The penultimate episode, as Ryan and his friends plot a desperate campaign to escape the wrath of Shotgun Zombie
“Tar” may not come out for a few more weeks, so I’m going to try to bring up pics and back-story Wednesday or Thursday. We’ll see how good I am at keeping promises. (Remember, I’m not.)
This is the second-to-last installment. It’s short, real short. Irresponsibly short, so hopefully the build-up will be worth it. Let me know what both of you guys think.
© Copyright 2011
I actually dozed for a little while. I wasn’t sure how to take that. Either I was becoming exhausted, or I was way too comfortable with the idea of sleeping among splattered zombies. I had a bad feeling it was a little bit of both.
I stretched, checked the time. It was a little after four. Huh.
Steve and Rick talked quietly, while Zach paced like he was on patrol. Something about the fight had awakened a something in him. The mellow he’d cultivated through years of, uh, horticulture, was gone, replaced with what I’m sure he thought of as a killer’s razor sharp instincts. He scanned the windows, the edges where truck met building, the lumps of zombie on the floor for signs of twitching. He was better than a freaking watch dog.
I walked to the bedroom. Meg Henderson had abandoned her shirt altogether, sitting at her desk in a white, lacy bra while she went over something on paper with another man, himself wearing suspenders over a bare upper body. Occasionally she would look beyond the camera and ask some unseen person “Do you think that’ll work?” It looked like they were planning something.
I wanted a cigarette. I wanted to build an alter out of cigarettes and worship the God of Nicotine. I needed a cup of coffee like a pregnant woman needed chocolate and Oprah. I rubbed my forehead, grimaced at how swirly things felt inside my skull.
I opened my phone, texted Mel. “You okay baby?”
I kept the phone in my hand, unwilling to let it go just yet. Maybe she would call. I’d need to be fast, before something, some urgent matter, might force her to disconnect.
I needed to think that. I did. I literally would have died if I even briefly considered the idea that she might not respond. That she might not be able to respond.
She’s really all I think about. Even while I typed all that out, she was the only thing truly on my mind. I need to know she’s out there, alive. Still with me, still one of us.
One of the living.
I close my laptop. I started writing everything down about nine hours ago. It’s nearly five in the morning now. Steve spent most of the night smoking a spare joint Zach had in his back pocket. I think he’s steeling himself up for what’s to come.
Zach, Rick, and I keep watch. Shotgun Zombie has developed an interesting strategy to get to those like me, those who are boarded up and out of reach.
I’m not sure where he got the tow truck, or where he figured out how to work it, but he’s been at it for three hours now. Hooking chains to doors and windows, throwing the truck into low gear, pressing the gas until the brick crumbles and the metal screams. He literally tears the entire wall down, opening up the apartments like mortal Easter eggs.
He’s done this to seven units. Each time there are screams. Sometimes people are able to run past the swarm, just for an instant, before Shotgun Zombie cuts them down in brutal fashion. He’s fond of aiming for the knees.
He’s making his way to us, slowly but surely. He knows there’s nowhere for us to go but to him.
He’s currently hooking up the chains to apartment #8. Gun barrels poke out between boards, firing relentlessly. Most miss, but several hit home. Shotgun Zombie just absorbs them, his heavy body not even flinching against the rifle bullets’ stopping power. I don’t even think he notices them. He is too absorbed in his methodical victory to care about trivial, superficial damage.
“Man, there’s no fuckin’ way we can stay here,” Zach mutters.
“No shit,” Rick snaps. “How the fuck do we get out, though?”
And that’s the million fucking dollar question.
I look around us. So far, I’ve been pretty good at using whatever I had laying around, but nothing I got left looks like it would take us far enough from this hellhole.
Apartment #8, labeled 1309, is torn open, and the dead file in. A man and a woman are pulled out, the woman quickly split down the sternum with a painfully old-looking sickle. Rivers of dark blood spill out of her, while the man is forced to his knees. Shotgun Zombie blows his head off like the guy’s brains are made of party poppers, and the awful, disgusting feasting begins anew.
I look to Mel’s mannequin, consider how well it would hold up against a twenty-mile march through pure, concentrated zombieness.
I think of the mannequin. I think of the extra bags of fertilizer Zach had in the back of the Lowes truck.
Suddenly, I fucking love that mannequin.
“Hey Zach,” I say, my distant voice catching his attention. “How much gasoline did you say you had?”
I type a new status into Facebook: “Leaving today. Mom, Dad, Lyndi, Mel: I love you all.”
Send my parents a text: “Still safe. I love you guys.” No need to worry them for right now any more than I have to.
“This is fucking nuts,” Rick tells me.
“I second that.” Steve, in the back of the truck, loading the .44.
“Admittedly, it has some flaws. But I kinda spun this on the fly, guys.”
“We’re gonna fuckin’ die,” Zach says flatly. There’s a weird Zen in his voice.
“One way or the other, yeah,” I confirm.
In the background, a rhythmic chant is heard on the TV. At WKRP, Meg Henderson is dancing naked on her desk, her arms held overhead, her eyes to the sky. Hey pert breasts jiggle with each jumping step, and she has an improvised tattoo of two snakes coiling around a rose on her right buttock.
Deep male voices repeat something behind the counter. One sounds like a chant, the other a random series of coordinates. It sounds like a code to other viewers.
Shotgun Zombie slowly sidles the truck into place, turning the wheel with a lazy monotony as though he did this all the time in life. He swings it around until its rear faces the building, throws the truck into park, climbs out to start attaching the chains. He has a heavy accent to his motion, a slowness only repetition can breed.
We’re all men at work. The weekend is over. It’s time to get serious.