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Knox Event - The Collapse - Prologue and Chapter 1

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        Somewhere in Westpoint Kentucky, A man roughly in his thirties staggers down a road littered in corpses and trash. He's addled in bites, his face and chest covered in blood and his right arm hung by a thread. His hair was dark brown and short, and clean shaven. He wore a blue sweater over a white dress shirt, black slacks, and dress shoes. He shuffled idly along his way before turning to a man on a nearby roof that caught his eye, holding a camera. The cameraman stared wide-eyed in pure terror as the bloodied man raised his good arm as if to wave and approached. The cameraman tried his best to keep from shaking as he tried to take a picture. The slip ejected from the port on the bottom and he took it out and set it aside, taking the time to snap a few more for good measure. Once the cameraman was sure he had a clear photo in the assortment he took, he quickly headed off before the looming threat drew too close.


        For Ross Barkley of Osawatomie Kansas, it started before the beginning. A typical Sunday morning on June 20th, 1993, he was startled awake by an alarm he set the day prior for 4AM. He looked around to find himself in his bed by the time he turned it off. Afterward, Ross laid back, staring at the ceiling and taking a moment to breathe before quickly realizing all it was doing was lulling him back to sleep. 


        Ross sat up and wiped the tired feeling from his eyes before making his way to the bathroom. He began brushing his teeth before shaving and trimming his Auburn red beard. After peering at himself in the mirror, he proceeded to shower and get dressed. Once dried off and clothed, he rounded up his luggage and left his house. He began putting everything away in the trunk before climbing into the driver's seat. With the key in the ignition and the truck roaring to a start, he quickly made his way to Chalmer’s for breakfast.


        "Hi, welcome to Chalmers, what can I get you?" A woman's voice echos through the intercom in a chipper tone.


        "Yeah, uh... Lemme get one of your breakfast hams, one loaded breakfast burrito and a large coffee." Ross asks after taking a moment to look over the menu.


        "That you, Ross?" The voice asked after a brief pause, recognising her regular customer. "Yup. Heading outta town, wanted to get breakfast." Ross said with a chuckle and a slight nod. "Alrighty then, that'll be Three seventy-six at the window." The voice replied. Ross pulled up and a plump young woman with dark hair and brown eyes opened the window with a smile. "Hey Donna." He said.


"Hey!" The woman replied, taking Ross' cash and handing over his change, “So where ya headed?" "Kentucky,” he starts, “visitin' my brother and his family this year for the Fourth." "Oh yeah?" Donna asked, her grin becoming wider, "Sounds like a lot of fun!" "Want me to bring you something?" Ross asked. "Sure, surprise me!" Donna says, "here's your meal now, you drive safe!" She added before handing Ross a bag containing his meal and waving goodbye to him. "I will, See ya 'round!" Ross said before driving off toward the main road, eventually merging onto it until his next eventual exit.



         Ross followed along the highway for a few hours, watching the hills and trees roll by, cattle grazing in their fields, along with acres of wheat and corn. As he went between cities, the landscape changed to a more dense woodland. Along the way, he even spotted a doe crossing the street with its fawn. As he drew closer to Kansas City, the scenery changed to a more urban setting. The cars became more frequent, and he began to see more and more houses with smaller plots of land. 


        The towers came into view with the bridge, lit brightly over the dim morning sky. He exited the highway and drove to the airport. After parking, he made his way in to find boarding. The building bustled with people coming in and out of town, their loved ones, and even a few soldiers changing station. Since he had multiple bags, he had to stop to drop his luggage off before going through TSA. The process was swift, all things considered and he went to his terminal where he waited for boarding. As he did so, he walked over to a payphone and put in a quarter before punching in a number.


        "Yello?" A man's voice chimed on the other side of the line.


        "Hey Randall, it's Ross." Ross answered as he leaned against a nearby wall.


        "Hey! Make it to the airport okay?" Randall asked over the phone.


        "Yeah, waiting for boarding now. Gonna be about an hour." Ross replied, looking at his gate and then to his watch.


        "What time should I be there to pick you up?" Russel then asked.


        "About an hour and forty minute flight, and give out take an hour bus ride, so maybe about... One thirty, maybe two your time? give or take." Ross replied, giving his best estimate.


        "Alright, I'll see ya then!" His brother said finally.


        Ross and Russel hung up almost simultaneously, and after the call Ross made his way toward his gate, sitting on one of the many chairs in the terminal. Once seated, Ross put his carry-on beneath his chair after pulling out a cassette player, a pair of earbuds, and a GameLad Color. He put in a yellow cartridge flicked the device on. The title card for Pocket Pets: Thundermouse Edition, and Ross pressed start to begin playing his last save.


        After setting his game up and making sure the volume was down, Ross put his earbuds in and turned his music on and began listening to his rock/metal mix as he began to play his game. He looked up occasionally to look at the time and the other people to make sure he would board on time.


        The flight began boarding at eight, and was expected to take off at eight-thirty. Being a veteran, Ross was allowed to board before everyone else, along with the disabled and elderly. Once he got on and looked out the window of his seat, he saw the left wing of the aircraft right next to him. Underneath, he saw a man tossing luggage into cargo, making a game out of finding his bags in the mess. Afterward, he put his earbuds back in and began to lay back, waiting for the rest of the passengers to board. Afterwards, they taxied to the runway and Ross was pushed back into his seat slightly by the acceleration as the plane sped down the runway, feeling almost as if in free fall when the landing gear left the ground.


        And with that, Ross was on his way to Ohio, where he'd take a bus to cross the river over to Rosewood. He sat next to an older man with graying hair who was reading a book. He looked over to Ross and chuckled, "You look pretty excited." He said.


        Ross looked over to the man, and then down to his hands, only just realizing he was air drumming. He stopped and rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Yeah, going to Kentucky to visit some family and friends there for a couple weeks. Figured I'd take time off with the fourth comin'." He said.


        "Yeah? Where ya work?" The man asked.


        "Nothing of particular note, just dollar store retail." Ross said.


        "Nothing of particular note." The man said with a laugh, "Son, you're a working man giving a service to your community. Your store provides a lot that people can't do without." He said, "I take it you get verbally abused by some of the customers?"


        "It happens from time to time, yeah. But my boss has my back. She's one of a kind." 


        "That's good. It's rare for a man to find a worthwhile employer." The man said, "Doesn't always have to be big work, sometimes the support n' loyalty's what wins the good ones." He added.


        "I couldn't agree more." Ross chuckled.


        "So did ya do anything before that?" The man asked.


        "Been a few jobs here and there, but I was in the army for a few years." Ross answered.


        "Oh yeah? What was your MOS?" The man asked


        "11 Bravo, 35th infantry."


        "That so? Fort Leavenworth?"


        "Yeah! How'd ya know?" Ross asked, lighting up at the fact someone recognized his station.


        "I retired there about nine, ten years ago."


        "No kidding? That's when I was stationed there!"


        The man laughed again, "That a fact? Colonel Micheal Stratford."


        "I remember you now!" Ross said with a snap of his fingers as the memory of his old CO came back to him.


        "I thought I recognized you. What was your name again?" The old man asked.


        "Ross Barkley, sir." Ross said.


        "Nah, I don't think you have to call me that anymore son." Micheal chuckled, "How about a drink on me?" He asked.


        "No thank you, si- Mike... Alcohol doesn't sit well on my palate." Ross said.


        "I can respect that." Micheal said with a warm hearted nod, "How about a bourbon for me and a can of cola for you?" He said.


        "Actually, that sounds pretty good. Thank you." Ross said. As the stewardess passed to ask if they wanted drinks, Micheal was on top of it, giving Ross the can that was complementary of the flight and paying for his own drink.


        The conversation continued throughout the flight, gradually dwindling to small talk, often initiated by Micheal. Landing in Ohio, they said their goodbyes and parted ways.


        "You seem to be a good man, I trust you'll be writing the next chapter of your life here. You take care now." Micheal said with a shake of Ross' hand before they parted ways. Ross waved goodbye as Micheal went off to his layover before leaving to the bus stop outside and waiting. Once the Bus arrived, Ross stood up and collected his things once more, putting them in the storage compartment of the bus before getting on.


        Ross handed his ticket to the driver and made his way to his seat. He put his earbuds back in and laid back in his seat, closing his eyes to let them rest as Jet lag began to catch up with him. He snoozed through a majority of the long bus ride, occasionally waking up when he felt it slowing down for the other stops. Once he made it to Rosewood Bus Station, he got off, noticing Russel standing by his car. 


        "Hey man!" The younger brother said as he reached out to shake Ross' hand and pull him in for a brotherly hug, "Lemme help ya with your stuff." He said after, grabbing a couple bags and taking them to the trunk of his Chevalier Primani.


        "So how've ya been?" Russel asked as he walked.


        "Doing alright. Looking forward to the fourth." Ross replied, following his brother around the car.


        "Same here. Got some good ones I wanna try out." Russel said with an eager chuckle. Russel set the bags he was holding down and unlocked the trunk, opening it and then helping is brother put his bags in.


        After shutting and locking the trunk to get his keys back, Russel made his way toward the driver's side to get in and turn the ignition. His brother going into the front passenger seat.


        "You can pick whatever CD you want." Russel said, lowering Ross' sun visor to show a disc protector attached with a variety of CDs in the pockets.


        Ross waved his fingers over the selection as he considered his options, picking an album by a metal band named Day of Reckoning and put it into the tray. He pressed play and turned the volume up to a proper level.


After being picked up at the bus stop, Russel and Ross had an easy and short drive ahead of them. 


       As Russel began to roll over to the gas station, Ross looked at a squirrel with a quaint fur pattern that began running up a tree with a walnut in its mouth.


        "Woah! What kinda squirrel was that???" Ross asked, looking back to see it as long as possible.


        "You never seen a fox squirrel?" Russel replied.


        "I..." Russel stopped, realizing how silly he sounded, "I never saw one that looked like that. It was white all over except the head and tail."


        "Oh, yeah man. They come in all kinds of fur patterns. Grey's just the most common, I think."


        "We might." Russel said, "Though I gotta stop by Fossoil. Runnin' down to a quarter tank." He added before he turned right into the parking lot and finding a vacant pump.


        "You wanna get us something to snack on while I gas up?" Russel asked, handing his brother some cash.


        "Sure thing." Ross said, going inside and looking around before finding where the Hurt Brothers' Pizza was before taking in the savory aroma of the assortment. He picked out a Pepperoni for himself and a supreme for his brother before going to the fountains and getting a drink for him and his brother, a Cracka Cola and Dr. Paprika respectively, then went register.


        "Hey, find everything alright?" The young lady at the register asked. Her name tag read that her name was Hazel.


        "Yeah, thank ya." Ross said with a nod, he thought she was rather pretty, but didn't want to be awkward. He took note of her blonde, wavy hair which seemed to go down to her upper back, for work; she kept it in a pony tail.


        "Alright, two fountain drinks and slices of pizza, that everything?" 


        "Yeah, your hair looks fantastic, by the way." Ross said. Hazel smiled a little bashfully and looked at him, a little surprised, "Well, thank you." She said as she smiled, "That'll be four twenty-six."


        Ross took the ten his brother gave him and handed it to Hazel, who then asked, "So you from outta town?" she asked.


        "Yeah, how'd you know?"


         "You don't look like you're from here. It was just a guess." Hazel replied with a laugh.


        "Oh? You've got real good Intuition." He replied, taking his change from Hazel.


        "Alright, you have a good one!" She said.


        "You too." Ross said before heading out with his and his brothers snacks. He went to the car just as his brother was putting the nozzle on the fuel pump away and gave Russel his pizza slice and soda.


        "Thanks, you can keep the change." Russel said with a nod, taking it and getting into the car. Ross slipped the change into his pocket and grabbed his food before getting in, taking a bite and buckling in as he began chewing. After the engine turned, the song resumed where it was earlier.



        People living in a border camp to the north are attempting to migrate across the bridge into Ohio. Many are scared, angry, some are even eager to be so close to safety.


        The sound of an engine roared overhead, and a B2 ripped through the open skies, dropping something above the bridge. People watched in horror as it fell, and many on the bridge tried to either race back into Kentucky or commit to Ohio. Screams filled the air, growing louder as the object quickly fell to the ground.


        A loud blast sounded, rattling the earth and sending those within range flying in all directions. None made it across the bridge, and survivors lashed out on military personnel with wrathful outrage.


         Russel put the car into gear and made his way back onto the road, turning left to go north and continuing home. A few more turns and they arrived to a charming, small house at the end of their street. After pulling into the drive and putting on the parking brake, Russel turned off the car and made his way to the trunk to get Ross' belongings.


        "We've got a recliner in the living room you can sleep in at night. And we'll be going to Mollie's for a potluck with some friends I'd like ya to meet." Russel said, him and Ross heading to the front door and opening it.


        "Daddy!" A young lass the youth of five said as she ran up excitedly and hugged her father.


        "Hey Millie." Russel said with a chuckle as he picked his daughter up and hugged her.


        "Hey dad." A boy said as the sound of a videogame he was playing stopped. He shortly stepped in and saw Ross enter, "Hey Uncle Ross."


        "Hi Uncle Ross." Millie said, waving to Ross.


        "Hey guys." Ross said with a wave.


        "Hey sport. Russel said as he set Millie back down onto her feet so she could run off and play with her toys.


        "Want any help with that?" The boy asked, pointing to Ross' luggage.


        "Actually, yeah, if you wouldn't mind taking this to the bathroom, this is his toiletries." Russel said as he handed a Fanny pack filled with a toothbrush, a travel size tube of toothpaste, mouth rinse, and floss. There were also pens and a small notepad with it.


        "Got it." The boy said, "I'll hang it on the door hook."


        "Thanks Lincoln." Russel said before making his way to the room.


        "We can put your clothes in the wardrobe, we got space. All I ask is ya knock before ya enter." He said.


        "Understood!" Ross replied with a nod, after putting the fanny pack in the bathroom, Lincoln came out and went back to his game. Ross went into the bedroom with his brother and began putting his things in the vacant drawer.


        "By the way, got you a late birthday present you can take back to the Airport. I brought the idea up with Kate and she helped chip in for it." Russel said as he helped pack Ross' things.


        "Really? I'll have to thank her later for that, then. Thanks for thinkin' of me." Ross said, rather touched. Since he left for the Army, he didn't have his birthday celebrated much, to him it was just another day.


        After finishing, they made their way to the kitchen where Kate was making something of a Sheppard's pie with a recipe that was of her mom's creation.


        "Hey babe." Russle said with a warm tone, walking behind his wife to give her a kiss and a hug.


        "Hey angel." She said in reply.


        "Russel tells me you helped chip in for a gift he wanted to get me for my birthday. Wanted to come and thank you." He said.


        "Don't mention it. Russel wanted to get you something special, I wanted to help out. Plus I'm total putty for it too." She said.


        Shortly after there was scratching at the bedroom door followed by Millie giggling. "Go ahead and let her out now, Millie." Her father said. The door opened and out came a tortoise shell calico with a prance, flicking her tail as she scanned the room with her gilded eyes. Upon noticing Kate, Russel and Ross, she let out a trill and made her way over, brushing herself against Kate's leg.


        "There she is!" Kate said as she picked the cat up and scratched her ear gently, the cat purring an pressing her head against Kate's hand before Kate handed the cat over to her husband, "Your idea, you give her to him." She said.


        "Happy birthday, Ross." Russel said, rubbing the calico's ears as she began to knead his arm. Ross gasped as his eyes lit up and he took the cat, nuzzling her soft fur and scratching her chin and cheek.


        "Dude, no way!" He said excitedly as he began to pet the feline.


        "Shelter calls her Marble." Russle says, "Know how much you like cats and figured you could use someone to keep you company." He added.


        "I love her!" Ross said happily before setting Marble down and stroked her a few times before standing back up, "Thank you guys."


        "Don't mention it man. Happy birthday." Russel said.


        Marble continued to purr as Millie then approached to pick her up.


        "Come on Marble, let's go play!" She said happily as she scooped the cat up, her hind legs dangling and her forelegs extended, now looking around wide eyed, but still purring.


        "Wow, she's so great with Millie. I might have to keep her!" Kate teased. Ross looked at her surprisedly before he playfully glared, "I'ma cut you" Kate laughed at the feigned threat, "You think I won't get ya first?" She replied before laughing. Russel laughed and chimed in.


        "Let's be real here, she'd totally kick your ass." He said.


        "Oh, no doubt about it!" Ross said.


        "In any case, food's almost ready. We'll be getting ready to go soon." She said, "Baby, could you help Millie get ready?" She asked.


        "Absolutely." Russel said before giving Kate a gentle kiss on her temple.


         "Thanks, I love you." Kate said.


         "I love you too." Russel replied.


        The family got ready and began getting everything in the car. Marble was left home to allow her to get used to the home, and the family took off to the potluck.


Chapter I


        A man has fallen deathly ill. His fever and aches being treated by his sister as best as she could. He heaved into a bucket, his condition seeming to rapidly grow worse by the minute. He gets up and begins going to the shower, despite his sister's protests. He steps into the shower, turns on the cold water, and lets out a breath of relief as it trickled down his face.


        Suddenly, his knees gave out and he fell to the floor, hitting his head quite a few times. His sister tried to catch him, but couldn't react in time. She noticed he wasn't moving and moved in to check on him, noticing he was dead. She began to mourn her brother, and within a few minutes, he begins breathing again. She looks in surprise, turning to check on him again. He turned his head, his eyes glazed over and his sister tried to give him a hug only to be bitten on the jugular. As she fell to the ground writhing, clutching her wound and gurgling, her brother hunched over and began eating her alive.


        Ross and his family arrived with plenty of time to set up their portions. Russel parked among the other cars in the driveway, and another guest pulled up to parallel park on the road. The Barkleys got out, gathered their things made their way to the door. 


        "Mollie's a sweet lady. You'll like her." Russel said as he helped Kate get the Americanized Sheppard's Pie and the dessert he made; a red velvet cake with buttercream frosting.


        "God damn that looks good man." Ross said.


        "Just wait til ya have some." Russel said with a chuckle before nodding to the tailgate, signaling for Ross to close it for him. Ross did so and made his way up to the door with the others.


      "Hi, ya made it!" An older lady in her seventies said, she opened the door more and allowed her guests to enter, leaving the door open for the others making their way up now.


        "There's a couple more on the way. Go ahead and put that on the counter in the kitchen, I'll give your brother the tour." She said, leading Ross off, "He's told me quite a lot about you." She said, opening a door to show a pair of bookshelves, "Here's the study. I don't have a computer here, but the boys have their Katari." She said.


        "36?" Ross asked.


        "That's the one!" The lady replied, "Oh, where are my manners. I'm Mollie."


        "Ross, pleasure to meet you."


        "Bedroom's here." Mollie said, pointing at the door next to the study, here's the bathroom if ya need, and that there's the kitchen." She said, pointing to the door behind her and the doorway on the other side of the wall, respectively.


         "We keep a garden out back, Harold always loved to talk to his plants." She reminisced.


        "I'm sorry for the loss." Ross said.


        "It's quite alright dear, the boys and their dad keep me company." 


        "Mom not in the picture?" Ross asked.


        Mollie shook her head, checking to see that the boys weren't in the room, "She wanted a career, she said... Not a family, then she left for a doctor."


        "Good lord, I'm so sorry." Ross said, looking to Mollie with a saddened expression.


        "It ain't your fault, Hun. She showed who she really was. All that matters now is I make sure the boys get a good childhood, and my son can recover."


       "I'm not always the best with this kinda thing, but if ya need any help, you or yours, you can reach out to me." Ross said, gently patting Mollie on the shoulder.


        "Thank you, dear." She said. Just then, an older man came in, bearing a resemblance to Benjamin Franklin. He brought a pot of venison stew. 


        "Hello, Mollie, Russ, Kate. Kids." He said, greeting everyone in the room as he saw them before looking to Ross. 


        "Pleasure to meet you, I'm John Franklin." He introduced, "Most people call me by my middle name 'cause I look like Ben Franklin." He said with a laughter.


        "Well, I'm pleased to meet you, Doctor Franklin." Ross said as he shook John's hand with a nod.


        "Well, I hope you like Venison. Brought stew!" John said, raising his pot in presentation.


        "Oh, I LOVE venison!" Ross said eagerly.


        "By the by, We've got a new chair and a sofa coming, but I've gotta work when it gets here. You mind signing for it and putting it together?" Russel asked, coming in from the kitchen after helping his wife put the food in order.


        "Yeah, not a problem!" Ross replied. 


         The Taylors were the last to arrive. The mother Beth, her husband Franklin, and their daughter Cindy. Along with them, they opted to bring a dessert; a shoofly pie.


        Over dinner, Russel's friends took the time to get to know Ross, and show a little about themselves. John went to Pennsylvania University's Perelman school of medicine and works at the clinic in town. Beth sews in her free time, and her husband works at Spiffo's as a caterer.


        Russel got a new job in construction and spoke about his best friend Bill, who was unable to attend because his mother in Muldraugh fell ill. The merry band of new friends had their night of debauchery over the selection of fine home-made foods. As well as a few drinks for John, Franklin, and Mollie. Little did they know, this would be the last semblance of normalcy they would have.


        Only a day after arriving, Ross and the others noticed an acrid, putrescent smell flooded the Knox county area. A week later, the phones were cut. Ross needed to call Kate at work for instructions on how to prepare a meal for Millie. He picked up the phone, putting it to his ear before reaching the pad to dial the number, and nothing. No tone, no message, nothing. He pressed the buttons, hearing the dial presses in the receiver, but no ring.


        "What the... Hell...?" He pondered, hanging up the phone and giving it another try with the same results. He went to the living room where he found Lincoln playing his video games, "Hey, Link? You mind watching Millie? I'm gonna head next door, phone isn't working."


        "Yeah, I gotcha." Lincoln said before pausing his game. Ross immediately went next door after heading out the front door, approaching the neighbors house and knocking. John answered the door.


        "Oh, hello Ross!" He said, "How can I help ya?"


        "You mind if I use your phone? Russ' isn't working and I gotta ask Kate how to fix Millie's lunch."


        "Not a trouble, come on in." John said, moving aside to let Ross in, "It's in the kitchen, next to the fridge."


        Ross approached the phone and picked it up off the wall, it was a cordless, and the numbers were on the receiver, so he punched in the number and held it to his ear. Yet again, nothing.


        "Uh... John? Are phone outages common here?" Ross asked.


        "Not normally, why?"


        "There's nothing here, either." Ross said as he handed the phone to John. The doctor took it and held it to his ear and seemed surprised.


        "Hm." He pondered, "I'll ask 'round for a phone for ya. You head on back and handle the kiddos."


        "Alright, thank you." Ross said, turning to head to the door.


        "And if anything, I'll head up and find her for ya, where she at?" John asked.


        "She's at the store picking up groceries. She's got her cell." Ross said before making his way back. John searched around and yielded no results, letting Ross know that all the neighbors were experiencing the same thing. This, obviously didn't sit well with Ross, and he had a gut feeling something bad was going down. But had no way of telling what. He went in and winged Millie's lunch as best he could, figuring Kate would understand. After making sure the kids ate, Kate returned home with some bags of groceries in hand.


        "Ross, you mind helping me unload? I got you some root beers, couldn't call to ask what you wanted."


        "Yeah, phones are apparently down. All over the neighborhood."


        "Wait, all over?" Kate asked, "The clerk at the store couldn't get the phones to work either..." She added in realization.


        "So it's all over town?" Ross asked.


       "Probably..." Kate said, taking a breath to calm her nerves, realizing that an emergency could have happened at any moment and there would have been no way to let her know, "I-I need to go tell Russel."


        "Let's get the groceries in first. I'll put 'em away so they don't go bad. You can tell him in the meantime."


        After getting everything in, Ross began putting the food away with Lincoln and Millie's help, as they knew better where the food went. Kate let Russel know about the phone situation, and under Ross' suggestion, prepared for a coming storm.


        As time went on, Ross, Russel, Kate and John all asked around if there was any kind of talk. Some coming from Muldraugh, said that helicopters were flying suspiciously low over the city when they were leaving. Bill was one of those people, so Ross went over to question him with Russel coming along for the introduction.


        "Hey Grunt!" Russel said with a chipper tone. A large, ox of a man turned around to see his friend and Ross approaching, bearing a large grin.


        "Howdy, fellas." He said.


        "Bill, want you to meet my brother Ross. Ross, this is Bill." Russel said. The two shook hands, and Ross had to shake the feeling back into his after feeling the hearty grip Bill had.


        "Yeah, Though people call me Grunt cause I do the heavy liftin'." Bill replied.


        "Pleasure to meet you, big guy." Ross said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a small notebook and pen, "So talk of the town's that choppers went over Muldraugh. You were there, right?"


        "I was, an' I remember seein' them choppers flyin' over the highway. Was already on my way back."


        "How many did you see?"


        "Bout three. Didn't look like they came over from Rosewood."


        "That explains why we didn't see them..." Ross said before thinking a moment, "Did you notice anything strange while you were there? Or with the choppers?"


        "Not much other than they were flyin' purty low." Bill said, "Didn't look like no trainin' exercise, they were goin' quick. Like they needed ta be somewhere."


        "So then they must have been landing in the Knox area..." Ross said, thinking out loud, "Did they have one rotor or two?"


        "The ones I saw had two."


        "CH-47s." Ross said.


        "What?" Bill asked cluelessly.


        "They're Chinooks, they were flying personnel or cargo." 


        "What the hell would they be staging here? Are we being attacked?" Russel asked.


        "If that was the case they would have been escorted." Ross pondered, "Plus we'd be seeing a lot more military presence right now, not just a story of three choppers... That and the news isn't saying anything about it. We would have heard something by now."


        "What do you s'pose I do?" Bill asked.


        "Keep close contact with us, let us know anything strange you notice. Other than that, supply yourself with plenty of food, medicine and anything you need." Ross said, "I feel like this is just the start of a MAJOR shit storm..."


July 6, 1993


        It was two days after the fourth, Ross was on the porch drinking some lemonade. He was taking a break constructing the furniture and was listening to HitzFM on the radio, basking in the warmth of the summer sun.


        He noticed something in the corner of his eye, a pale, sickly looking man who was slowly shuffling, staggering over his steps. Assuming it was drugs or alcohol, he called out.


        "Hey, buddy! You have a good time?" He asked with a chuckle. The man stopped and turned to him, giving a soft gurgle as he reached his hand out. No verbal response, just advancing. Despite his hairs standing on end by the Gastly appearance, he tried to play the friendly facade.


        "You good? Bit of a hangover?" He asked, "Got just the thing for that." He said, tipping his lemonade in the direction of the man, "Want some? Got plenty."


        The man drew closer, and now Ross could hear the snarls the man let off, fight or flight instinct forced him to jump up, dropping his glass which shattered on the deck.


        "Hey, I'm sorry I offended you man. But please don't come any closer, I'll view it as a threat." Ross warned. But the man ignored his advice, tripping over the curb and standing back up, continuing his approach, "LAST CHANCE ASSHOLE! STEP OFF!" Ross cried out to no avail.


        The man got within arms reach, and Ross was completely in survival mode. He reared a fist as hard as he could, throwing a hook into the man's jaw, sending him falling back with a spin. When the punch made contract, Ross felt something shift and he heard a noticeable crack. The man however got up and began to advance again. Millie and no idea what was going on in her room, playing with Marble, and Lincoln pauses his game, hearing the warning and coming out to see the man going down.


        "Ross? W-what's going on?" Lincoln asked timidly.


        "Go to your room with Millie! It's not safe!" Ross called out. Lincoln stood there for a moment as if to say something or try to do something to help, but he nodded after a moment and rushed to his room. The man stood back up, now rushing at Ross who grabbed the man by the throat, uppercutting the man in the stomach, only to realize he was unresponsive to the pain. Realizing the man was trying to bite him, Ross raised a foot up and push kicked as hard as he could to knock the man back, giving him enough time to rush in and grab the first thing he had available; being a hammer that was laying just next to the toolbox.


        Ross was grabbed on the back, rearing back to shove the man off as the force of the lunge caused him to tumble over the couch. A lamp was knocked over in the process, crashing on the floor as Ross desperately struggled to overpower his opponent. After managing to roll on top, he pinned the man down by the throat, giving three mighty cleaves to cave in the man's skull.


        After realizing what he had done, Ross dropped the hammer and jumped back, hyperventilating as the shock of the realization of what he's done coupled with flashbacks of his tour in Cambodia.


        Lincoln and Millie heard the struggle, and the girl cried out in shock as she heard the sound of glass shattering which caused the cat to jump out of her arms, inadvertently scratching her in the process.


        "Millie! Shhh! It's okay! It's okay!" Lincoln sharply whispered, desperately trying to calm his sister down as he reached out to hold her, noticing the scratch on her arm and reached to grab a nearby sheet to press onto it. He began singing her favorite lullaby, which soothed her crying in the time it took Ross to deal with the man. 


        Kate came home from visiting a friend and cried out in shock when she saw the scene.


        "OH MY GOD WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED???" She yelled in panic. The kids heard her and came racing out to hug their mother. Ross was still trying to process what just transpired himself.


        "Th-this guy came up and was scaring Ross, he warned him to back off and he kept coming. He told me to wait in the bedroom with Millie, I-I think he was trying to bite Ross, mom!" Lincoln stuttered, trying to explain the situation to his mom.


        "Is that true?" Kate asked, looking to Ross who was still trembling on the floor, "Ross?"


        Ross nodded and looked up to her, "Yeah, And we can't call the cops... Phones are down. I-I need a minute to process this..." He said.


        "Okay, okay. I'll go to the police station and talk to them. Then I'll go to the construction site and get Russ, we'll come back here and figure out what to do. Are you okay enough to watch over the kids?" Kate asked, kneeling next to Ross and explaining her plan. Ross nodded again and took a deep breath to calm his nerves. In the meantime, his mind began to wander.


        He was aware of a new flu that was spreading across the state, tears welled in his eyes as his racing thoughts continued to relentlessly attack him. Was this just drugs? Or was there something more to it? The thoughts of the choppers Bill mentioned, coupled with that god awful smell, and the news of said flu all rushed through his mind, as if connecting dots he didn't want to be there. 


        He looked at the blood stained hammer on the floor before looking at the corpse, sitting up and reaching into his pockets to see if there was anything to identify him. After turning the ignition in her car, Kate drove off and began heading to the police station.


        The dead man's wallet contained an ID, his social security card, and fifteen dollars worth of cash and loose change. His name was Jack Smith. This would come in handy for the police. He set it down and stood up to go to the porch to stand guard.


        "Kids, go back to your room. Lincoln, take anything you can and block the door." He panted, "I-I need to keep watch. If something happens, run out and come to me immediately."


        The kids did exactly that, rushing back into their room and closing the door behind them. The sound of furniture scooting across the floor was heard shortly after and Ross went back and forth the house, keeping a watchful eye for anything odd.


        Minutes later, Russel and Kate returned, and Russel came running in. "Are the kids alright?

Are you alright?" Russel asked his brother.


        "Yeah, kids are safe, I had them barricade the door to their room and wait for you guys to get back." Ross said with a nod, "I'm good now."

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  • TheMitcher changed the title to Knox Event - The Collapse - Prologue and Chapter 1


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