Rollie wasn’t surprised when Will road shotgun for Jack. Like usual, he took a back seat to the two men when it came to proving their prowess in this dark, zombie infested world his life had been tossed into.
Rollie didn’t enjoy heading out into the aftermath and tried to avoid it whenever he could. He often got teased for preferring to help Samantha with the dinner instead of heading out on the raids. That suited him fine—he was well used to teasing.
He cried out when the truck bounced over a decaying corpse. Having Will asking him if he was alright only made him more embarrassed. Clenching his fists, he decided then and there that despite his natural inclinations against violence and all things macho, he would do his best to prove himself during this expedition.
He heard Will draw in a breath and quickly realized that his challenge might be coming faster than he expected. Ahead of him was a massive pile up of wrecked vehicles. A sandy drop off on one side of the road and a roughed cliff on the other would make it impossible for them to drive around the obstacle. Undead also covered the area. Like eternal guardians in hell, they marched their listless bodies before the jumbled pile of cars. Bones and skulls protruded from the twisted mess creating a double wall of death.
Jack slowed the truck even as the moaning increased and the zombies headed their way.
“What now?” Will asked. His voice made it sound like he really hoped someone had an answer.
“We’re close to Sabino Canyon,” Jack said. “We could try to find our way around this, but might just run into more of the same. My worry is that if we find water there, without the truck we couldn’t carry much, but at this point we can’t even be sure if it’s flowing. I say we hide the ride and scout it out. If it does have water, then we can take it from there.”
“So we’re going to walk the rest of the way?” As soon as he heard his own timid voice, Rollie wished he could take his words back.
The two men turned and eyed him. Without another word, he grabbed his weapons and when Jack hid the truck, he was the first to head out of the vehicle.
* * *
A half and hour later found the trio heading through the back yards of the luxurious houses that lined the northern foothills of Tucson. The good news was they had remained mostly undetected by the hordes of undead that swarmed the streets. The few that did spot them had been quickly put down by Jack’s sledge hammer and Will’s huge axe.
The bad news was that all the jogging and physical exertion had taken its toll. The blaring unforgiving sun, mixed with their lack of water, soon left even Jack mopping his forehead and struggling for breath.
“There had better be water up there,” Will said as he leaned his back against the side of a house while they waited for a group of three dozen zombies to shamble by on the road below. “With this heat, I don’t think we’d need zombies to keep us from being able to make it back.”
“Could we search some houses for bottled water?” Rollie asked.
Jack answered. “Too risky. The level of danger and time wasted wouldn’t counter balance the potential pay off.” He looked Rollie’s way. “I just want to determine if there is water up in the canyon. If there isn’t, we’ll try that idea, okay.”
Rollie just nodded and they soon set out again.
They hadn’t got too far before a loud moan sounded to their left as they hurried across Sunrise road. Looking back, Rollie gasped as he saw a horde of hundreds of zombies migrating their way. A wall of dirty flesh and snapping mouths stretched across the four lanes of road and spilled into the desert on either side. Glassy eyes stared at them as their moans filled the ears of the breathers. Frantic lurching replaced their mindless stumbles as the endless mass of undead hurried toward them.
“Fuck, we need to get back to the truck!?” Will said.
“You can if you want,” Jack shot back, “but I’m not heading back until I know if there’s water up in that canyon.”
Will growled, but when Jack started to jog to the north, he turned toward Rollie. “What should we do?”
“Follow him. Without water we’re as good as dead anyway. We need to see this through.”
Will nodded and a slight smile crossed his face.
Rollie wondered if Will might he a little proud of him as the three men began to run toward Sabino Canyon.
I hope you enjoyed the first part of Rollie’s dangerous journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath. Come back next weekend for the next part of the tale.