating the incident. Captain Willa Zara
I threw my pen down, wincing as it broke, ink spattering across the table. At least it was blue, and not the red splattered over the sidewalk in the last fight this morning. The two privates had been arguing over the services of one of the civilian women. Right?! Why couldn’t they call it what it was—rape? The men were using the holding camp as their own personal brothel. Reports to the higher-ups were being ignored, or I feared, the behavior condoned to keep the men in the forced service.
“Captain Zara?” a voice whispered at my open door. “There are new arrivals at the gates.”
“Orders are to turn all refugees away, send them to Sacramento,” I replied, not bothering to turn around in my chair. I’d told Private Solares enough times for her to remember.
“This group is being escorted by our guys.”
Slamming my chair under the desk, I grabbed my cap and followed the teenaged soldier to the front gates. I skidded to a stop. These weren’t refugees. They were too well-fed and clean for one, even the small children. They looked like a road trip from before the virus. For the other, defiance shone in their eyes. They hadn’t been brought willingly to the camp. These were holdouts, defying the Governor’s Orders. Even in our far outpost we’d heard of the rebels on the river, encamped in an old hotel. They’d held out against the army for over eighteen months.
A tall man in army-issue camouflage stood in the front of the group. Anyone could get camo gear these days from army surplus and sporting goods stores, but this man wore his like a badge of honor. Along with the buzz-cut and ramrod stance, he screamed career army.
I pressed my arm to my side, two seconds away from saluting him. Until I got the lay of the land, so to speak, he was a prisoner of war.
I sighed deeply. We could use someone like him, but they were being brought in as hostiles. The delta region had been swept clean, down the river, and through every small slough, and only the microscopic town of Ryde had managed to fend off the radio orders for over a year to join the army or die. My heart fell to the pit of my stomach, bile roiling. Too much killing. Too much everything. We had to make him, and his group fall in line. With the lack of grown soldiers under my command, I didn’t have a choice. Our numbers stood two to one for forced versus enlisted from the before time. More disgruntled rumblings and we would fall apart on our own, without an incursion of the undead.
“Commander Jack Canida,” the man barked as a line formed to process them in.