Read on if you'd like; if so, thank you for taking the time to do so. Best of days to all.
The bus veered around a series of winding corners, and they slowly and methodically snaked their way deep into the trees. He surprisingly managed to drift in and out of sleep periodically with each bump and sway of the ancient machine as it rocked him to sleep. The old driver tamed the turns like a seasoned pro, and managed to swerve deftly around each craggy bend; any driver with normal nerves would surely not have attempted that type of road with the type of speed that this guy was able to conjure up. It was actually quite a shock that the old scrap heap was able to generate any speed at all, he mused. One look at that thing and you’d think it must’ve been George Washington’s motor coach. That fucker had to have been at Valley Forge. A good jolt jarred him from his sleep, and he sat up wide-eyed in the seat. He gave a quick, slumber induced glance around the bus in order to get his bearings, and noticed that her eyes had closed and her head was tilted back against the seat. Her head shifted gently from side to side with each curve of the road, and she looked so peaceful like that, he thought, her head dancing along with the movement of the bus. The breeze forced its way in and caught fragile tufts of her hair in its grasp, and sent it flying rapidly in front of her face. She was beautiful.
You couldn’t have cut the tension with a fucking chainsaw if you tried, it was so damned thick. My mouth was as dry as a pile of dead leaves, and yet my palms were as soggy as an old dish rag as we padded our way slowly and quietly to the back of the place. The thunder raged like a thousand explosions outside, and the whole thing reminded me of the Fourth of July. If only it were. Maybe all the thunder would mask our footsteps and chatter and movement from the things outside…or worse, maybe it would hide their movement from us. Those fuckers had to know we were in here. Or did they? How safe were we, locked away in here? Was it a sanctuary or a mouse trap? We shuffled our way through Sam’s tiny kitchen, a place where I’d dined on many a random night, and I could feel my feet slide a bit on the grease drenched floor. “Hey guys, grab something outta here”, Sam uttered quietly, and motioned to a counter full of old kitchen implements. Knives, spoons, big forks, and other assorted cutlery glinted slightly in the darkness of the kitchen, and I grabbed a steel tenderizer so massive that looked like it could have pounded a t-bone into a veal cutlet. It looked like Thor’s hammer. I smiled at the thought of that, the first quick smile I’d had since we left Harvey’s.
The thing just seemed huge, but shit, if all I was gonna have to work with was some damned kitchenware, then by God that’s the thing I’d want to use to smash a few skulls. It was more than enough. I watched the other guy grab a butcher knife, and Sam had been holding the same baseball bat that he’d had in his hands since we busted all frantic like into his bar. “Listen”, I whispered into the wet, drippy darkness, and all I could hear for a brief moment was the quickened breathing of my two companions. Then we heard it again, the only reason that we were back here in the first place. It hit the door like a mack truck, it seemed, a banging so loud that it split the quiet of the kitchen of the room in half, making our ears ring. Whatever it was, we were adamant that the fucker was NOT going to get inside. “Whatever it was”, I repeated in my head, as if I didn’t already know what God cursed horror was lurking beyond the door handle. “Whatever it was”…I wish to God that I didn’t know. BOOM, it went again, and all three of us froze. BOOM. “Sam, you got any chain? Rope?”, I blurted out as quietly as I could, and I could see, even in the dimness of the room, that Sam’s nerves were getting shaken loose with each slam of dead flesh on that damned door. Those fuckers knew we were in here, but how many were out there? We were fucking blind in this building. Sitting ducks. “SAM!”, I made a point to shake him hard, back into the sting of reality. “We gotta seal this fucking door, Sam, and right now”; my words slipped out in little silent slivers. “T-t-there’s a cabinet over there”, Sam managed to mutter, “T-the cabinet right there…you guys help me move it.” We all three rushed over to the corner where it was. A big assed old steel monstrosity…maybe it would do the trick…for a while. It was all happening in a blur, and I couldn’t tell the banging on the door from the booming thunder outside anymore.
“That’s a nice little combination you have there”, she impishly suggested as she scanned the contents laid out neatly on the register. Well, seeing that there were only two contents sitting there, they weren’t that damn hard to miss. There they were, my now glaringly odd looking purchases, standing out like two sore thumbs that had been crushed disastrously by an errant hammer; like two criminals that just got busted red handed, and now had the cop’s bright ass flashlight beamed directly in their faces. Just like boom, flooded with blinding spotlight, right there. Bullets and sleeping pills. At least she smiled when she said it. “Yeah”, I managed to stammer out as I was jarred back into reality by the warm, sticky sweetness of her voice. I was subtly elated at the fact that she spoke to me, and the gentleness in her tone just lulled me right in like an invited guest. Well, elated and surprised and highly caught off guard was the truth of it. But I couldn’t just stop at a mere “Yeah”. So when I recovered from the initial shock, I attempted to elaborate on the source of my curious shopping. “Looks a bit weird, doesn’t it?”, I joked, with a nice little laugh to try to smooth out the proceedings. “I wouldn’t say weird”, she went on, “now questionable? That’s the word that I’d use”, she stated with a pleasant smile….one that I seriously could not stop looking at.
I met her at a checkout line while buying a box of 9mm ammo and a bottle of Tylenol P.M. Yeah, that’s right; bullets and sleeping pills. Looking back, it had to have appeared as somewhat of an oddly curious combination. She strolled into my aisle, all freshly beautiful and radiant and mysterious, initially oblivious to my existence. I’d spotted her earlier, looking intently at the beauty products as I passed by and did a double take and subsequent slow down. I paused to pretend as though I was reading a box of cereal while I briefly gawked surreptitiously, but decided to keep on going once my eyeballs had their fill. They were hungry, and she fed them well. Besides, I really did have some shopping to do. A friend and I were going shooting that weekend, and I’d gone to the store to pick up a few boxes of ammo, and as a result of having slept like pure shit for what seemed like weeks, I’d also discovered the magnificently dreary prowess of Tylenol P.M. That stuff had proved to be a godsend; without it, I was up all night. The zombies that I’d normally been dreaming about? They must have been missing the hell out of my flesh. But there she was, just two feet away from me; she reminded me, in just the first glance, of all the things that I’d always wanted. All the little perfect, daydreamy shit I’d envisioned over the years, all the imagined moments, carefully cultivated images, and dream induced qualities were right there in front of me in full glory. Five feet something of just pure rainbows and sunsets. I couldn’t help but to stare…fuck it, right? Why put a painting on the wall if it wasn’t supposed to be looked at? At that moment, I thought “Why else is a beauty like that created?” So I looked, and of course she noticed me looking, and I felt a slight tinge of embarrassment as she scoped my suicidal looking purchases sprawled out on the register, bright as day.
We both blurted it out at the same time before we realized that we’d spoken over one another, “What the hell is going on, Sam?”, Sally and I both asked in unison. My hands were still shaking from the shock of what I’d done out there. What the hell would the consequences be? I was a fucking murderer now…I mean, I killed a man…men. But wasn’t it self defense? I had to do it, right? Before I could finish the horror of that thought, Sam was offering us a drink, and walked us over to the bar. We gratefully followed. Five or six people spread out from the shadows and quietly greeted us from a distance, all patrons that had been drinking at the bar when it was attacked by the kids outside; now prisoners in this mess that we were all entangled in. They all looked fucking shell shocked. We greeted each one with a hello and a nod and took Sam up on that drink, and he twisted off the cap and took a long slug of whiskey. He explained how the night began as a normal night…what night doesn’t begin as a normal night, right….and how a guy came in bleeding and screaming and frantic out of his mind. Behind him were two or three friends that had carried him in, pleading for somebody to call the cops. The guy was apparently pretty busted up, so Sam got on the line and dialed the sheriff, and two deputies showed up not long after. “It was a mess, Frank”, he kept saying, then trailed off into silence. “They um, they bit Bobby, Frank”, he said, before he trailed off once more. “The sheriff, you mean?”, I had to ask, just to make sure we were on the same page. “Yeah”, he replied…”Those kids out there…they…they uh….they ate him”.
The words hit me hard, like a fat-fisted sucker punch to the gut. I didn’t know what to say to that…I mean really, what the hell was I supposed to say to that? I couldn’t bring myself to actually say what I was thinking…what I kinda knew to be true. You see, in the movies, they always seem to know exactly what to do, how to handle shit, how to react, how to think…and they’ve got all the right shit to say. So I stood there for a second, well, it seemed like hours, just trying to take all of that in. I tried to digest that mess of a comment as best as I could, and it kept replaying in my head like that shitty song on the radio that plays over and over. “They ate him”. It spun in my head again and again, round and round, and I couldn’t help but swig the hell out of my drink at the thought of it all…and just as soon as I’d finished, I pounded another. Maybe just hoping that it would slam some sense into my mush of a brain and calm the shaking of my hands. I noticed then that I was breathing heavy like some fucking exhausted animal. One more drink…just something, anything to clear the fog outta my head…thick, heavy fog…that kind of dense, ominous mist that you’d see in a scary movie; the kind you couldn’t see two feet ahead of…the kind that let you know that something bad was coming. In the movies, they always say stuff like “those things”, “those creatures”, and they question a situation like this as if they’ve never seen a fuckin’ zombie movie before. Zombies though? There was no doubt in my mind that that’s what was going on. But was the shit real? I mean, c’mon…how? This is real fucking life. How do you wrap your head around fuckin’ zombies? I glanced over at Sally, who was throwing questions at Sam and the others. I noticed that she hadn’t touched her drink. She’ll have a clear head at least. Shit, we’re all gonna need clear heads if we wanna survive this thing. It’s funny, it was almost as if I was asking a question rather than making a comment when I mumbled to the others, “zombies.”