After the Apocalypse
Chapter 33: Lapeer by Day

by Mark Bollman--> and Steve Donohue

Charlie Landers grunted under the heavy load he was carrying. It would have been much easier to move this stuff using a truck, but there was no way the Deacon would stand for that. He couldn't believe how quickly everyone had given in to Whateley's demands, but then again, the old man was the only one who seemed able to bring order to the chaos that surrounded them.

They had no idea about other survivors, save that there were at least a few marauding bands of looters around. Deacon Whateley's own son had been killed, gunned down by some stranger, when he asked the man for help. Whateley hadn't taken the news very well. He had never seen his son's dark side and believed the boy to be a model of piety and faith. Charlie had seen Nick drunk a few times and knew differently. As far as Charlie was concerned, Nick dying was probably a good thing-he'd been nothing but a bully his whole life, throwing around his father's political power and relying on people not wanting to hurt his father's reputation to get by. The old man had never seen that side of his son; if he had things might have been different now.

When the Deacon found that his son had been shot by a couple of looters driving through town, he snapped. Like most of the townies, Whateley believed they were the victims of a nuclear holocaust. This, combined with the death of his son, had led him to decide that technology was actually the enemy. He began preaching about the Garden of Eden and how happy Man had been in those days, before there was a need for all these modern tools. He pointed to the Serpent, whose temptation of Eve had led to the need for clothing. That need, according to the Deacon, was what caused Man to turn to tools. Until then, he preached, Man had taken what he needed from nature, without any real difficulty.

He had decided that the holocaust was a sign from God and that they, like Noah, had been spared from destruction so they could repopulate the Earth. The people of Lapeer, eager for answers, had begun to listen to him. He explained that it was now their duty to undertake a journey, a great journey to the new Eden. He didn't know quite where it was, but he knew it lay to the south, for God had spoken to him and told him that he should head south.

That part at least made sense, thought Charlie. Since the Deacon's plans basically called for them to forgo all the conveniences and affectations of modern society, including clothing, they definitely couldn't stay in Michigan and hope to survive. They were now in preparation for their great journey. The Deacon had split them into two groups, the sheep and the shepherds. He believed that the shepherds were meant to guide the sheep to the promised land. They were still allowed to use tools, although the Deacon frowned on it. The more advanced the tools you used, the harder it would be to become a sheep at the end of the journey, for that was what the Deacon had foreseen. A few of them would have to put their salvation on hold to ensure the survival of the rest. Charlie was one such person; there were about a score of them in all. The rest of the flock, numbering about 100, were sheep.

The Deacon himself was a shepherd, but the only tools he still used were his Bible and his clothing. He had already given up the remaining trappings of "civilized" man and encouraged his men to do likewise. While the shepherds could theoretically have used just about anything they found, in practice they imposed many limits on themselves. They had managed to secure several wagons and enough horses to pull them, but they had no spare horses, so moving was pretty slow. They carried weapons, since there were other looters in the area, but they stuck mostly to knives and clubs; the Deacon had strictly prohibited the use of guns.

For now, the members of the flock were holed up in the basement of the hospital. Much of the building above them had been destroyed, but the basement had survived. Being below ground, it was easier to keep warm than in many other areas. There had also been a reasonably good supply of food there. The members of the flock had also helped themselves to clothing from the hospital. Since the gowns and scrubs were "simpler" than their normal clothing, the Deacon had decided they were better.

Charlie loaded the last of the meat they'd taken onto the wagon and headed up front. He and James were out late and it was nearly dark. They had learned early that it was best not to be out after dark. The Flock was not the only organized group in town, but for some reason, their enemies, whom they had dubbed the Night Razers, came only at night. The Razers seemed hell-bent on destroying everyone and everything they came across. They weren't as numerous as the Flock, but they used automatic weapons and explosives. The shepherds were always very careful to cover their trail when they headed back to the hospital, fearing they would become the next target if their location was known.

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