Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Seventeenth Entry: A Truckload of Trouble

October 1st

We had a bit of excitement during clean-up today, someone sent us some helpers that we didn’t want.

I think I’ve mentioned before that the standard clean-up uniform is blue coveralls, work gloves, and one of those bright orange vests like highway workers or hunters wear. We wear those so if any shamblers happen to wander into the vicinity while we are out there, the roof guards can tell us apart. We also all carry pistols just in case. This has been a working arrangement up until today.

There has been a rise in zed activity around Mallville recently, and after today I am thinking it is not a coincidence. It was unseasonably warm, and we were out there in the parking lot that surrounds the shopping community/fortress like a giant moat of asphalt like normal, picking up dead zeds, and tossing them in the back of the maintenance pickups so we can take them around back and burn them.

There were a dozen of us; myself, Maria, Gerry, and Sharon were all there along with some of the other clean-up regulars. Milton Saxon was again showing off the gold “Rolax” that he looted off a corpse a couple of weeks ago, and Gerry was trying to convince him that there is not normally an “A” in Rolex again (this has become a routine since Milton found the damned thing) when our security escort noticed movement up the street in the mouth of an alley..

“What the fuck?” Security officer Claudia Lapari cursed, squinting to try and get a better look. Claudia was a real security officer, not one of Hashmir’s new refugee militia. She was a short stocky woman with skin a little darker than Maria’s. she’s made it clear before that she was no supporter of Kaur’s expanding the security force, which is probably why she got stuck out guarding us.

Claudia’s comment derailed Milton and Gerry’s discussion, and we all turned to look at the subject of her interest. It was a truck, a medium sized U-Move truck to be a little more precise, and it was slowly rolling towards us.

Claudia pulled her radio from her belt, “Control. We have a truck approaching us out here. Are there any scavenger runs going?”

“Negative. I’ll alert the roof, and see if they have a visual,” replied the radio.

Suddenly the engine of the U-Move roared, and it accelerated at us,” Look out!” yelled Maria.

All of us scattered except for Claudia, who unslung her M-16, and with her back to the truck bed full of rotting corpses, aimed at the approaching truck. When it was only about twenty yards away, she realized it wasn’t going to stop, or turn, and she opened fire.

Her aim was good, the bullets pierced the driver’s side of the windshield. The windshield became an opaque spiderweb of cracks and holes as the bullets tore through it, but it did not slow. In fact it seemed to correct its steering so that it aimed right at Claudia.

“Get out of the way!” yelled Gerry, but Claudia never moved; she stood her ground shooting at the truck, now firing into the engine instead of the windshield.

The U-Move slammed into the back half of the maintenance pickup with Claudia still standing between them. The sound of breaking glass and crunching metal overpowered the sound of Claudia's body being torn apart about halfway up here back, where the edge of the pickup's bed came to.

The pickup spun clockwise away from the impact, and the U-Move was sent up onto its driver's side wheels, before crashing down onto its side, and skidding a few yards. Claudia's torso spun through the air, the M-16 slipping free of her hands, and came to the ground with a foul splat a couple of yards past the U-Move, the rifle clattering down next to it.

Maria went into kill mode, pulling her sidearm, and running around the front of the U-Move. She kicked in the what remained of the windshield, prepared to finish off whoever was driving, and then she just stopped, her pistol still aiming at the driver's seat.

Sharon, Gerry, Milton, and myself followed her, leaving the other six staring at the mess behind the truck, “Are they dead?” asked Gerry.

“There's no one here,” answered Maria with a mix of rage and confusion.

We joined her at the front of the truck, and saw that in the driver's seat was a mass of wires, motors, and batteries. A metal arm connected the steering wheel to one of the motors.

“That's a radio control setup!” commented Adam Raven, who had come up behind us. I only know Adam from the clean-up crew; he's probably in his late thirties, maybe early forties, and he has unkempt reddish-blond hair.

“How do you know?” asked Sharon.

“In my past life, I used to love playing with RC planes, and you see that little black box taped to the back of the seat? The thing with all of the wires coming out of it?” Adam asked.

“Yeah,” replied Milton.

“That's a receiver. Besides, how else could someone have done this? Mind Control?”

“Why would someone want to send a giant radio controlled truck at us? That seems like a lot of work to just kill one or two people?” asked Maria.

“Maybe they didn't plan on it being disabled so easily?” asked Sharon.

“Wouldn't that mean that whoever was controlling it was close enough to see us?” asked Gerry.

“They'd have to be close enough to get a clear signal to the receiver, and yes, to steer it effectively, they would need to have a clear view of us,” explained Adam.

We all started looking around, as if we expected to see the person who murdered Claudia standing nearby holding a controller. Of course we saw no one. Whoever it was was probably inside a building where they could see us through a window, but we could not see them unless we knew where to look, and we didn't.

“Hey, I think there are people in here!” I heard Darius Tariq yell from behind the truck, and it was true, we could here something moving around in the back of the truck.

Before we could make any move to stop him, or even join the rest of them at the back of the truck, we heard the door start to slide open.

“Shit!” yelled Darius.

We got to the back of the truck in time to see five or six arms clutching Darius, and pulling him into the back of the truck. Darius was a big guy, but he was caught by surprise, and never had a chance to fight back before they had him. He screamed as the undead started devouring him.

After Darius disappeared into the darkness of the truck, pale undead hands groped out, grabbing at the sliding door. Even sideways, the door slid easily as the zombies pulled at it, rolling “up” into the ceiling of the back of the truck.

The light flooded into the back of the truck, revealing 20 zeds, all of which were wearing orange vests, just like us. I may never know how someone managed to dress the undead, but I can guess why.

“Oh shit! They dressed like us!” observed Milton.

Maria still had her gun in hand, and started firing into the back of the truck as the zombies started to surge at us. Four of the zeds dropped from head wounds by the time she was out of bullets; with the three that were busying themselves with Darius' now silent body that left us thirteen active zeds (no, I did not stop to count them then, I counted after)

“Shoot them or run!” ordered Maria, backing away from the truck now that her weapon was useless.

The zombies flooded out, and one of them latched on to a blond girl whose name I do not know. None of us knew her name, she was quiet and never really talked to us. Now she never will.

Biff Brown, a doofy guy with a blond buzz cut reacted instantly, he pulled his gun and fired at the zombie. His aim was nowhere near as good as his reflexes, as his shot missed the zombie completely and instead tore through the blond girl's throat. She tried to scream, but that just made blood spray out of her neck.

During all of this the roof guards never fired a shot. The official explanation is that they could not tell us from the zeds since we were all wearing orange vests, but I think I could have been able to tell the difference down my scope at that distance. Whether I could have gotten a clear shot or not is another question.

“Step back from them, and shoot!” yelled Maria, again trying to get some control on the situation. It worked somewhat. Gerry, Sharon, and I backed a way a few steps, and started taking aimed shots at the zeds.

Eventually Milton, Biff, and a couple of other followed our lead, and what started out as a chaotic mess ended without anymore casualties.

By the time security finally showed up, we had killed all the zombies, and put bullets in the heads of Darius and the blond girl before they could reanimate. We had forgotten about Claudia, and it was a member of the security force that put down her already reanimated remains. She had been trying to crawl towards us with her shattered arms, leaving a trail is glistening blood and who knows what else on the pavement like the world's most disturbing snail.

Earlier tonight, a bunch of us met in my apartment. Myself, Sharon, Alex, Gerry, and Maria all crammed in my tiny place. Alex and Sharon took the couch (of course) while Gerry and Maria sat at my kitchen table, and I leaned on the edge of the wall separating my kitchen from my living room. I don't know why we did not meet at Alex's place. His has to be at least as big as Tara's.

“So you think Kaur's behind this?” asked Sharon.

“I don't know if he is directly, but there were a number of people out there that do not like him, and it was someone who knows that we have you guys where the vests so the roof guards and security can identify you from a distance,” answered Alex.

“I still don't accept that bullshit about not being able to tell us apart,” cursed Maria.

“I thought they would take the chance to shoot us,” offered Gerry.

“It wouldn't be hard to tell us apart. The people holding guns are the humans, the people eating other people are the zombies. Not that difficult,” I said,

“ I talked to Mike, and he says that his people are saying they did not want to risk shooting any of you. Give Biff's quick-draw act, I cannot fault them for that too much,” replied Alex.

“So you don't think that Kaur, or someone under him, told them to hold their fire?”asked Maria

“I think that there are enough people on the roof who are not Kaur supporters to make it unlikely. I don't think some of those people would have even followed such and order, let alone keep quiet about it.”

“Have you had any luck in getting a meeting with the council?” asked Gerry.

“No, they're still refusing to talk to anyone. For some reason Kaur has their ears, and Kaur alone. It's really starting to fucking piss me off!”

There was a knock at my door then. The room went silent; I think we were all expecting it to be Kaur's security force coming to arrest us all for dissension or something.

After looking at each other for a few seconds, I decided that I had better answer it. When I opened the door, I found myself suddenly being yanked through it, and arms were thrown around me.

“Were you hurt?” asked Tara as she squeezed me.

“ I'm fine. What's wrong?” I managed to force out enough air to say.

“ I was off all day, and I just heard about the attack. I heard three people were killed, and I was worried about you.” she said, releasing me, but keeping her hands on my shoulders.

“ How were you that out of the loop? That was hours ago?”

She gave me a pained look then. After a moment, she hugged me again and said,” Because you're all I have.”

“I'm sorry,” I said, and I was too. I hugged her back, and even though there is nothing like that between us, it felt good. It felt the way it feels when I hug Sharon.

“ What's going-” Sharon stuck her head into the hallway, and saw Tara and I hugging,” Oh, excuse me!” she half yelled, and pulled herself back inside.

“Shit!” I cursed softly.

Tara pulled away again, this time letting me go, ”What? There's nothing going on between you too anyway.”

“There are other people in there, and she'll tell them, won't she? They'll all think we're together, including Alex,” I explained to her.


1 comment:

Katie Lauren said...

For some reason, Slack from Land of the Dead comes to mind whenever I think of Maria. (not to undermine your character, lol)