Icepick knew about a side door. Devon had noted there was a great deal about this AutoZone Icepick appeared familiar with. After he opened two docking bays, the pale thin giant addressed him.
“Once we have the vehicles, we’ll drive them into these loading docks. A few geeks might work their way in here, but once we get the doors shut they won’t be anything we can’t handle.”
Once ready, they opened the side door and each ran to the car lot with a freshly charged battery under an arm. A sliver of moon illuminated the streets, which stretched as dead as the corpses walking across them. As their feet slammed over the asphalt, Icepick looked his way. “The geeks are pretty thin thanks to the fire and screaming, I’m going for that jacked up white Tundra. Keep them off me until I get the battery in. If anything goes wrong, we’ll meet up at the loading docks.”
More than a few things had surprised Devon over the last twenty-four hours, but when Icepick pulled keys out of his pocket and opened the door to the Tundra.
“Got any more of those?” Devon asked. A fat zombie blocked his path and he brought his mace down like a sledge hammer in the center of its head and it toppled over without so much as a groan.
“Nope, just the one. You know how to hotwire right?”
“A couple of times I’ve been forced…” Devon started to say, but Icepick was inside the cab and popping the hood.
Devon cursed under his breath and took up a defensive position. Their allies sacrifice had helped considerably and made the task possible, but it remained far from easy. At least twenty undead slowly stumbled his way.
Instead of waiting for them to box him in, he charged two and took them down with his Mace. Then he moved to the other side of where Icepick worked on the battery and took down two more. The zombies weaved and were uncertain as to which way to go, just to have him change his position again.
While he fought, Devon spied a jet-black Tahoe. Fighting his way there, he set his battery on the roof of the cab. Hurrying back over to the Tundra, he was just able to strike down four zombies about to lunch on Icepick’s legs. “Are you almost done here? It’s going to be a lot harder getting my ride going without the keys.”
Icepick slammed the hood while throwing a glance his way, after a non-hurried stroll into the truck, he started the engine and looked back Devon’s way. “Then I suggest you get moving.”
Devon felt his mouth hang open as Icepick sped out of the parking lot leaving him alone with a locked truck and two hundred gathering undead.
Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath
It felt like they had passed one degree shy of forever, while Devon and Icepick waited for Fines and Duggen to light a fire in the giant wash to their north. As the pair listened for the others, they progressed as close to the Autozone as the crowds of zombies would allow them. They made it within a few hundred yards, but a wide, debris filled, five lane road separated them from the AutoZone and the car lot Icepick wanted them to raid.
The tall man’s pale face regarded him as they found relative safety behind a large dumpster. “We’ll stay here until they fire get started,” he whispered.
Devon only nodded while he prepped his steel Mace and let his pistol ride in his left hand.
After ten minutes turned into thirty, Devon was about to suggest they make a move in a lull between passing herds, but then he saw a glow rising from the wash.
“Looks like they finally got it going,” Icepick hissed. “We’ll give it another two minutes, then make our move.”
Devon waited behind the dumpster as the undead noticed the rising fires in the wash. Fines and Duggen must had created a huge pile, for soon the tops of the flames could be seen rising above the lip of the wash.
A bead of sweat rolled down the side of his cheek, but he made no move to brush it aside. As the time to move drew near, most of the zombies headed toward the wash and the street had cleared. Despite his true wishes, he had to admit, Icepick’s plan had proved successful.
Just as that thought passed through his mind, the first scream tore out of the wash. Devon thought it sounded like Duggen. Duggen’s screams continued. He couldn’t tell if Fines had joined in the screaming because they echoed loud enough to tremble his guts.
“Time to go,” Icepick said and a nano later his long legs ate up the space between the dumpster and the AutoZone.
For a couple seconds, Devon contemplated leaving Icepick to succeed on this own, but then he thought of Tracy, In spite of her betrayal, if he wanted to return to where they lived, he would have to see this though with Pick, at least long enough to the evil bastard fall.
The final item, which tipped the scales was he wanted a ride. Whatever he chose to do, when he returned to the complex, all choices would be easier with a ride involved. He’d hide it in the nearest park if he had to.
A handful of undead lingered in the street, but they dodged past them and Devon took down two which got to close.
Icepick slammed into the AutoZone door and then withdrew a set of keys.
As he fumbled through the keys a drew a silver one free, Devon said, “How the hell do you have keys to this place?”
“Just mind your own business and keep the geeks off me.”
Devon took down four who wandered too close before Icepick had the door open. He noted the screaming below had ceased. For a moment, he thought Icepick might leave him locked outside, but he held the door open and allowed Devon to run inside.
“Alright Avis,” he said with a smile as he locked the doors. “We’ll be safe enough while we charge up two batteries. Let’s do it and get those rides before the geeks work their way back over here. We continue with the plan.”
“Yeah, we all have a plan.” Devon said under his breath.
Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath
Night had fallen over the ill-fated group. It had allowed, with the aid of Devon’s scouting, the party to creep through the back alleys and yards and avoid the larger clusters of the walking dead.
It surprised Devon, when Icepick insisted he switch out and take point, but it also led him to believe they must be nearing their goal.
Making sure Duggen kept pace stayed Fallen’s major goal. Devon respected him for his concern. Duggen’s wound had left the man sweating and struggling to keep up, but after a short break and downing a few bottles of water they found, the man had caught a second wind and appeared more determined to see the mission though…whatever it was.
The midnight hour had passed before Icepick called back to him in a harsh whisper. “Come on, you slackers, we’re here.”
Devon led the way to where Icepick crouched down behind some concealing bushes.
“A fucking mall. You brought us all this way for a mall. What the hell is this, Dawn of the Dead?”
“Not the mall, dumbass. See that car dealership located right across from the Autozone? We scouted it out. The place is full of batteries and the gear you need to jumpstart them. We can each grab a vehicle and load up a couple of trucks with all the batteries they can hold. Once we get back, we can have the biggest working fleet in Tucson. We’ll be able to control this burg.”
The others had caught up and were listening. Duggen said, “But what about all the biters? This area is crawling with them. There must be a thousand out there.”
Icepick’s pale face flashed a grin in the darkness. “Relax, you think I’d come all the way out here without a plan?”
“Well, let’s hear it,” Devon said. “We won’t be ruling over shit by our bodies becoming bite sized chunks of flesh riding in zombie bellies.”
“Simple, we’re right near the Santa Cruz wash. It’s filed with dry bushes and debris. Fallen and Duggen will work around to the wash and light some giant fires. The walls of the wash are forty feet high so they’ll be safe.”
“Once the fire distracts the freaks, Devon and I will break into the Autozone. We’ll gather the rechargers and batteries while Fallen and Duggen make their way to us. We’ll have four batteries charged up by then. We’ll replace the batteries, load the trucks and go.”
“I can see a lot of things going wrong with that plan,” Devon said.
“You got a better one, Captain Cockolded.”
Devon let loose a grunt which was almost a growl. “Yeah, we head back with our lives.”
“So said the pussy of the group.” Before Devon could retort, Icepick ordered the other two men off. Turning back to Devon, he said, “Come on tough guy, come show me if you got what it takes.”
“I’ll be showing you something before the night is over.”
Tune in next Weekend for the next episode of Devon’s mad journey into the second year of the Eternal Aftermath
The blood in Devon’s veins seemed to freeze as the man, who should by all rights be laying dead on the floor, pushed open the bathroom door and stumbled into the bedroom. “Holy hell!” Devon shouted as he rushed to position himself between the bleeding freak and his wife.
Glossy eyes meet his and a string of red drool leaked from the man’s mouth when he opened his jaws in a growl.
Devon reply was to kick the man in the chest. The blow proved hard enough to send the madman once again back into their bathroom.
“Make sure he’s locked in there this time!” Tracy yelled.
“Screw that. I’m killing this fucker,” Devon said, as he grabbed up his baseball bat. The man hadn’t regained his footing before the bat cracked down on the center of his head. But Devon didn’t stop there. He kept hitting him on the head again and again until Tracy begged him to stop.
“Oh Devon, you just killed someone.”
“At least he won’t be getting up again,” but even as he said these words, he half expected him too. A moment stretched where he just stood watching the shattered form of the man while single drops of blood dripped from his bat and stained the grey carpet below.
“What should we do now?” Her voice stayed soft, as if she worried about his outburst of violence.
“I guess we need to figure out what’s going on,” he said, while slipping into a pair of jeans. His boots went on next and as he laced them, he said, “You might want to get dressed. One way or another we might see more action tonight.” He stood up. “Now show me where you saw the fighting.”
Walking to the western window, she said, “It was just over there in that parking lot.”
Devon looked, but saw nothing there. Some thin strings of what could have been smoke spread through the night sky and in the distance the wail of an ambulance could be heard.
He scratched at the back of his head. “Doesn’t seem like too much is going on out there, right now.”
“But what should we do?” she asked. “Should we maybe hide the body or something?”
“I don’t think it’s illegal to kill a person that has been trying to kill you in your own house for fifteen minutes.”
“Yeah, but you’ll have to go to court and hire a lawyer and deal with so much crap.”
“Yeah, but covering up a killing certainly would be illegal.”
Tracy was about to say something when a loud, piercing screamed echoed through the night. “Maybe things aren’t over,” she said.
“Yeah, it sounds like other people are in trouble.”
“Maybe an accident happened.”
“Yeah, but what sort of accident causes people to go crazy?”
She had no answer for that and rushed into his arms when another scream broke the building silence.
“Maybe we should try to help them,” he said.
“No, don’t leave me.”
He smiled and moved out of her arms, but maintained the hold on her hand. “I won’t leave you, but let’s go out on the front porch. If something weird happens we can retreat inside. I just want to see if we can figure out what’s up.”
He could tell she wasn’t keen on the idea, but she followed him to the front door and then onto the porch. Dawn remained hours away and at first nothing unusual was evident. Then he spied movement.
A man wearing hospital scrubs was chasing two young women across an apartment parking lot. They made it to a car and rushed in. The man slapped his hands twice against the windows before the car tore out of the parking lot.
He felt Tracy tense when the man’s turned toward them and began to stumble in their direction.
Check in every Saturday for a new chapter in the Eternal Aftermath!
Devon turned the fan up one level higher and then hopped back onto his bed. Since his wife lay on the sofa, having passed out after drinking the healther half of a bottle of wine, he had decided to read a few pages of the horror novel his brother had given him.
In the novel a warrior fought against different races of serial killers as he rode across America on his motorcycle. The hero of the novel was dealing with two beings that killed people by possessing their bodies.
Devon had just reached a creepy part when his wife appeared out of the shadows behind him. “I just heard someone knock on the front door. None of your dumb-ass friends is supposed to drop by are they?”
He groaned. Only got two damn pages read. “What, at eleven? On a work night? No.”
She flowed into his arms, half silk, half flesh. “Whoever it was knocked like three times.”
He smiled down at her. “I’ll go check, why don’t you get into bed.”
She smiled back. “Be careful, but if it’s one of your friends kick their ass.”
He rolled his eyes and headed past her into the hallway. On a lark he grabbed the folding knife he had bought at the gem show. Drawing near the door, he flicked it open. Bear chested, with just a pair of jeans on, he still felt the heat of the Tucson summer when the door opened.
The hot darkness attacked him like a living thing. Nothing lingered on his front porch or in the yard other than gravel, dirt, and two large palm trees.
After shutting and locking the door, he headed back inside. He thought about grabbing one last beer, but then saw Tracy had already turned off the bedroom light. Pausing only long enough to flick off a few lights, he soon joined her.
As he set the knife on his dresser, he wondered if she’d be ready for some fun, but his short absence had proved long enough for her to fall asleep again. He had to work in the morning anyway, so he figured he might as well just call it a night to.
She rolled onto her side and said, “Hold me.”
After adjusting his pillows, he joined her and took her small body into his arms. He didn’t hold her forever and rolled onto his back. After a little tossing, he drifted off
Something might have woken him up. He couldn’t be sure. Darkness still claimed the land.
A loud thunk sounded from the back of the house. He froze still and listened. He heard something else and then a loud tinging sound as a beer bottle bounced onto the kitchen floor.
“What is that?’ she asked.
He shushed her.
“Did you lock the back door?” She asked.
“What difference does it make,” he said under his breath,” you can just pull the damn thing open.”
A second later it was on him.
The tall dark shadow felt wet as Devon pushed himself away from the growling man.
It came at him again.
Being naked didn’t help him feel more secure and holding up the blanket between him and the figure just caused the brutish man to tear it aside. Tracy had already tumbled off the other side of the bed and Devon joined her. When the growling freak got onto the bed on all fours on their bed, Devon grabbed the mattress and lifted it as high as he could. Once he got it three feet of the bed, he pushed forward, with all his strength, and the man hit the floor. Devon kept pushing until the mattress fell on top of the guy.
It kept growling and Devon saw that instead of being stunned, the man had already begun to crawl out from under the mattress.
Then he remembered the knife he had left on the dresser.
Tracy had already fled into the bathroom and had turned to light on.
The light helped him see his knife, but it also helped him make out more of the man as his intruder freed himself. The first thing that stabbed into his conscious was the blood. The man’s shirt dripped with strings of blood. The side of its neck looked torn away.
He had two thoughts, what sort of madness is this and this guy should be already dead.
With a yell, Devon jumped onto the mattress. This pinned the man’s legs for a moment and allowed Devon to grab his knife.
But then the bleeding man grabbed his ankle.
Devon pulled free at the cost off ribbons of his flesh being flailed away. “Son of a bitch,” he yelled.
“Devon, hurry in here.”
He suffered a moment of indecision and then hurried into the bathroom.
She locked the door seconds before the man’s large body collided with it. The door shook.
Devon flicked opened his knife. “Great, now we’re trapped.”
Check in next Saturday for the next Chapter of Eternal Aftermath!
You can explore more of the Eternal Aftermath here!
“Can I get one, Mary?” Cindy asked as Mar pulled a smoke from the pack. Cindy smiled as she dropped her backpack onto the ground, so she could adjust her almost illegally short skirt.
“It’s Mar, now,” she corrected, as she pushed her jet black bangs back behind her ear.
“Mar, oh you’re so Goth.”
Ignoring her statement, Mar continued, “And if you wanna smoke, try buying your own pack sometime. These cigs are worth like fifty cents each these days.”
“It’s only because you buy those snob cigarettes,” Jenny said. “Mine don’t cost that much.” She blew out a thin steam on smoke through her trim nostrils and Mar wondered for the three hundredth time if her parents had already started buying Jenny plastic surgery treatments at sixteen, as if being a petite blonde with perfect teeth wasn’t enough.
“And you just smoke menthols, because no one in their right mind wants to bum one of those foul things,” Cindy said.
Mar was just lighting up her smoke when a loud yell cut through her annoying friend’s chatter.
“What the hell was that?” Cindy asked, posing like some fashion model with her smoke dangling. Mar figured she’d be posing even if the end of the world came. When the scream sounded again it wasn’t like a cry for help as much as sounding like someone being torn in half.
“Oh my God,” Jenny said. “Should we call someone?”
“Yeah, do that,” Mar said, as she peeked her head around the dumpster that obscured them. What she saw caused the cigarette to tumble from her mouth.
Just on the other side of the school’s fence, a woman had been walking her dog. What might have been a homeless guy looked like he was tried to kiss her neck, but as Mar watched, his head came away with a big bloody chunk of the woman’s flesh in his mouth. The woman stumbled away as a torrent of viscera streamed from her torn neck. The dog moved in to protect its master and the grimy, and now blood covered man, reached down, picked up the dog, and bit one of its eyeballs out.
“What’s going on over here…?” Cindy started to say until Mar emptied the contents over her stomach all over her Cindy’s new strapless heels. “I my God! You freak of nature.”
Neither of the two other girls had focused enough to really see what had happened yet and Jenny said, “I’m like trying to call nine-one-one, but the lines are busy. Is that even possible?”
“What’s the matter, can’t find eleven on the phone,” Cindy said, before turning to Mar. “And what about my shoes. You’re going to have to—what’s that man doing to her?” was followed by Cindy erupting into the highest pitched scream Mar had ever heard.
Where Mar found the courage to look back at the scene she’d never know, but once she saw what happened there, she would forever wish she hadn’t. The man was on top of the woman, just eating her. His victim’s arms flapped with insane violence, but they had already begun to slow down.
Cindy pushed past her, running toward the school and that was when the fire alarm went off. It could have been the only thing that would have caused Cindy to hold up.
“What now?” Jenny began, but then finally had her eyes leave her cell for long enough to see the man on the street and what he was doing. Her scream sounded girly and cute even at its volume and though her terror, Mar still thought, it figures.
Mar went back to watching the woman. After not moving and looking quite dead, she started to sit up and almost casually pushed the homeless man away. Despite his earlier violent ways and fighting through her frantic struggles, this time he allowed her to move him away and didn’t stop her when she began to struggle to her feet.
Mar felt torn over what to do, but since they were required to enter the courtyard and they were already there, she looked back at the man on the street. And she saw something strange.
Her eyes opened wider and her face clenched with terror. She didn’t even notice that Jenny was screaming again.
Before her eyes, the woman stood up as though having twenty bites taken out of her was just an average day. But what drew in Mar’s gaze was how her bowels and internal organs fell from her torn open stomach. Intestines flopped onto the ground like greasy ropes, but the woman kept walking.
Mar knew she should run, run home and never leave her house again, but something made her watch.
The man joined her as though they had become best friends and both of them lumbered to the fence. The man proved faster, but Mar’s eyes stayed glued to the woman.
Jenny joined Mar in vomiting up her lunch when the woman tripped over her own intestines and fell to the ground. With her right hand, she violently tore away the offending organs and began to open her mouth in the most horrid way. The man had made it to the fence and rattled it while his milky eyes met Mar’s gaze. Then, opening his mouth, he let out a hollow moan.
Soon the woman had joined him as the fence. Jenny tried to shake her and yelled something and that was when Mar heard the first screams come from the courtyard.
Check in next Saturday for the final chapter of Lock Down Bite Down!
So far, Devon’s idea to lead the zombies deeper into the cafeteria had not proved fatal. He and the sheriff held the door at the front of the food serving area. They fought back against the quickly massing group of undead, while Fosters and the girls scouted the exit back into the main room.
“It’s working,” Emily hissed at him. “They’re all coming toward you. The left side of the caf, is mostly clear.”
“How about that hallway we need to get to?” He yelled back as his machete cut through half a co-eds neck.
“They’re still coming out, but I think we’d have a chance.”
“Good,” Dells shouted, “Because I don’t think we can hold out here much longer.
“Emily, start across the caf,” Devon ordered. “Get ready Dells. On three, one, two, three!”
And then they ran. Foster and the women had a got head start, but the half dozen zombies in their path quickly slowed them down. The undead on the right side of the cafeteria let out a loud moan and as one mass moved at them. If his group didn’t move fast, they would be cut off by over fifty of the walking dead.
“Don’t fight them, just go.” Devon yelled.
He saw Foster use his bat like a pole and push a Walker into another one that had moved to block their path. Emily would pause to put a bullet through a head, but mostly just ran. Strangely it was Becca that now led the way and she seemed to take great pleasure in swinging her bat into as many faces as she could as they passed through the unturned chairs and gory tables.
Devon and Dells had now caught up to Emily and they rushed through the door that led into the hallway past the cafeteria. Right behind them came dozens of wax faced teens who stretched their arms forward while their mouths snapped open and shut in anxious anticipation of sinking their teeth into warm prey.
There weren’t as many Walkers in this hallway, but it was narrower and harder to just dodge by them. “This way,” Beeca screamed and took off running until she reached a girl in a dress covered with thick black stains. She paused only long enough to smash it in the head and kept going. A zombie wearing a football jersey grabbed her by the hair, from behind , and moved in for a bite until a bullet from Emily’s rifle caused its head to explode in a spray of rotten matter.
“Becca! Slow down,” Dells called as he tried to catch up with her.
The horde was exiting the cafeteria behind them and Devon stopped long enough to block their path with a long folding table and then hurried after the others. He tried to stick close to Emily and guard her back as she picked her targets.
She stopped again to try to make a shot, but the undead were right behind them, so Devon grabbed her arm and rushed her forward. “Come on! I can see the library, let’s go. I just hope that really is where that bastard keeps his weapons or we’re screwed!”
* * *
The courtyard of the makeshift complex went silent as the small convey entered. Mar’s feelings of dread increased as she took in the surroundings. What had once been a large series of apartment complexes had been surrounded by the high walls she had seen from outside. In some places, the apartments themselves made up part of the walls or were used the anchor them. The large parking lot was centered in an area where the walls had been constructed further away from the complexes and new structures had been added. Some looked utilitarian, while others appeared odd and their possible purposes she could only guess at. The most obvious of these new structures and clearly the one that dominated the others was a giant church.
This church had to be five stories tall in some places, but where most churches she had seen were stream-lined and had a logical plan, this one appeared strange and chaotic. Long turrets loomed over walls made from miss matched scraps. It had more doors and windows than any ten normal churches, but what really had her nails digging into the palms of her hands was the symbol painted in red on the front of the structure.
Mar was no expert on such things, but she knew a pentagon when she saw it. It had two of its five point angled toward the sky.
In a way that reminded her of the zombies just beyond the walls, the crowd of people moved in and slowly surrounded their vehicles.
“We’re so screwed,” she whispered.
A feeling a dread built within her soul, as the small convoy approached what Rik and Trent claimed was a safe house. The place looked more like a medieval fortress to her. Huge walls had been constructed from what might have been demolished homes and the like. These haphazard walls stretched twenty feet into the air and were surrounded by several hundred Walkers. Fires burned every hundred feet or so and as the sun dimmed down behind Gate’s Pass, she could see figures moving before this scattered flames.
“Sure doesn’t look like the place is deserted to me,” Mar said, as a chill caused her to shiver uncontrollably.
“That could be a good thing,” Jonathan said. “Looks like a secure spot to me. Don’t worry, people always welcome a doctor.”
“I have a bad feeling.” She grasped his arm. “Please just turn around before it’s too late. If the others want to throw their lives away, that’s their business, but we still have time to escape!”
“Marry, relax, will you. Not everyone is evil. And escape where, I might add,” he said while turning his older face toward her. “We’re going to see this through. Look they’re helping us. Those horns of theirs are herding the zombies to the other side of their fort. We should be able to enter easily.”
“That’s what I’m afraid off.”
* * *
They were finally prepared and as Spencer looked out over the simmering desert, he discovered that it was just soon enough. His eyes squinted against the glare, despite his shades, as he tried to take in the lumbering mass of undead that plotted toward them.
They came by the score, maybe four hundred in all. Their clothes hung in rags that were black with filth. They looked thin to the point where he wondered how they could still be moving. Although some here and there looked well feed and figured that was Hades doing. He wouldn’t put much past that freak.
His eyes shifted back to the quickly constructed trap before him. Two miles past the ranch, a narrow cement bridge spanned a deep canyon. It was just wide enough for Spencer and Brown to have parked two pickup trucks facing each other in the center of the bridge. Over these vehicles that had secured four by eight plywood boards and covered them with motor oil and any other types of grease they could dig up.
When these fly-bags come for us, they will try to climb over these puppies and get a big surprise, he smiled to himself.
All of those people that had remained behind were there with him, including Haeds and Spencer seriously hoped that he would be taken down a notch by being forced to watch his precious ‘family of zombies’ tumble down into the ravine below.
He knew this could still be a difficult battle, ten people versus four hundred Walkers, but it was his sister and Devon that his thoughts kept clinging to, even as the undead army neared.
* * *
They had only made it halfway across the large cafeteria when Devon last pistol ran out of bullets.
“Why the hell are there so many Walkers in here?” Emily yelled, as she fired her rifle close enough to a zombie to be sprayed by its gore, after its head exploded.
“I think he stored his reserves here,” Becca shouted, as her bat cracked into the head of a zombie that couldn’t have been older than fourteen when it died. Despite their efforts, there had to be over thirty undead still lingering within the cafeteria and more poured in from the hallway every few seconds. “My evil shithead brother was always hung up on high school, because he was such a loser here. Even though he’s twenty-four, he never moved past it.”
“Great,” Devon mumbled as he drew his machete. Three girls, who might have been preppy before the years of decay set in, lunged toward him. He fenced forward, stabbing one through its rotten face. Another got to close and a well placed kick sent her tumbling into the third and they both went down. He was able to finish them off before they regained their feet, but others were coming at them from every side.
Officer Dells picked up and table and heaved it into a large group that blocked their path. “Retreat!” Devon yelled. “Fall back. Draw them away from that hallway and we might be able to circle around and make it through.”
“Unless more keep pouring out of there,” the sheriff shouted.
“I guess we better hope they don’t,” he growled, as be led the others toward the kitchen.
* * *
The punker tiffed. “Yeah cuz zombies are so fucking smart.”
“You’ll see, you little prick,” he replied, while straining against the cuffs.
“I should burn your eyes out with my smoke, you butthole. You’re nothing but a wanna be super villain and about the worst one I’ve ever seen. Even the Toad would kick your ass.”
“Oh yeah, I’ll remember that while my family is crewing on your bones.”
Both men fell silent as the horde approached the plywood covered trucks. How well these losers and some to be meat pie’s trap would work was about to be tested and Haeds gritted his teeth as the front of his army started across the bridge.
Mar clutched the door handle until her knuckles turned white. Undead lurched at them from every direction as they raced over the cluttered pavement. Half of the SUV Jon drove was already covered with black blood. She yelled when a head smacked the windshield in front of her.
“I don’t like this,” she said. “We shouldn’t be heading back into the city.”
“Mitch knows what he’s doing. You’re safe, honey.”
Honey huh, she thought to herself. This seriously sucks, even when I was a slave to the Rippers, at least they kept me from having to deal with this shit.
“Where’re we supposed to be going anyway?”
“Mitch and some of the others knew about some safe farms northeast of the city. Places that were built up, but then abandoned. They’re far enough out that any zombies that show up, we should be able to deal with.”
Jonathan’s handsome dark face moved left and right as he tried to avoid hitting the walking corpses. He was so nice to her. She would like to think it was because he thought highly of her and not because she was just young and cute and one of the only girls left alive in Tucson. “We might not move in, but it’s good enough for now.”
“How long has it been since someone else has been there? How do we know that it isn’t crawling with zombies or some other group hasn’t moved in?”
“You certainly seem to be on the paranoid side, my dear.”
“Don’t give me any of your psychiatrist crap,” she said. “Being paranoid is the only thing that has kept me alive.”
“You don’t have to worry now, I’ll protect you.”
“Yeah, I’m sure a hundred Rippers living behind razor wire thought they could protect me too.”
“This is different, they were evil. Besides we’re smarter than them.”
They were smart enough to capture you. “So how far is it?” she asked, just trying to distract herself from the gruesome collisions.
“About thirty miles, but we’re taking these northern roads so these Walkers shouldn’t get too bad.”
“What about the others? How will they find us?”
“Marry! This driving isn’t easy. Please try to support me and don’t ask me a million questions right now.”
She hunched forward. He gaze turned toward the window and the jagged angled forms emerging from the gathering gloom. They had no regard for their own safety and would fling themselves at the vehicles, the flesh. I hate them almost as much as I hate myself.
They followed the glowing taillights before them. A car skidded off the road when it ran over a concealed tire rim. It crashed headfirst into a parked car. The zombies were all over them before the group could do anything. She thought they would try to help anyway. They didn’t. The convoy moved on. It made her wonder what she really hated most.
* * *
The pain lingered like a sledge hammer. Haeds had been talking to himself for a while. “How could that asshole have done that to me? He cut off two of my fingers—that shitkicking prick! Well, there’s plenty of things he has two of.” He laughed at his own joke.
“Wait till my family comes, you idiots. You should have left with the cowards when you had the chance. Idiots. Fools. Fuckers! Gods of darkness, how I hate cowboys.” A string of curses escaped his lips while he fought against the ropes that bound him. More ropes held his legs to the chair.
“I could probably escape if I wanted to, you pricks. But why bother? I want to be here when my family is swallowing chunks of your flesh.”
After more mumbling and cursing to himself, Haeds heard the sounds of things banging around outside of the sweltering shack. Could they already be here? No, that’s something else. Besides there’s no way my family could have gotten here this fast.
He tried to listen harder. The wait grew vexing, especially when he had no clue as to what happened on the other side of the dry planks. About half an hour later, he heard maybe two vehicles start up and some shouting, but he couldn’t make out the words. He might have heard someone counting to three.
“What the hell is going on out there? All this not knowing is driving me nuts. They should know better than to do this to me. I’m the new God of this age, the king of the desert, the lord-”
“Of the, oh so, shitty pants,” the teen, Spike, said. “Damn, it smells like crap in here. You must have really shit yourself. I’d let you use the bathroom um…” the annoying boy leaned his face in closer. He hadn’t removed his shades and they were a little big making him look like a hyper fly. “If I didn’t HATE YOUR GUTS!”
“You can’t talk to me like that!”
“I’ll talk to you any damn way I like. Because of you, I haven’t seen my sister for a day. And Devon and I are best friends. If something happens to either one of them, I’ll beat you every day for a year and then I’ll slowly eat your arm off so you’ll know what it feels like, you freak.”
“You talk like that and call me a freak?”
“How old are you, twelve.”
“I’m fifteen now, you piece of—oh hell, you aren’t even worth it.” He turned to go, but called over his shoulder. “I just came in here to let you know we figured out a way to waste your,” he used that asinine finger-quotes gesture, “family.” He reached the door and opened it. Night had claimed the land.
“Soon all your precious zombie pals will be nothing but rotten hamburger. And when we’re done, we’ll check your home town for beer, a-hole.”
The door slammed shut.
“He must be lying. There’s nothing these handful of idiots could do against my main army.” He paused. “Still they’re going to try something. I’ll need to try to stop it any way I can. They’ll be sorry they didn’t try to kill me when they got the chance. Not that they could. I’m a bloody God now. Even zombie bites don’t kill me. Soon I will rule the whole desert. They could have bowed to me and asked for mercy. I would have given it to them. I would have.”
An evil grin spread across his blood splattered face.
“But it’s too late now.”
“It kinda makes you wonder why we ever lived in the zoo, huh,” Spencer said, as he wiped his forearm across his grimy forehead. Even though Spencer had only just turned sixteen, Devon still considered the young man his most loyal friend. “Besides that, shooting that wild cow was the best. I hadn’t had a good steak in five years!”
Looking out over the dusty ranch, he watched two vultures slowly circling before he answered. “In some ways you’re right. Living on the other side of this mountain pass is sure keeping the random occurrences of Walkers down and…” as if cursing his words, a group of three lumbering zombies appeared through the waves of desert heat.
Spence followed his gaze. “Crap, should I get Brown or something?”
“Come on, since when can’t we handle three zombies. But remember, no shooting. We don’t want to attract more or maybe something even worse.”
The pair had been working on repairing the barbwire fence, so Devon snatched up the sledge hammer he was using. Spencer preferred his steel baseball bat, which rarely left his side. They moved past the half ruined fence to meet the zombies.
The faster one lurched forward and Devon’s sledge hammer took it in the cheek. It spun in a drunken circle and fell. Devon knew the thing might still need to be finished off, but the other two came stumbling at them. Devon went old school and tagged the zombie in the knee. It had some kind of uniform on, but he didn’t get the chance to read the label before the zombie tumbled to the ground. Two seconds later, he had smashed its head open and its putrid brains splattered over the desert like a rotten watermelon.
Spence had finished his off as well. “Nice work, Spike, I’ll just finish this wounded one and we can-”
Suddenly Spence fell back cursing, while his left hand clutched his shoulder. “What the hell. Something just hit me really hard!”
“Were you shot?”
“I think it was a flipping rock!”
Shouts rang out, disturbed the desert’s silence. “What have you done?” A figure was racing toward them as it shouted. “Those were my friends!”
Devon and Spencer were too stunned to speak. The figure was still a hundred feet away, but they could see that he was completely garbed in black, even his face was covered in some sort of mask. The figure’s left hand held what Devon guessed was a sling slot. His right was drawing a pistol off his belt.
“Shit, get down,” Devon yelled. Spence didn’t need to be told twice and they each turned to run, but that was when the injured zombie grabbed Devon’s ankle. Devon was put off balance and almost fell. The zombie attempted to drag Devon’s leg toward its mouth even as bullets began to zip around them.
“What gives you the right to kill them? They were mine!”
“This guy’s nuts,” Spencer called out and started to return fire with his Glock.
Devon hurried to finish the zombie, but when he looked up the mad figure was gone.
“I think I see him. I’ll finish this fu-”
“No, let him go.” Devon said, while resting his hand on the young man’s gun arm.
“Why, he was trying to shoot us, man”
“He sounded pretty confused. Maybe he can be reasoned with. We don’t have too many breathers left.”
“That guy didn’t seem to have much reason left. Remember when we tried this, save everyone in the world idea, before. I got a broken nose and you almost got dumped head first into a cement pit.”
“Yeah, but something strange is going on here. How can someone be friends with zombies?” He rolled the zombie that had been attacking him over. “San Migual Sheriff Department, isn’t that on the other side of the Catalina range?”
“Yes, and that makes sense since he was coming at us straight out of the desert instead of from the pass that leads into Tucson.”
“Like I said, there’s something going on here and I intend to figure it out.”