Authors: Lee Thomas
Also by Sheldon Friend
The Event: The Beginning (Coming soon)
The Event: Expansion (Coming soon)
Copyright © 2014 Sheldon Friend
All rights reserved.
I would like to thank my fellow shipmates. My time in the Navy was one of the best periods of my life. Please keep in mind that any errors in ship geography and capabilities were intentional to maintain operational security for those still at sea, or just my bad memory. I also want to thank my family for putting up with me while I wrote this. One last thank you goes to everyone who allowed me to use their name in the book. I hope it meets your expectations of it.
Written from Aug 6, 2014 to Oct 26, 2014
Aug. 27, 2020
Zombies, infected, mutants. That’s the best terms we've be able to come up with. It's been over two years since the virus first made its appearance. We have estimated the total loss was about 80% of the population of the planet. We are lucky. At least we know there are survivors elsewhere, and we have managed to contact them, so we're not alone. Small comfort for some.
I shut my journal with a sigh. Admiral Sheldon Friend. I didn't ask for this title, but the people I saved looked to me for leadership, and getting to this ship was my plan. The sailors that stayed on board were a blessing, as they were a good mix of skills, and since none of them wanted the responsibility, they were more than willing to give me the title. At least the job came with decent quarters.
Setting down my coffee mug, I walked out of my quarters and headed up to the bridge, where the day crew should have just taken over. Walking up the stairs I could hear the daily reports being given by the off going crew.
"Morning Admiral." greets me as I walk into the bridge.
"Morning all, I assume it was an uneventful night?" I ask.
"Nothing to report, all was quiet. No Mindless, mutants, or otherwise." reports Captain Jeff Neal, my trusted second in command, or CO, as the sailors called him, since I put him in charge of the ship.
"Good, good, I like those nights. What's the plan for today Capt.?" I asked, knowing the titles irritated him as much as they did me.
"A few hunting parties, meat is getting low. Radar, sonar, and radio all report no contacts overnight. Our beacon is still broadcasting, but no replies." replied Jeff.
"Any reports from the Oklahoma City?" I asked. The 'Oklahoma City' was our submarine we had acquired with the help of the sailors onboard. It was docked next to a bridge where the bay emptied into the ocean. Their job was to watch for any ships coming towards us.
"Nothing, no sonar contact other than a few biologicals, but they confirmed them to be sea life of one form or another."
"Good. Isn't today the officers meeting?"
"Yes, at 1000."
"Great, I just so love those," I said sarcastically, earning a laugh from the bridge crew. "I'm going down to the galley. Page me if anything happens."
"Yes sir.” Jeff answered, just as sarcastic. We had been friends so long we considered each other brothers, and treated each other as such.
I took the ladder well all the way down to the hangar deck, three massive open rooms that used to store all the aircraft on the ship, the U.S.S. Nimitz, CVN-68. Everyone dropped the U.S.S part now, since countries didn't really exist anymore. The aircraft had all been removed, so now it was used to store the 6 modified RV's that had brought the original group here, along with a few of our vehicles. Other than the flight deck, this was my favorite part of the ship. Everyone came through here at least once a day, if nothing else than for the fact it was the same deck the galley was on.
Stepping out into Hangar Bay 2, I saw several people gathering around elevator four getting ready for the hunting party missions. While some hydroponics had been accomplished in some of the old missile storage bays, with things like potatoes, green beans, carrots, and other assorted vegetables, meat could not just be grown like that, which meant it was usually in short supply. We also had the base secured, which meant we had a small amount of land for gardening, which helped with the vegetables, and we had a small orchard for apples, and one for oranges. We also had a small livestock area, with a few chickens for eggs, and occasionally a cow was able to be butchered, or a pig. Watching the preparations for a moment, I eventually turned and walked towards the bow passageways, where the galley was located.
Crossing through Bay 1, the most forward hangar bay, I could already hear the sounds coming from the galley before I even got into the passageway. Breakfast was in full swing. Even though food was rationed, everyone still felt like it was enough, which was something I was thankful for. I did not want to have to deal with explaining why.
After getting my tray, and waving off several attempts by others to let me bump in line, I got my food, no more than anyone else, found an empty seat and sat. Chatting and eating, there was usually quite a bit of noise in the galley, even though the ship was nowhere near the capacity it could hold. There were only 244 sailors left aboard with about another 250 civilians when we showed up 2 years ago in the RV's, and I only had 186 with me. We have since added on survivors here and there, in ones, and twos, or tens. A few times we had found large survivor groups and brought them back. The ship was designed to hold around 6,000 crew. We had almost 2,000 on board and on the base. At least there was plenty of space.
Finishing my breakfast, I stood and took my empty tray to the washing station. I spotted Michelle heading out, so I caught up with her. We then both headed back up towards the Ready Rooms, meeting rooms where the old flight crews would hold meetings, schedule flights, etc. Now they were used for officers meetings, and to hold the various electronic equipment we had brought and set up. There were night vision cameras set up all along the hull, tucked under the overhang of the flight deck, so the pier could be watched from inside. One room held the monitors. They weren’t needed much anymore though since the base itself was secure as well. Another held the weather radar equipment we had acquired from a local news station, as well as the duty station of two weathermen we had been lucky to find. Several others had been trained how to read and interpret the data from them as well, so we had a full weather team.
Ready Room 5, the closest to the ladder well leading to the bridge, was set aside for the officers meetings. Since the sailors had insisted on my being called Captain, I called upon my own Navy experience and assigned people as officers of certain areas. They were my trusted few, whose skills in those areas helped make this plan work. I had originally included some of the original sailors in that group, but they all eventually opted out of it, or switched to other jobs. Once we acquired more ships, and secured the base, I was in charge of more than one command in the sailors' eyes, so they upped me to Admiral. The title stuck, no matter how much I tried to downplay it. Already waiting were most of the people called to the meeting. Commander Michelle Friend, my ex-wife and Mess Officer walked in with me. She was an awesome cook and meal planner, so she was in charge of the galley. Commander Valerie James, her cousin, was great at organizing, so she was Personnel Officer. She made sure everyone had bunks; families stayed together if possible, and made sure laundry ran smoothly. Lieutenant Commander Vince James, Val's husband, was Army medical trained, so he was Medical Liaison; he reported on sickbay, and all things medical. We had two full doctors when we arrived, so they were actually in charge down there, but Vince made the reports. Commander Tony Nelson, my old Navy buddy, was my Security Chief. He made sure nothing that attacked the ship or base made it through. He scheduled the guards, ran drills, and also policed the ship if any disagreements took place, which rarely happened. Commander Roger Powell, my longtime friend, was the Operations Officer; he monitored the weather reports, as well as outside operations, like the hunting parties. Commander Jenna Wright, my sister, was Recreation Officer. She seemed good at sensing the mood of the crew. The Engineering Officer, Commander Shayne Stephens, was responsible for the power plant, and all machinery on board. Captain Dave Crow, the CO of the base, was also there. He was in charge of the base operations. The only person missing from the meeting was Jeff, the CO of the ship itself, who would be down soon.
"Morning all." I said as I went straight for the coffee. Thank god we could still get that, for now. We were attempting to grow coffee beans, but not having much luck so far. After a chorus of good mornings, and small talk, Jeff strode in, took his place, and we began.
"So we don't waste a lot of time, does anyone have any new or special needs that need to be taken care of?" I asked. I hated these meetings, as did most of them, but they assured that everything ran smooth, food was available, and everyone was safe. We didn’t hold them often.
"We are, like always, short on meat." Michelle said.
"Hunting parties are going out today, so that should be rectified soon." I told her.
"We are low on certain types of ammo, so some weapons are being rotated out." Tony stated. Security, and food, were always foremost in our minds.
"We are tracking a storm front building to the west, looks like it will hit us if it makes it over the mountains." Roger said.
"When would it get here, if it makes it?"
"Around midnight tonight, maybe one o'clock."
"Keep me posted." I said, "Dave, how's the base?"
"Good. Crops are growing fine, and the animals are doing well. Fence line reports no breaks, all inspections are good. Pumps are working fine, solar panels seem to be keeping the batteries charged. No reports of water or sewer line blockages."
Nothing new from any of the others, so we decided to break up, and go about our own daily duties. Unless there was a crisis, or group decision to be made, I just walked around the ship most days, as everything ran smoothly usually. Jeff ran the day to day stuff on the ship, much better than I could. I stopped in on the laundry room, the few men in sickbay recovering from one thing or another, then back up to the Recreation Officer office. Jenna always posted the next few movies to be playing, available time on the pool tables we had, and made sure there were none who abused the rights to them. Everyone was to have a fair chance of using our recreational tools. Downtime was important. Eventually I headed back up to the flight deck. I liked standing near the bow, just listening to the wind. I didn't get to do it often.
I went back inside to the captain's ready room, a small office across the hall from my quarters, where I could review reports and monitor the status of the ship without having to be on the bridge. I preferred it because I could be alone with my thoughts, run ideas around my head, make plans and adjustments without having to worry about interruptions, for the most part. Checking the section reports, I noticed that the engineers were again asking for more people to train to help run the nuclear engines, water purification systems, air filtration, and all the necessary systems that kept this ship livable, especially during those times when we had to shut it up completely. Everyone was thankful that the ship was designed to pull water in from the sea, purify it, and turn it into drinkable water so we never had to worry about going thirsty. It also meant we had hot showers, running toilets, and clean clothes. Things few had anymore.
I also used this time to check maps. We had maps from before the Event, and the carrier was still thankfully connected to some satellite surveillance, so we had recent pictures to make sure it hasn't changed much. There was a plan I was trying to put into place to give us all plenty of space, room to grow, the ability to grow food, raise cattle, live better than on a ship. It all banked on 8 bridges. Only 8 bridges being either fortified or destroyed and we would have the entire peninsula that compromised parts of Delaware and Maryland. An area 170 miles long by 70 miles wide. Enough land for everyone to spread, start farms, have somewhat of a normal life again. Just 8 bridges, and who knew how many infected.
I knew we could do it, we have the tools, we have the manpower, we have a few who are trained enough to do it. That is my ultimate plan after all. This is how I spend my days mostly; planning, thinking. Trying my best to provide a future, a safe place for people. My phone rang. Crap, that usually meant there was a problem.
"Admiral, we have a new weather update. Commander Powell said that the new models say it is growing in strength and speed, and we can expect the storm front to hit just after nightfall." Obviously one of the sailors was on duty right now, as they were the only ones who insisted on calling me admiral, and using the ranks I gave my friends. That's what I get for trying to streamline things.
"Thank you for the update. And please stop calling me Admiral, it's Sheldon. And he prefers Roger to commander." I said for probably the hundredth time this week. I knew it wouldn't change though.
"Yes sir." said the sailor. I hung up the phone, and thought about it. A storm at night would force us to go to 'storm stations', which means all outside ship guards would be pulled in, and the flight deck cleared of anything not bolted down or secured. The base guards would also not be patrolling, only watching from the wall and towers. Well, there are still a few hours to decide on that.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully. A few hours before sunset I received a page to the bridge. Making my way up there, I debated with myself what it could be for. I assumed a weather report.
"Sir, two things," the officer on duty, or OOD, said as I walked in, "First, the storm has intensified, and will hit us in about 3 hours. Second, there are people at the gate. They appear uninfected. The snipers spotted them about 15 minutes ago."