Book 2: Page 5

Thomas shooed Elliott in ahead when they reached the barracks. Elliott had tried bolting more than once and he’d learned to usher Elliott in despite being teased by the other soldiers about holding the door for his girlfriend.
The outer rooms housed the soldiers stationed at Fairchild. Men in uniform ducked in and out of rooms all along the hallway, trading banter and crude jokes. Doors popped open, heads ducking out, men calling back and forth to borrow this or that, offering everything from books to condoms. Most of them called out a greeting to Elliott and his escort, though some were more hesitant than others.

Most of the soldiers here didn’t seem to know what to think of Elliott and his friends. Elliott could hardly blame them: he wasn’t sure he knew what to think of him and his friends. A drunken, slightly-past-his-prime Scot, the ex-protégé of a man who thought brewing beer was the best way to deal with the zombie apocalypse, a space case coffee tweaker, two dogs (one of whom was unnaturally smart), a tall ex-con, a disgraced commander from an overrun military installation in Oregon, a lovelorn sap who was handy with a camera, the weirdest sidekick ever and … Max.
They showed up in the company of the Governor of Washington State and the Director of the Centers for Disease Control, with wild tales of zombies, and beer brewing and an old Russian beast that had been dubbed the Relicopter pulled on a trailer behind their convoy.

Deeper in the barracks, they passed General McNabb’s room. The door was open, as though in mockery of his house arrest, awaiting court marshal. Or maybe they were just testing him. Despite Elliott and Roger’s protests that the General was a hero, he’d been accused of abandoning his post. From a strictly literal standpoint Elliott understood but he would never let them court marshal the general. How he’d stop them was another matter. General McNabb sat inside his room, stretched out on his bed, reading. He wore fresh, clean, perfectly pressed BDUs, the matching cap set on his nightstand. The embroidered nametag displayed his name but there were no indications of rank anywhere. He lifted hard green eyes, alight with intelligence and a perpetual awareness of his surroundings, before Elliott even addressed him. McNabb nodded at him with a smile that did not match the rest of his expression.

Despite being completely unnecessary in this situation, Thomas snapped a salute and McNabb returned it, barely containing a grimace of discomfort. Many of the soldiers had heard Elliott’s tale had sympathized with the General and taken to saluting him. Acknowledging his rank in protest of the accusation that he was a traitor was both subversive and dangerous but they persisted. No one had said anything as yet but General McNabb was discomfited by the thought of them risking punishment on his behalf. The enlisted men and women only supported and respected him more for that.

Elliott moved past the General’s room as he rarely felt in the mood to talk. A few doors down Jake’s door was also open. He nearly tripped when he looked in.

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