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CHAOS BEGINS

Chapter 6

Alex

Alex had barely begun heading east on 3300 South when he saw two men fighting in the street. There were numerous cars in all six lanes, all dead, all blocking the road. Which made Alex wonder how far Colton and his passengers had gotten in the Mustang. Not that he would turn down a ride, but still. Couldn’t have gotten far. Not if all the roads were like this.

It seemed as if the men were fighting over the fact that one had run into the other. Didn’t they know their cars were worthless now?

One of the men turned and stormed away. Was the fight over? The man opened the passenger door to what must have been his car, leaned in for several moments, then stood and swiveled around to face the man he’d been fighting with. Half a second later, he raised a gun at the other man and opened fire. The man he was shooting at collapsed to the ground.

With nowhere to take cover, Alex dove to the sidewalk. The shooter, who was about twenty yards from Alex, strode over to the man he’d shot and stood over him, his gun pointed at him, his face a mask of fury. Alex rested his hand on his Glock, his gaze riveted to the scene.

The shooter lifted his eyes and glared at the people watching him before pointing his gun at first one person, then another while yelling, “You got a problem? Huh?”

With wide eyes, people shook their heads and held up their hands to show they were harmless. The shooter finally lowered his gun, tucking it into the back of his jeans before stalking away.

Removing his hand from his Glock, Alex slowly got up, his eyes on the shooter. Once the man reached the corner and began disappearing from view, Alex began to relax slightly, although he was on high alert for the next incident that was sure to occur.

Shocked that a cold-blooded murder had occurred right in the streets of Salt Lake City, right in front of him, he shook his head in disbelief. Even more stunning, no law enforcement came to the scene, and of course no one could call for help since all cell phones had been turned into colorful bricks.

Taking several moments to gather himself, Alex’s thoughts went to Melissa. What was she facing on her travels home? Was she safe? Was she all alone? That thought sent a zing of deep fear coursing through his chest. If only he knew where she was, he would go directly to her. Severely missing his iPhone and the Find My app, which would tell him exactly where she was at the tap of the screen, he audibly sighed and continued on his way, heading east toward 900 East.

“Hey, mister,” a man said as he approached Alex several minutes later. The shopping cart filled with random items as well as his dirty clothing pegged the man as homeless.

Alex turned to him with a frown. He didn’t have time for this.

“Hey,” the man said, “hey, what’s going on? Why’d all the cars stop?”

Slightly less annoyed that the man was only asking for information, Alex said, “Ever heard of an EMP?”

The man’s eyebrows bunched. “A what?”

“EMP. Electromagnetic Pulse.”

His expression smoothed out. “Oh yeah. I heard of that.” The man’s eyes slid to the pack on Alex’s back. “What’cha got in there?”

Okay. Here it came. Alex began walking. The man hurried to keep up. 

“Got any food in there? I sure am hungry.”

Alex considered the ramifications of what the man was asking. In normal times he wouldn’t have minded giving the man some of his food. But these weren’t normal times. And this wouldn’t be the last time he would be faced with someone asking for what he had. In some cases, he was sure, people would demand what he had. Especially as things became more desperate. The thought pushed him to quicken his pace. He needed to get home to his children—and pray that Melissa would make it home safely.

“Hey,” the man shouted. “Hey. Don’t walk away from me.”

Getting annoyed now, Alex noticed several people watching the exchange. These were people whose cars had died. For some reason they were staying with their vehicles as if they were waiting for a fleet of tow trucks to rescue them. 

Shaking his head, Alex kept walking. Next thing he knew, the homeless man was grabbing at his backpack, trying to rip it off his shoulders. Alex spun around and shoved the guy, knocking him down.

“Why’d you do that?” the man asked, his tone bewildered. 

“Back off,” Alex said, his tone sharp and sure.

Scowling, the man pointed at Alex. “You better watch out. You don’t got no car to hide in now.”

The truth of the man’s words hit Alex in the gut. He was right. Alex was on foot. No car windows to roll up. No car to speed off in. And he was by himself. Sure, he had his Glock, but he was no action hero. If he got jumped by several people, he wasn’t sure what his odds would be.

Tamping down that worry, he began walking, increasing his pace as much as he could without breaking into a jog. He needed to conserve his energy. He had a good fifteen miles to go. Not a lot, but it would take him at least four hours—if he could keep up this pace, which he knew he wouldn’t be able to do. He wasn’t in that great of shape. Plus, he was sure to run into obstacles.

Keeping his head on a swivel, he moved forward, determined to get home as quickly as he could.