The best laid plans of mice and men right? I hate my fucking life.
Alright so the maintenance dump truck I grabbed started fine, no problem. I gathered up my gas cans, the Sig, the shotgun, and my short sword. It’s the smallest high quality sword I own, and if possible, I would rather use that first. However, driving with a sword sheathed on your hip is really awkward. I totally can see why a cop would take a nightstick off their belt when driving. I wound up just tossing it on the seat beside me.
So I was up early to get down there. About 8am. I’m pretty fortunate in that my girlfriend bought me one of those self winding watches that always stay running as long as you’re moving. You know I bet there are a shitload of these watches that are gonna run forever on the arms of zombies. How weird is that?
So I grabbed a good sized bite to eat (frozen bagel with jelly, can of beans, and two glasses of OJ from concentrate) and set off down the road to the gas station. The campus is pretty high in altitude relative to the valley we’re situated next to. We’re almost on a plateau really. What that means is our road (well, I guess it’s just MY road now) is pretty steep going downhill, and has a few ups and downs. The truck made it about two miles before it started hiccupping and coughing, and came to a halt. I pulled it over after the power steering died (which if you’ve never done it is a pretty herculean task)
Turned the key off, tried to start it, and it tried real hard, but just sputtered and died. Lather, rinse, repeat a few times, and still a dead truck. So I had to make a decision, walk back and scrap the trip? Or walk back, get truck #1, and do it with that one. I’d be missing out on a lot of fuel doing that way, but at the very least it’d be a recon mission. I decided to do that. I got out into the cold morning air and immediately felt some burning fury and frustration. This shit always seems to happen to me. Always the crap that should NEVER go wrong, goes wrong. I should’ve expected this shit.
I started a slow jog. I had 2 miles, mostly uphill, and I didn’t want to gas out on this unnecessary and unexpected jog. I paced myself, and everything was fine until I got to the nice cape home that’s about a half mile from campus. It was on the right side of the road, set back about 50 feet with a long, curved driveway. It had lovely crème color siding and a very nice veranda connecting the garage to the main house. It also had two zombies meandering in the yard , one in the wilting center flower garden, and one right in front of the garage. I only noticed them because I happened to stop jogging right next to the house and glanced absently sideways. Had I not stopped, I would’ve jogged right past them. Well they sure as shit noticed me. When I finally took them in, they were both shuffling with their stiff, clumsy walk at me, arms sweeping, feet dragging.
My cursory examination of them pegged them as a couple. Probably the snooty people who owned this 300k house here in the hills. The guy had a sweater vest for Christ’s sake. In can only imagine the prick he was in life. Fashion notwithstanding, they were a threat, and they were moving pretty good. Their yard tilted to the road and I think they were building steam coming downhill at me. Course maybe I was just scared shitless. I brought up the shotgun, racked up a shell, and was about to drop mom, when I realized I really didn’t want to waste rounds, or make noise. I slung the shotgun once I figured I had time to use the sword (which I’d put on my belt when I left the truck). I drew the sword, and entered into an old fashioned ass whupping. Zombies don’t block or dodge anything, so it’s not like a fair fight if you just keep your spacing. They have zero self preservation. I took off her right arm with a backswing at the elbow, sending her into a wobbling tailspin. Once she stumbled to a stable upright position, I snapped the sword two-handed right into her neck.
Now let me clear something up for un-initiated: beheading someone isn’t easy. There’s a lot of muscle, cartilage, bone, sinew and jazz in the neck, and unless you have a heavy duty axe, or big sword, it’s fucking work to chop a head off. Certainly not like in the movies where a cavalier swing send the head flying and a gout of blood fountaining from the neck. So it goes without saying I didn’t get it on the first swipe. However my strike was pretty high on the neck, and it crushed her jaw completely, as well as knocking her to the ground. She landed face down, and I curb stomped her head from behind. She twitched a few times, and I moved away to address Wally. (I was assuming at some point I would find the zombie Beaver shortly)
Wally was a good five feet away when I came down with both hands on the base of his neck, where it meets the shoulder. The sword sunk in a solid six inches, and lodged in the top of the ribcage I think. It didn’t kill him, but it gave me a solid handle on his movement. I used the grip of the sword to twist him down onto his back, where I kicked his head repeatedly until he stopped moving. Once I felt reasonably safe, I got the sword free, and stabbed him the eye. I know, this shit is grody, but I’m recording history for posterity, so fuck you if you’re sensitive and offended.
Wally and June were down. I gave the area a once over and saw it was clear, and I also saw their garage door was open. Inside said garage was a gigantor pickup truck. A Tundra, gunmetal grey. I slid into the garage quietly, making sure that it was empty, and checked the truck. Quarter tank, keys in the ignition. I gave it a quick once over, and then reached inside to start it. It turned over immediately, and sounded smooth. No hiccups. Smooth.
Fuck walking back for truck #1. This would work, and I’d make do. I took the sword off, hopped in, adjusted the seat, and backed out. In the rear view mirror I caught a brief glimpse of a kid running out behind the truck, and I jerked the brakes. I heard a thunking noise, and my heart dropped. I just hit a kid. After killing the kid’s undead parents. Fuck my life. I was exhausted, frustrated, and suddenly racked with tremendous guilt. I powered the window down and leaned out to look back. I saw a little girl, maybe 10 years old laying splayed out behind the truck. I dropped my head on the window frame and my mouth dried up. I looked again though and the kid had sat back up, and was coming to her feet. It didn’t take much for me to figure out she had been a zombie awhile. Her cheek was missing, teeth showing through, and her skin was a super alabaster color. I was actually relieved to see she was a zombie. I threw the truck into reverse again, and lined up the tires to run her over.
There was a bump, a crunch, and a giant stain left behind in the driveway. With a clear conscience, I drove down the road, off to my original destination. I stopped at the original truck and grabbed the gas cans before heading all the way down the hill. The road was just as clear of cars as it has always been, but there were quite a few tree branches down in the road. Rather than clear them out of the way, I just drove carefully around them. I didn’t want to clean the road out too much for two reasons. First, it is shit a zombie can trip up on. That’s saying something too. These fuckers can get entirely bamboozled by simple obstacles like that. I once watched a zombie walk straight forward for 15 minutes stuck in a playground swing. Damn swing was up around its armpits and it just kept going forward. Probably still there right now. And secondly, any survivors might think a cleared out road leads to salvation, and I wasn’t sure I wanted roommates just yet. Call me selfish if you want, but I’m fucking pragmatic so suck it.
I crept up to the stop sign around the corner from the gas station. Old habits die hard and I came to my complete stop. Mostly just to check out the surroundings, but traffic safety has always been a pet peeve of mine too. I could clearly see movement inside the two houses across the street from the gas station. It was slow movement, deliberate and a little clumsy. Pretty sure it was zombies. I counted at least 6 different shapes moving in the windows. I figured they were stuck inside and wouldn’t be a problem. I slipped into the main road and drove the last 100 feet at about 5 miles an hour. The gas station lot was clear, and the two open garage bays were void of movement. There was a body half under a car on a lift, but it looked pretty ravaged as I pulled up to the pump.
I work like the military in situations like this. Clear the building first, then do your work. I hopped out, sheathed up the sword as I kept an eye out, and headed up the few steps into the front doors of the station. This station was a mom and pop shop, not a chain, and it looked like a house more than a franchise style square building. I pushed the door open slowly, and took a sniff. Always trust your nose. I’ve learned that. Dead bodies and zombies smell wretched, especially if they’re in an enclosed space for a long time. The interior of the gas station actually smelled pretty good. It smelled a little moldy maybe, dusty for sure, but no rot in the air at all. I stepped in once I felt comfortable.
I move with purpose. I’m quick, assertive, and I have good violence of action. (look that phrase up, it’s good shit if you don’t know what it means) I cleared the main store area, which consisted of 4 chest high aisles, and the back room, which was just a glorified janitor’s closet. There was one exit in the back room area, but it led upstairs to the apartment above. I didn’t feel the need to go up there at the moment so I left it shut. No power was on. I checked the cooler doors and immediately wished I hadn’t. The milk inside had gone rancid, and the stench was overwhelming. I actually panicked for a second because it was almost the same as a ripe Zombie. It wasn’t though, all was safe for the moment.
I immediately grabbed a handful of plastic bags from behind the counter and started filling them with everything I could see. My main items of note were pretty fucking outstanding. Soda, chips, and candy. I hadn’t had shit like this since the world ended, and it was long since overdue. Energy drinks, coffee cans, sealed juices so stocked up with preservatives they were good until the next apocalypse, and a whole bunch more of the good old canned sustenance. I filled four bags at a time and made a trip to the truck, setting them gently in the back. Once I had filled the bed of the Tundra with bags, I searched for the keys to open the pumps. Nada. I looked for a solid 15 minutes but found jack shit. Eventually I actually saw the body outside in the garage again and figured I’d check the pockets.
I felt pretty safe checking the corpse because the head was crushed by some parts that had fallen off the car. Looked like the whole ass end of the car had come loose and crushed him. He was also pretty fresh compared to the bodies I’ve seen from the first of the zombie days. I wonder now if he was trying to fix the car to mount an escape? Anyway, he had the keys in his pocket, and it only took a minute or two to get the pump door open, and get the manual handle set in it. It only took me three rotations to get fuel coming out the nozzle. Like an asshat though, I didn’t put the truck on the right side for the gas cap. I filled the four gas cans though, and then pulled a quick U-turn, switching the truck around. As soon as I pulled into the pump again and got out, I heard the car coming.
Frankly, I panicked. Hide? Just stand there? Get the gun ready? My decision was made for me though when the car crested the little hill and drove by me. They stomped on their brakes though, and stopped the car right in the road. It was an import station wagon. Volvo? Subaru? I don’t remember right at the moment. A woman was driving, and a young guy was in the passenger seat. The car sat still in the road for a solid minute before the dude got out of the passenger side. He had a big scruffy nap of hair that looked like a badly trimmed beard that ran into an afro, and he was wearing a heavy flannel shirt and jeans. Reminded me of a hippy crossed with a logger. Funny stuff.
He hopped out of the car and just stood there, looking at me. I waved slowly, and rested my hand on the Sig at my waist. I could see he had a shotgun inside the car, set in the doorframe and within easy reach. I forget exactly what he said after our moment of awkward silence, but it was something like this:
“Uh, hey dude, you okay? You need help?”
And I said, “I’m fine man, thanks. You two okay?” He seemed genuinely concerned, so my guard came down a little. After I said that, he replied:
“There’s actually three of us, we’ve got our son too, he’s only 3.” I remember vividly him looking in the backseat of the car, and I could kinda see a car seat. “Do you have any food? We need food for him, we’ve been looking but we’re low on bullets, and it’s hard to get into stores that way, you know?”
I took my time answering him. “this place is cleared out, it’s safe.” I thumbed at the gas station behind me, “I actually left a bunch of baby food in there too. I’ve got some stuff in the truck here you can have too, just hang on and I’ll dig it out.” I carefully watched his response to that. And honestly, he started to tear up and smile ear to ear.
He could barely get it out, but he muttered something like, “oh my God, thank you so much man.” That made me feel good. I rooted around in the truck, emptied a bag, and refilled it with stuff I knew I had plenty of back at the school. I also felt good because turning the truck around faced me in the opposite direction of the road I would be heading towards when I left. It’s a small detail, but it might point them in the wrong direction. As I did this, the guy asked politely if he could go in the shop, and I nodded. I kept my facing so I could see him, and his wife, who was turned in her seat to watch the events unfold.
About the same time I got done repacking a good sized bag for them he came out with two bags himself. I handed the bag to him, nodded, wished him good luck, and his lip trembled in response. He had tears streaming down into his face. It was then I noticed how filthy and skinny he was. Gaunt almost. He backed away, put the food in his car, got in, and they drove away.
I gave it a minute to digest everything, then got the pump running and filled the Tundra. According to the pump I put about 20 gallons in the truck. Pretty good haul for a Plan C. I checked the pump’s tank capacity numbers and it looked like there was over three thousand gallons of fuel left in the two tanks. Plenty to go me quite some time, the whole winter at the very least.
I did a quick last second check of the garage and found a 5 gallon fuel tank. Score right? I walked it out to the pump and immediately my stomach dropped. The wagon was back, and mom was outside it, coming across the road straight at me, handgun raised in my general direction. She looked… loony.
Nonverbal aggression commonly escalates things. Threatening posture, physical motion, all that stuff. I just slowly lowered my arms to my side as non-threateningly as I could, and let her come to me. I could see she was pretty detached from reality, and was crying just like her husband was just minutes earlier.
Her hands were shaking something fierce as she brought the gun to my chest level and stopped at the back of my new truck.
“We need more food, and gas, and water too. I don’t want to shoot you but I’ll do it for my son. We can’t go on being nice anymore I’m so sorry.” She got the sorry out as more of a guttural choke than a word. I could tell what she was trying to say though. You could see her pleading with her eyes. I forget exactly what I said at that point, but it was reassuring her that there was plenty of food and water, as well as food, and I was more than willing to share it.
She motioned for her husband to come out, and he did. You could feel the fear coming off him though. He clearly wanted no part of armed robbery and it was palpable. He gave her a wide berth as he reached into the truck and grabbed two of my bags of groceries. I pointed out two that I knew had good food in them. He nodded frighteningly in thanks to me as his wife continued to shake with fear and anxiety.
I stayed as calm as I could but things got worse when she started yelling at him to grab more. I knew I could go without the stuff, so I wasn’t about to get into a gunfight with a young mother and father over some candy bars. However, the young man was willing to argue with her over it. They started screaming and crying and she started gesturing wildly, trying to get the point to him that they were going to die if they didn’t take all of my newfound food. It was about that point I saw the zombie across the street moving towards their open car door, and their little kid.
Sternly, not loud, but certainly audible, I simply said “zombie.” Her gun went off. I don’t know if the sound of my voice did it or if she was trying to shoot the zombie or what, but her pistol went off. Her husband dropped like a rock, clutching his chest. The plastic bags filled with food dropped at his side, and tipped over. She wailed at a thousand decibels and dropped on top of him screaming she was sorry. I took a few steps to my left, got a clean angle on the corpse walking towards her car, and fired a single round, splitting its face in two. It fell in the road a few steps from her open car door. Dimly, I could hear the kid start to cry inside the car.
I put the Sig away and went to the guy to attend to him. Immediately I regretted not bringing a first aid kit. I tried calming her down but in the end I had to shove her off of him to check his situation. For being a total shit-show with a gun, she hit him dead square in the left lung. I could hear his chest gurgling when I put my ear to it, and his entry wound was starting to bubble and froth outward. His breathing was becoming more and more labored, and his mouth was filling with blood. He had a hole in his lung, and he would die. He would have no last words.
“You gotta get out of here. He won’t make it, and he’ll try and kill you when he comes back.”
She sobbed, staring at me like I wasn’t even there. I took action and loaded the bags of groceries her husband had dropped into the back seat of their car. Like I said, I didn’t need it, I just wanted it. I did glance at the little guy in the car seat though. Despite the fact that he was screaming in fear, he was a handsome baby. If they survived, he’d be a good looking boy, suitable to proud of. She was sobbing still, but her breathing was controlled. I picked up her pistol and glanced around. No more zombies visible.
I got her up off the ground, brushed her hair back to clear her eyes, and looked her straight up, “I’ll take care of him, now you need to go take care of your son.” She nodded weakly in response, and walked back to her car. I dropped the clip in the pistol, ejected the round into my hand, loaded it back into the clip quickly, flicked the safety on, and handed it to her as she shut her door.
“I’m sorry.” She said.
And the woman and her 3 year old handsome boy drove off. Once I felt comfortable about them being far enough off, I walked back over to her fallen husband. He was just starting the twitches that come right before the reanimation. I slid the sword out and sunk it in one of the eyes that not minutes before were crying in gratitude for the small good deed I’d done for him and his family.
I never got their names.