Friday, September 19, 2014
IN THE FLESH: PART TEN
Carson Ryder: Former marine/Former police officer/Suffers from retrograde amnesia/ Searching for clues to his past
Damien Albright: Found and saved Carson/Has no family or friends outside of the group/Doesn’t seem to have a care in the world
Kenny Sudrow: Former spa porter/Happy to be doing something else
Chuckie Razzano: His only concerns are his Rolex and his hair gel
Chase Crawford: Religious zealot/Loner/Keeps to himself
Willard Pickman: Scientist/Worked for the CDC/Knows of a cure
Eli Burton: An enigma
Vern Sheldon: New associate/Drives a box truck/Carries a badass flamethrower
Terry Watts: Proprietor of the Starlight Hotel
Arnold Vesti: Biters got him
Regis Whitfield: Biters got him
Devin Morris: Strangled in his sleep
Darren Mays: Shot by Damien Albright/Claimed that Carson arrested him at one point
Trevor Virden: Biters got him
Brent Blaze: Vern Sheldon shot him after he got bit
Ally Burton: Attacked by a lone Biter
Janice Whitfield: Committed suicide
IN THE FLESH
By Daniel Skye
Day One Hundred and Forty.
Eli Burton was a natural. He and Carson had used several wandering Biters for target practice, and Eli didn’t miss a single shot.
“What do you think of this guy, Terry?” Carson asked as Eli loaded a fresh magazine into his semi-automatic handgun.
“He’s skinny as a rail,” Eli replied. “I don’t think we have to worry about him feeding us human flesh anytime soon, that’s for sure. He’s not a threat like Dennis Pinkle, that’s also for sure. I think he’s just a lonely guy who wanted some company.”
“But why won’t he let us on the second floor? I mean, it’s not like there’s limited space. There are plenty of rooms to go around.”
“Yeah, but it’s not all bad. We have the entire first floor to ourselves. He doesn’t bother us much. He gives us our space. And maybe that’s all he wants too. Space. I’m sure once he gets to know us better, he’ll invite us upstairs.”
“Time will tell,” Carson said, reloading his shotgun.
It had been several days since they took up residence at the Starlight Hotel, several days since the heartbreaking discovery of Janice Whitfield’s body.
No knew for sure why Janice decided to take her own life, but the group all had their own ideas.
Terry Watts had expressed his sympathies and allowed the group to hold a proper burial on the grounds. He even showed his respect and took hand in the proceedings, helping carry the makeshift coffin that Vern had constructed with supplies and spare wood from his truck.
Vern, Willard, and Kenny all said a few words. Then the otherwise laconic Chase Crawford said his share.
“I know I don’t say much,” Chase admitted. “I usually keep to myself. But I had a soft spot in my heart for Janice. Every day and every night I said a prayer for her and her unborn child. I say a prayer for each and every one of you. I do it because, well, you’re all that I have. This group was all that Janice had, too. And now she’s gone, and I’ll miss her.”
Chase poured the first shovel of dirt over the casket and the rest of the group took their turn.
They had no choice but to look beyond this tragedy. Their survival depended on it. So they grieved for an appropriate stretch of time, and then things rolled on.
Carson and Eli were standing just outside of the floral carpeted vestibule when Damien approached. “Gasoline is scarce,” Damien informed them. “I reckon we’ve got enough fuel to make it out to Arkansas. After that, we’ll be dead in our tracks. And the canned goods and preservatives we have are only going to last through the winter. We’re going to need more supplies.”
“So what do you propose?” Carson asked.
“I say we go on a little scavenger hunt. Comb the area, see what we can find. There’s got to be something that someone left behind.”
“I’ll come with you,” Eli volunteered.
“Thanks, but no thanks,” Damien said. “You’re a good shooter, but you’re still green. You could get us killed out there. You take that new gun of yours and watch over the hotel. Kenny will come with us.”
A stricken Eli watched from the vestibule as Damien and Carson set out with Kenny in search of supplies. He was alone when Chase Crawford approached.
“I know what you are,” Chase said with disdain.
“A handsome young man?” Eli replied.
“You’re the kind of man that was willing to let his sister get devoured by that monster, Dennis Pinkle. You’re the kind of man who’s not even sorry she’s dead. I watched you during Ally’s burial, just like I watched you at Janice’s. You didn’t shed a tear at either. You didn’t even sigh when we buried your own sister. You’re a demon.”
“I think you forgot to take your meds, grandpa,” Eli said. “I’m no demon. No hell-spawn. I’m flesh and blood, just like you. But if I am as bad as you think I am, why come to me? Why not warn the others?”
“The others don’t listen to me,” Chase said. “They just write me off as some religious nutcase.”
“Exactly,” Eli said. “And that’s why I’m going to let you live…for now.” Eli gave him a rough pat on the shoulder and left him trembling in the vestibule. He was alone now, and it reminded Chase that his isolation could be his downfall. If he didn’t learn to open up and trust the others, there was no way to convince them what they were truly up against.
Chase was the only member of the group familiar with the Black Lodgers, so he was the only one who recognized their insignia tattooed to Eli’s shoulder. It was a tattoo of the planet Earth, with skull and crossbones painted over it.
* * *
“Who do you think is still out there?” Damien inquired as they walked through the desolate town. “Movie stars, football players, pro wrestlers, musicians. You think any of them are tough enough to survive a zombie apocalypse?”
“We’ve survived,” Carson said. “I’m sure plenty of others have as well.”
“If any football player could survive this, it would have to be Tim Tebow,” Kenny said. “Nobody has his heart or determination.”
“Oh, please. If Tebow is still alive right now, he’s probably on his knees, Tebowing for his life,” Damien said, laughing at the mental image that conjured up. “Reggie Bush,” he added. “Now that man could survive a zombie apocalypse.”
“My ass,” Kenny said. “Even Aaron Hernandez has a better shot of outlasting Reggie Bush in this world.”
“I wish I could join in the argument,” Carson said. “But I just don’t remember enough about the old world.”
“Schwarzenegger,” Kenny said. “I bet he’s still out there, bashing zombie’s heads in.”
“I can’t argue with that one,” Damien said.
“I remember that name,” Carson said. “Arnold Schwarzenegger. Didn’t he play a robot?”
“Cyborg,” Kenny corrected him. “It was a film called The Terminator.”
“It sounds familiar,” Carson said. “Say, do either of you guys have a cigarette?”
Kenny and Damien shook their heads no. Carson had been craving a smoke since he finished his last pack. He was hoping they find something in the pharmacy, but the place had already been raided, stripped clean. They did find one medical supply kit that had been forgotten about on the bottom shelf of one aisle. They also found a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the same aisle, which they also snatched up.
The next shop they hit was the liquor store. Most of the booze had already been ransacked, but Damien managed to scrounge up a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of scotch. They also checked the supermarket, but the shelves were barren. In the back of the market, Kenny found a sealed box of protein bars they took with them.
“What do you guys miss more than anything?” Kenny asked.
“Right now, I’d kill for some red meat,” Damien said. “A cheeseburger would really hit the spot.”
“I second that,” Kenny said. “Or I’d take a nice, juicy steak. Hell, I’d take both if I could have them.”
“Now steak is something I remember,” Carson said. “And I could definitely go for one of those right now.”
“While were reminiscing, I also miss music,” Damien said. “And women. God, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had sex.”
“I hardly got laid before the apocalypse so it’s all the same to me,” Kenny said.
“You know what I miss?” Carson said. “Running water. I’d love a shower for a change instead of scrubbing myself with a wet rag.”
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Kenny said.
They came upon an underground parking structure and pondered going down. Damien was lugging two empty gasoline cans so they could refuel.
“I don’t know,” Carson said. “The spot could be a haven for Biters.”
“It could be,” Damien said. “But we might have to take that risk if we’re going to make it to Texas.”
“If there are too many, we just bail,” Kenny said.
“Agreed,” Damien said. Carson nodded his head in agreement and they all went down.
No Biters in sight. But there were several abandoned vehicles to choose from. As Damien began to siphon gas from the first automobile, Kenny and Carson kept watch with their weapons.
Kenny heard the unmistakable groan of a Biter and glanced in every direction. He didn’t see a thing, but Carson had heard it as well.
From under a black van, a Biter that’s legs had been maimed, was crawling its way towards them. Kenny spotted it, and thinking on his feet, he fired a single shot. He hit the target, but the shot echoed through the parking structure and almost deafened them.
The blast of the semi-automatic was enough to attract the attention of a pack of wandering Biters, who came staggering down the ramp.
“Better hurry up.” Kenny shouted to Damien. “I count at least two dozen.”
“Do we have enough ammo?” Carson asked.
“Depends on how many there turns out to be,” Damien said.
Carson eyes desperately searched for an emergency exit, but found nothing beyond the grey walls of the parking structure. The Biters had them cornered…
To Be Continued With Part Eleven: LIVE BAIT