Thursday, June 12, 2014


Genre: Horror (Zombies)

Daniel Skye 


            Day Six.
            A proper burial was arranged for Devin Morris in Arnold Vesti’s yard. Damien was the one who put a bullet in Devin’s head after he was already dead. They had to make sure he didn’t come back as one of those things. As for who really killed Devin, that was a mystery waiting to be solved.
Kenny “Squeak” Sudrow, Trevor Virden, Carson Ryder, and Damien Albright took turns digging the hole. The group didn’t want to spare the extra blanket, but Kenny insisted it was appropriate to wrap the body in something to make up for the lack of a casket. Once Devin’s body was shrouded by a blue quilt, Kenny, Tyler, Carson, and Damien gently lowered him into the ground.
            Kenny acted as the priest and said a few words over Devin’s grave. Then a prolonged moment of silence followed to acknowledge the loss of Devin and Arnold Vesti. Kenny started shoveling the dirt in, but he was clearly distraught and Carson saw this and selflessly volunteered to take over for him.
            Trevor had a tear forming in the corner of his eye and wiped it away before anyone could spot it. He didn’t want to appear weak in the eyes of his comrades.
            When Devin was finally buried, accusation ran wild. Chuckie Razzano was briefly accused by Trevor, but the group agreed Razzano was too self-involved and more concerned with his Rolex, dead cellular phone, and hair gel. In the end, it was Regis Whitfield, Janice’s abusive husband, who fell under suspicion.
            “You think I killed him?” Regis asked. His voice was quivering a bit. He was actually stricken by the accusation. He was hurt that the group honestly believed he was capable of murder.
            “I think if you’re capable of slapping your pregnant wife around, you’re capable of anything else that floats through that sick, twisted mind of yours,” Damien said.
            “The truth is,” Carson added, “None of us feel safe with you around. We took a vote and we decided you’re out.”
            “You see, democracy does work sometimes,” Tyler quipped.
            “So that’s it?” Regis asked, hopelessness in his voice. “You’re just gonna send me out there unarmed with no supplies? You’re just gonna feed me to the lions?”
            “They’re not lions, they’re zombies,” Chuckie corrected him. He was still fiddling with his mobile phone, popping the battery and SIM card in and out in a forlorn attempt to get the thing working again. Even if he got the battery functioning for five or ten minutes, just long enough to play one app on his phone, he’d be satisfied.
            “And we’re not sending you out there empty-handed,” Kenny said. “We’re not animals. Damien is going to give you a spare pistol and few extra rounds of ammo. There’s a bag I packed for you with food and supplies. That should hold you over until you find a new place to hang your hat.”
            “Would somebody please help me here,” Regis begged. “You,” he pointed to Chase Crawford. “Say something, for Christ’s sake.”
            “Don’t you dare take the Lord’s name in vain,” Chase chastised him. He was the only member of the group who didn’t have much to say about this latest development. He didn’t know Devin Morris the way Tyler and Kenny did. And he didn’t know the Whitfield’s, he only knew of them after they wound up the shelter together. So Chase sat on his cot, still rubbing his crucifix between his thumb and forefinger as if it was his good luck charm. His secret weapon to ward off the evil presence that encompassed him.
As Regis ascended the ladder of the bomb shelter and took the walk of shame, Janice Whitfield couldn’t help but shed a tear. He was a savage brute, but he was still her husband, the father of her unborn child.
“You’re better off without him,” Carson tried to console her. “You have all of us to look after you. I can promise no one will ever hurt you again.”
“You can’t make promises like that,” she said. “Not in this world.”
* * *
By Day Twenty-Five, all power and electricity had been lost. With no lights, no power, no method of communication with the outside world, we had been plunged back into the dark ages of civilization. We were back to the days of utilizing smoke signals to convey messages.
The group relied on candles and flashlights to see and navigate their way around the shelter. But they could see it was time to move on. The shelter had kept them warm, dry, and safe for more than two weeks. But all them cramped in there wasn’t going to work forever. Winter was rapidly approaching and they had to move forward and find a new means of shelter if they were going to survive.
They still had the keys to Arnold Vesti’s van. And they had collected more than enough gasoline and supplies to carry them wherever they needed to travel. The van was parked in Arnold’s garage, and he assured them it would hold up to eight passengers, and all the supplies they could drag along with them.
With Regis out of the picture, that left seven of them: Carson Ryder, Damien Albright, Kenny “Squeak” Sudrow, Tyler Virden, Chuckie Razzano, Chase Crawford, and Janice Whitfield.
Carson figured they could pass through Dorchester and visit his old house, see if they could find more answers to his forgotten past.
Once the van was loaded, they piled in and Kenny volunteered to take the first shift behind the wheel.
“Thanks Squeak,” Trevor laughed as he climbed into the shotgun seat and buckled his belt.
“Laugh it up now because you’ve got the next shift,” Kenny informed him.
Kenny drove down the road and made a left onto Cherrywood Avenue. They passed the McDonald’s where a new horde of Biters had gathered, their rotting faces pressed against the windows.
He didn’t bother to stop. No sense in wasting ammunition, he thought. He just kept driving until he reached the corner of Jerusalem and made a sharp right.
They cruised past the mall, where a huge sign that was strung from the roof read HELP, SURVIVORS INSIDE.
Kenny pulled into the virtually vacant lot. Only a few abandoned automobiles remained. He drove around to the loading dock, as he figured the front doors would be problematic. They busted the padlock of the loading door with a crowbar and Carson removed the chain. He rolled the door up and they entered cautiously.
Chase Crawford had opted to stay behind in the van. They didn’t see the harm as Kenny had pocketed the keys when they exited the vehicle.
They made their way up from the basement and did a full sweep of the first floor. Chuckie Razzano made a detour to a shoe kiosk to treat himself to a free pair of Nikes. Carson instinctually snatched a pack of cigarettes from a stationary store kiosk. He did it without even thinking twice.
He didn’t have any smokes on him when Damien found him. And he hadn’t craved a smoke the entire time he spent in the bomb shelter. But something about that red and white Marlboro pack just grabbed his eye.
Am I a smoker? Carson wondered. I guess I’ll find out if I smoke one of these and don’t hurl.
He pocketed the cigarettes and they moved up to the mezzanine level. They found the abandoned popcorn machine. A pitiful handful of kernels remained at the bottom.
A young girl popped out from a cellular phone kiosk and raised her hands when she saw the guns. They lowered their firearms to show her they meant no harm.
“It’s all right, we’re here to help,” Kenny assured her. “What’s your name?”
“Ally Burton,” the girl said, lowering her arms and breathing a sigh of relief.
“Are there others?” Trevor asked.
“Yes, in the food court.”
“Lead the way,” Carson said with a tone that made it sound more like a polite request than an angry demand. She led them up another floor to the food court, where the other survivors awaited.
Willard Pickman, Brent Blaze, Eli Burton, and Darren Mays.
Brent had discarded his uniform and was sporting new clothes he snagged at Marcy’s Department Store, but he still had his badge pinned to his shirt to indicate he was a man of the law.
Law and order. These were the things Brent had refused to give up on. Brent knew a world without some form of law and order, without some kinds of rules and boundaries, was not a world at all. That would be anarchy, pure and simple. And anarchy was one thing Brent wouldn’t tolerate. Not while he still had a breath in his body. But Brent hadn’t seen the outside world in almost twenty-five days. He had no clue how bad it really was.
Willard Pickman was an older man who practically had the words egg-head stamped across his face. His grey hair was combed over to conceal his bald spot. A livid scar was visible below his right eye. It was a scar he seemed wear as a badge of pride, much like Brent wore his badge.
Eli had the look of a problem child. Dressed from head to toe in black, metal studded bracelets wrapped around both wrists, a studded belt looped around his waist. But he didn’t say boo. He just smiled and nodded politely.
And Carson didn’t know why, but Darren Mays looked painfully familiar.
* * *
            The backdoors of the van swung open and Janice gasped at the sight of her husband and the pistol Damien had parted with.
            “Hi, honey, miss me?” Regis asked.
            “I-I don’t, what, I mean how did you, how did you get here?” Janice was stunned, terrified. And Crawford was no help, he just sat aghast, both hands pressed against his sides.
            “That night that grumpy old bastard Vesti kicked the bucket, I heard them talking about the old man’s van. So I snuck into his house one night through the basement window, strapped myself to the bottom of the van right before you guys took off. I was gonna wait until we got a little further down the road before I made my presence known. But I figure now is just as good as later.”
            “The group will be back any minute,” Janice blurted out. It was all she could think to say.
            “I don’t think so,” Regis shook his head. “They left the loading door open. A whole friggin’ horde of zombies just wandered right in. Your new friends are about to become the main course.”
            Regis raised the gun and Janice gasped again. “Regis…look behind you.”
            “I don’t think so sweetheart,” Regis chuckled. An obnoxious grin had spread across his face. He was reveling in the look of terror etched across his wife’s face. “I’m not falling for that one.”
            “Regis, you need to turn around right now.”
            A lone Biter crept up slowly, its hand stretched out in front, eyes set on Regis. He cocked his head to the side and peered over his shoulder. He turned briskly and fired a single shot into the Biter’s chest.
            It recoiled violently like a rattlesnake and lunged forward as the aforementioned reptile would. A second shot was missed and gun clanged on the ground as the Biter’s mangled teeth drilled into his neck. The zombie dug in and pulled away, the skin of Regis’ neck peeling back like a strip of torn wallpaper.
He crashed to the ground with a heavy thud and Janice snapped the backdoors of the van shut and prayed the group would return safe and sound. Chase prayed with her, albeit silently.
* * *
            Carson, Damien, Kenny, and Trevor held a brief private meeting to discuss what to do with the new survivors. They didn’t bother to include Chuckie in the discussion. He was too wrapped up in his spanking new Nike Airs and fitted baseball cap. He had even snagged an extra bottle of hair gel he found left over in one of the cosmetic kiosks.
            “They’re not our problem,” Damien was adamant. “We have our own people to look out for.”
            “I know how you feel about family,” Kenny said. “But put your personal feelings aside for a moment. These are living people. They’re not infected. They didn’t do anything to deserve this anymore than we did.”
            “May I remind you we have a van that fits eight people and we already have seven?”
            “He raises a valid point,” Trevor said, hating to side with Damien. But he knew the man was right.
            “I saw a few cars on our way in. I know how to hotwire vehicles. We can get them a ride of their own and have them follow us out of here.”
            “That’s your plan?” Trevor asked.
            “It’s better than just saying fuck ’em and leaving them to die here.”
            Kenny informed the new members of the group of his plan and they descended the stairs to the first floor. There, they were greeted by a mob of Biters. They staggered forward, none of them straying from the pack. They all seemed to move in unison towards their main objective.
            Trevor lost count at fifty, but he figured there had to be more than two hundred of them.
            “Is there another way out?” Damien asked.
            “The front doors are boarded and barricaded. It’ll take us forever to get them opened,” Brent told him.
            “No side doors or emergency exits?”
            “They’re all sealed shut.”
            “We don’t have enough ammo to take them all out,” Carson stated the obvious.
            The Biters crept closer and closer, their mouths gaping, blood stained teeth protruding from their black rotted gums. Ally Burton was clutching at her brother’s arm and she couldn’t stop the tears from flowing.
            Carson removed the cellophane from the cigarette pack and plucked one Marlboro between his lips. He used a pack of matches to light it and offered one to Damien, who accepted and used Carson’s cigarette to light his own.
            “I never got to go to Comic-Con,” Trevor sighed.
            “I never got to fuck Kathleen Tighe,” Kenny confessed sorrowfully.
            “I never got to see Paris,” Damien quipped. Even in the face of imminent death, he had to be an ass.
            “Get back!” a loud, booming voice commanded. And suddenly, a wave of orange flames hit the mob of Biters and they parted like the Red Sea.
            A tall, lean black man stood at the entrance to the basement, a flamethrower strapped to his back.
            “Are you coming or not?” he asked.
            Their backs and chests aflame, the Biters stumbled around with no method of extinguishing the flames. Their erratic movements only served to help the fire spread through the mall, as several kiosks quickly caught fire.
            The group moved as fast as they could past the horde of burning zombies. They bolted to the basement and made their way through the loading door and found Regis’s body sprawled out past the dock.
            “What happened?” Carson asked when he opened the backdoors of the van.
            “Son of a bitch strapped himself under the van to follow us here. He was going to kill me, probably Chase too when one of those things got him.”
            “I’m sorry,” Carson said.
            “Don’t be,” she muttered. “Piece of shit got what he deserved.” Carson was happy to hear her finally talking sense.
            Beyond the van, Kenny saw the box truck. Yours?” he asked the man who just saved their collective asses.
            “That’s me,” the man with the flamethrower nodded. Brent Blaze shot him a horrid look of contempt.
            “I’m Kenny Sudrow. People call me Squeak sometimes.”
            “Vern Sheldon.”
            “You know that guy?” Kenny asked in regards to Brent.
“Yeah I know him, but I don’t know his name. You white people all look alike to me.” Vern chuckled to indicate he was joking and Kenny chuckled along with him.
“You guys,” Brent shouted out. “This man has something you all need to hear.”
Brent stepped aside and opened the floor for Willard Pickman. Pickman cleared his throat and ironed out his ruffled shirt with his hands. Kenny imagined him approaching a podium and bit his upper lip to stop himself from laughing.
“My name is Willard Pickman. I’m a scientist. Until recently, I was employed by the Center for Diseases Control. The C.D.C. was the ones who engineered this virus on the orders of the Secretary of Defense. It’s my belief that the S.O.D. intended to use this virus as a weapon in combat. It’s also my belief that the release of this virus was not accidental. It was quite deliberate.”
“What’s the good news?” Damien asked bitterly.
“The good news is there’s still hope. In addition to engineering the virus, the C.D.C. also manufactured a cure. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s in an underground base in Texas.”
“Texas?” Chuckie Razzano groaned.
“Last Chance, Texas to be precise.”
“Never heard of it,” Damien said.
“Nobody has. It’s not listed on any maps. It’s a ghost town. But if there’s any hope of humanities survival, it’s in that underground base.”
“Does anybody know the quickest way to Texas?” Trevor asked rhetorically.
It was decided that Ally and Eli Burton, Willard Pickman, and Darren Mays would travel with Vern Sheldon. Brent asked if he could tag along in the van and Kenny agreed.
            But, before they could head out, Darren Mays–a 6’3, three-hundred-and-fifty pound former linebacker–charged at Carson Ryder with a knife hidden in his boots.
            Damien was faster though and drew his pistol, firing a single bullet in Darren’s gut. He wasn’t going to kill him before they got answers.
            “What was that about, you little punk?” Carson asked. “What did I ever do to you?”
            “You…” Darren coughed up blood. The bullet had struck one of his organs and he was bleeding internally. “You arrested me,” he said right before he died.

To Be Continued with Part Six: Dorchester

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