Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thirty-Fourth Entry: The Geek and the Dead

December 30oth


I actually have clothes again! I am wearing something without anyone's blood on it, and while most of the rather limited selection are either too big or too small, and I cannot say for sure that they are actually clean, they are certainly cleaner than what I was wearing. That is a major improvement in and of itself, and worth having to keep my belt tight to keep my pants up.

Gerry, Maria, and Beth have been quite busy gathering up our supplies for our travels while I have been stuck here babysitting Sharon, which isn't to say that I've been totally bored. They may have tales of dashing adventure to tell about searching houses, but I have my own little tale of badassery, but let me stay in order.

Along with the clothes, Gerry also gave me a coat (they all found coats and clothes for themselves too, the only difference is they got to pick and choose what they wanted as opposed to just having stuff picked for them). It's a big thick black pea coat; it's too big for me and goes down to my knees practically, but it is quite warm, and big enough that I could probably wear my satchel under it, and merely look deformed.

Naturally, since I now have a coat as well as some sweaters, t-shirts, and jeans to wear, it was sunny today. I don't just mean the clouds broke and the sun shined through, I mean that it is warm. It feels like it's about 80 outside, but it's probably closer to 70, so I don't really need the coat today. I know it sounds like I am whining about pleasant weather, but it does bring its own sets of problems.

According to Beth and Gerry (Maria hasn't been particularly talkative the last couple of days and was in the back of the store while the rest of us talked), the suburbs are a little worse off than a lot of the rest of town.

“It's just really creepy, you know?” Gerry told me, as we sipped cups of nasty instant coffee “Everything looks like people just left one day. There are cars in the driveways, toys on the lawns; I mean everything would look normal if it weren't for the fact that the lawns are all overgrown and brown.”

“Then there are the houses where the doors were left sitting open, or the windows are broken,” added Beth, “Then there was that one intersection with the car accident that was just left there.”

“Yeah, it was like looking at a sculpture, or a photograph; a moment frozen in time,” Gerry said in what I guess was supposed to be a teacher or artist's voice, “Then there's the bodies. We must have seen forty or fifty bodies lying out there.”

“Rotting out there, “ corrected Beth.

They had brought in a large number of boxes of ammunition, as well as some guns (including what I think is an AK-47, and a pair of MR-15s, the ones that look like M-16s), and a lot of freeze-dried emergency food, so I asked them where that all came from.

“Ah,” said Gerry, “Now that's a good story. We were driving slowly down this one block on Elm Street looking for a promising house.”

“How do you tell a promising house?” I asked,

“There are signs, we noticed it pretty quickly really, “explained Beth, “Houses with open doors or broken windows don't usually seem to have much in them. Empty driveways are a crap shoot, but an open and empty garage seems to be useless.”

“So what do you look for?” I asked.

“Cars in the driveway,” answered Gerry, “I know it sounds bad, but those seem to be houses where the people didn't make it. The gun house was a dead giveaway just from the driveway.”

“Yeah, the guy must have been a total stereotype. There was a this big camouflaged pickup truck in the driveway with an 'NRA for Life' bumper sticker on it. I made Gerry pull over as soon as I saw it.”

Gerry picked up where Beth left off, “This house looked like even the zombies were unwilling to fuck with it. If it weren't for the jungle of a front yard, the rain gutter hanging down over the porch, and the fact that the American flag by the window was all torn up from being out in the weather, you wouldn't know anything was wrong with the world at this place.”

So if it weren't for all the thigs wrong with it, you'd not know anything was wrong? I didn't say that though, I just let them continue with their story.

“So we went up to the door and knocked on it,” Beth told me, “ and then we got down off of the porch in case anyone decided to start shooting at us through the door.”

“Not that zombies generally knock politely.” Gerry stated.

“Or murderers,” Beth added, “but there's no reason to take unnecessary chances, right?”

“So we did this about three times, knocking and then getting away from the door. We got no response, so we listened at the door, and we didn't hear any noise coming from the inside,” explain Gerry, “So we did a quick sweep around the house, and we didn't see anything moving inside.”

“We did see quite a mess through the windows at the back though, so we were still worried that there might be an active zed inside there somewhere,“ Beth continued, “So we go back around to the front of the house, see that Maria is still standing by the van keeping an eye out for zeds or other scavs, and Gerry goes ahead and starts on the door.”

“I get the door unlocked, and it still won't open. The guy had a fucking metal bar across it on the inside. We start going around the house looking for a way in.”

“We really don't want to actually break anything if we can avoid it,” interrupted Beth.

“After spending about fifteen minutes looking for a way in we find that the kitchen window is unlocked. This guy had barred all of the doors, and then left the window unlocked.”

“It was probably his wife that left it open, Gerry.”

“We assume that was his wife.”

“She had a wedding ring on.”

“Doesn't mean she was married to him.”

“Come on, Ger, they matched.”

“Anyway, Beth climbs in through the window and lets me in through the kitchen door. We look around the house, and the living room is a mess, it looks like there was a fight in there.”

“My guess is the wife got infected, turned, and made the mess coming after her husband.”

“Of course the husband is captain gun-nut, so he scattered her brains all over the wall with a shotgun.”

“There was an empty mounting over the fireplace; my guess is that he kept it there.”

“Loaded.” added Gerry.

“Doesn't do you any good if it's not loaded,” replied Beth as it were a perfectly normal thing to keep loaded guns around the house as decoration.

“So what about the guy?” I asked.

“We found him in the basement,” answered Beth.

“Basement? That's unusual.” I said, since as far as I know, basements aren't normal around here, at least I've never been to a house that had a real basement.

“I think it was actually a bomb shelter,” Gerry said to Beth, “The walls seemed really thick, and the door to it was like a two inch thick piece of metal in the floor of the garage. It was sitting wide open though, which was not terribly secure.”

“Well I don't think he went down there with any real thoughts of survival in mind,” replied Beth.

“Which is ironic, because that's clearly what that place was made for. There were just boxes and boxes of those freeze dried meals, and what I'm assuming are military rations.”

“There were also those meals and drinks that heat themselves, which will come in handy.”

“And guns,” said Gerry, somewhat in awe, “The walls were covered in guns, rifles, shotguns, handguns even a pair of AR-15s and some very illegal hand grenades.”

“Which Maria took, of course,” Beth said rolling her eyes, “Hopefully she doesn't blow us up with them.”

Gerry continued, “If any man in Covenant was ready for the end of the world, it was this guy. Which I guess makes it even sadder that we found him sitting on the toilet with a shotgun on the floor, and most of his head on the ceiling.”

“You can prepare for the end all you want, “said Beth, “ but nothing is going to prepare you to lose someone you love. I mean, how do you go on living if your soul mate is dead, you know? Makes me kind of glad I'm single.”

I know she didn't mean anything by it, but those words stung. I tried not to react to them, but something must have given me away. Suddenly Beth's eyes went wide with realization and she started stammering, “Umm, I mean... uh... shit, man, I'm sorry, I didn't mean.... I mean Rupert was my friend and all, so it's not like I don't have any idea , but we weren't like that, so... you know?”

Part of me wanted to let Beth continue squirming, but I put her out of her misery, “It's okay,” I said, trying to smile.

“No, I'm sorry, “ Beth continued, “We've been out doing stuff, and we've just left you here with no thoughts of what you're going through, and then that thing with Sharon the other day.”

“We're all going through this, don't worry about me; finish the story.”

“So this guy was like a super-right winger too, “started Gerry, “I swear the only books in the house were written by Michael Savage, Bill O'Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh.”

“No, there were those NASCAR romance novels in the bedroom, “Beth said with a snort.”

“True, and a whole shelf of those Left Behind novels in the basement along with books about guns and survival.”

“Which we took as well of course,” said Beth, “the gun and survival books I mean, not the Left Behind crap. We filled up the van with just that house, and there's still a bunch of stuff left there. We would need a bus to take it all with us.”

“I found the keys to the door, and locked the place, you never know, we might need to come back and use that stuff,” Gerry shrugged, “If we cleaned out the rotting corpse, that would make a fairly decent place to stay. It's got cots, and a bathroom, and it's about as secure as anyplace I could imagine.”

“We should have moved his truck into the garage and on top of the door, that would keep other people out.”

“Oh well,” Gerry replied, “We're probably not going to be coming back. It's just a shame to leave all that stuff behind.”

With our supplies as full as we can realistically take with us in anything short of a Winnebago (which has been discussed and abandoned as a vehicle that won't get us very far once we hit the unplowed roads up north), the only issues now are clothes and a couple of vehicles, and that is what they all went out to look for today.

For Beth's talk about not considering my feelings being left here with Sharon in her bizarre state (she tried to hug Maria last night. Maria didn't hit her, but it looked like she wanted to. She just pushed her away and warned me to “keep the retard on a leash or else”), she did not volunteer to stay here in my place today so that I could maybe stave off the case of cabin fever I'm getting. I almost wish they had brought back those Left Behind books, I could have used something new to read. Of course today had plenty to hold my interest anyway.

Like I said, it is a nice day outside today; it's downright springlike, and that has brought a set of problems none of us really thought about this morning. We've all been kind of going on the theory that the zeds don't like the cold, hell, our entire survival plan is based on it. This logically means that the zeds do like the warmth, and the unseasonably warm day has brought them out of wherever they had been hiding.

I was passing the time shooting rubber bands at empty paper cups that I had set up on one of the empty shelves when I heard a thump against the window. At first I didn't really even notice it, but it happened again. I turned to see what it was.

“Oh shit,” I said to nobody in particular.

Sharon was standing by the window, and three ghouls were outside, pawing at the glass, trying to get at her. If Sharon noticed they were there, she didn't let on; she just stood there with her right palm placed to the glass and staring off into space.

One of the three zeds, the tallest one who looked like he was probably a biker, maybe even one of the Postmen (half of his face was burnt off), pounded his fist against the glass again, hard. Thank God that display window glass is thicker than the kind of window glass they put in houses.

I was still afraid that he would break the glass, or at the very least draw more attention to us, so I went and grabbed the store's door keys off of the counter as well as a baseball bat, and one of the hatchets that we had collected (well, that they had collected) and headed for the back door. I attached the hatchet's little belt holster to my belt as I walked, but left the top of it unsnapped so that I could pull the little hatchet out quickly.

You're probably wondering why I didn't just use our new collection of firearms to dispatch them quickly. I didn't know how many of those things were up and active in the December sunlight, and I did not want to do anything to draw any more of them towards us. It's one thing to keep those things from surrounding you on the top of a fortress, it's another entirely to try and defend a convenience store.

I went out the back door hoping that there wouldn't be any zeds there since they appeared to be coming after Sharon. I stuck my head out and saw that there was one zed, a small girl, over by the dumpster, but none near the door. I went out into the alley, and made sure that the door locked securely behind me.

The girl, she must not have been more than 13 or 14, heard the door lock engage as it closed, and turned to face me. I think she was checking out the bodies of Vince and Cassie, but I was clearly more interesting to her. She started towards me.

I had forgotten how fast the younger zombies are. I don't really understand why they should be, it doesn't make any sense. The girl came at me at something like a jog, but I was ready for her, bat raised.

As soon as she was in striking range, I swung. It was a perfect homerun swing and it connected with the left side of her face with a crunch, The bat left a sizable dent in her head, and her jaw hanging at an unnatural angle. She staggered and fell forwards onto her knees, and then her face. It twitched a bit, and then stopped moving.

Not taking any chances, I held the bat in my left hand, and pulled the hatchet with my right. I brought it down hard onto the back of the monster's skull, and felt the sound of the skull splitting open. I pulled the hatchet free with some effort, raised it, and then brought it down again on the corpse just to be sure. In the process I managed to fling some of the blackish liquid that seems to pass for zombie blood on myself.

I wonder; if getting bitten by one of the zeds is enough to infect you with the sickness/virus/whatever, what about ingesting it? If some got into my mouth (God forbid, ew!), would that cause me to turn? Would it matter if I had an open wound in my mouth, or throat? Hopefully I'll never find out for sure, I guess.

I wiped the blade of the hatchet off on the filthy remains of the blue Hello Kitty shirt that the girl was wearing, and headed around for the front of the store. Arriving there, I found the three zombies were still there, and Sharon was still standing in the window.

As I watched the biker zombie continue to bang on the window glass I had a moment of wondering just what the hell I was doing. Sure, I didn't want to attract anymore zeds by firing a gun (not to mention not wanting the shoot out the window), but how could I take out three zeds single handedly? I should have brought two bats, one for each hand. Hell, I should have brought a small army.

Oh well, can't do anything about that now.

I ran up to the zombies, the bat raised above my head, and brought it down o the first one, a thin man with dirty brown hair, as he turned to face me. The bat hit him in the center of his skull with as much force as I could muster, and his skull caved in like a ceramic bowl wrapped in a tablecloth.

The other two, the biker and a woman wearing a camouflage jacket and pants (hunter's camo, not military), turned to face me, and lunged forward. Thankfully they were both of the slower adult variety of zed, as opposed to the fast child ones, and I was able to sidestep their charge.

The two zombies hit each other where I had been, and bounced back as I swung the bat. Unlike the first two I took down, I did not get a clean hit with this swing. Instead of hitting her in the head, I caught camogirl in the shoulder. Something in there must have broken, because her right arm dangled limply at her side after that.

I looked around, trying to make sure that there was nothing coming up behind me, and that I wasn't going to back myself into something that would trip me up or trap me. I was good, there was nothing behind me but empty streets, not even any other zeds.

Camogirl was a little bit faster than the biker (also a good two feet shorter), and she came at me ahead of him, her left arm reaching for me. I didn't have room for a full swing, so in effect I bunted. The bat caught her across the chest, and more shoved her back than really hit her. She stumbled backwards into the biker.

The biker did something that kind of surprised me, he shoved Camogirl back at me, and he shoved her hard. Camogirl half lunged, half fell towards me, and I didn't have time to get out of the way. I tried to block her with the bat again, but her left hand grabbed at my shirt.

Thankfully the baseball bat ended up between us, or Camogirl likely would have gotten her teeth on me. I tried pushing her off with the bat, but neither her hand nor my shirt would give up. I pushed harder, using both hands to create as much space between us as possible. Her arms were shorter than mine, so I was able to push her far enough to stretch the front of my shirt.

Biker closed on us, and I tried to turn to keep Camogirl between me and him. If I let him get to my side, I was done for. He reached over Camogirl's head, and I had to pull her with me as I backed up to stay out of reach. I may have longer arms than the girl, but this biker was a fucking giant, almost seven feet at least.

Biker's finger grasped air right I front of my face, which is far closer than I wanted them to be. He apparently was growing frustrated with his inability to reach me past Camogirl, so he changed the target of his aggressions.

With both of his hands, Biker grabbed Camogirl's head, and yanked her backwards. Her head practically disappeared into his monstrous hands. Between my pushing with the bat, and the biker's pulling on her head, Camogirl finally lost her grip on my shirt.

The biker lifted Camogirl fully off the ground, her feet kicking I the air, and her good arm still reaching for me. He looked at the back of her head for a moment, as if he was deciding what to do with her.

I took advantage of the moment, stepped back enough to get a good swing, and swung as hard as I could at Camogirl's head, still wrapped in the biker's hands. The bat connected sollidly, and his left hand let go, leaving Camogirl hanging, now mostly by her greasy brown hair, from his right hand.

Turning his attention back to me, Biker threw Camogirl to the side. She bounced off of the Snacky Mart's big glass window with a thump, and tumbled to the ground. There was a smear of blackish blood on the, thankfully unbroken, window, but she wasn't done moving.

Biker came at me, his hands outstretched, and grabbed my head. His left hand was unable to get a grip with his now broken fingers, but his right hand had no problem getting a grip of my admittedly too long hair. He yanked hard, lifting me off the ground; the pain was almost blinding.

He held me up so that my face was even with his. His milky eyes spoke volumes of pain, anger, and hunger, and a smell that can only be described as putrescent came from his mouth. The smell was not from his breath, as he wasn't actually breathing as far as I could tell. It was more flowing out freely; like the smell from a can of corn you just opened only to find that it has gone bad while still sealed.

I beat ineffectually at his side with the bat, and kicked uselessly as his legs. Theory confirmed today; kicking a zombie in the balls has no effect at all. It not only didn't hurt him, it didn't even piss him off; he didn't even seem to notice.

Desperation started to bleed around the pain screaming from my scalp, and I know that if I didn't do something, this creature was going to get bored with staring at me any second, and take a bite. It was in my desperation that I decided to try the stupidest thing I could think of (although I now realize giving up would actually have been the stupidest thing); I threw the baseball bat off to the side.

The baseball bat hit the surface of the parking lot with a echoing clang, and the biker turned his head to look for the source of the noise. I fumbled for my hatchet, pulled it free, and began wildly hacking away at his left side.

The sharp blade cut through his leather jacket, and into the flesh of his arm, shoulder, side, and whatever else I could hit with it. I could feel the vibrations of the blade hitting bone travel up the small ax, and into my arm.

Biker must not have noticed what I was doing, as he was walking towards where the baseball bat lay on the ground, as if he totally forgotten that he held a tasty meal in his hands. Fine by me, really.

In my wild hatchet swinging, I must have finally hit something that th biker could feel, because he suddenly threw me seemingly halfway across the parking (I'm sure it was only a few feet, but it felt like farther). I hit the ground hard, but I didn't have time to embrace the pain in my head or my body, because even through the tears of pain streaming from my eyes I could see Biker's black leather clad body coming towards me.

I scrambled to my feet to prepare for Biker's attack. As he lurched towards me, I wished that I had a weapon more formidable than a hatchet; a lightsaber maybe, or a minigun, or perhaps a tank. I had to get the bat back.

I lashed out at Biker's hands with the hatchet, and two fingers fell to the ground. I swung at his hands again, and another finger became separated, and that's when it finally occurred to me; if I was going to win this fight I wasn't going to do it by hacking off bits of him because I would fall to exhaustion well before he would run out of parts; I had to knock him down.

I ducked around the biker, and ran for where the baseball bat lay in the center of an empty parking space, re-holstering the hatchet as I went. I scooped up the bat, gripped it in both hands, and charged the biker.

When I swung this time it was not at Biker's head, but at his knee. With a satisfying crack his knee bent inwards, and like a table with a broken leg he fell over to the ground. While he tried to get back up, I brought the bat down on his head, now that it was where I could reach it.

The impact of the bat drove the biker face first into the ground, but it lacked that satisfying crunch that would tell me that the skull had been breached. If there was any doubt about that, the fact that Biker continued to try and get to his feet would have dispelled that quickly enough anyway.

The biker got up onto his knees, but when he tried to get to his feet, his left leg would just bend under his weight, and he would fall over again. If I weren't all jacked up on terror and adrenaline I probably would have found the sight amusing in a sick way.

Instead of laughing I raised the bat and brought it down on the biker again and again. He must have had no real need for a helmet when riding, because his skull was thick. I practically wore myself out hitting him over and over before he finally stopped moving.

This only left Camogirl, who, despite her useless arm, and smashed nose had somehow managed to get back to her feet. She was pawing at the window in front of Sharon with her one working arm, totally oblivious to my beating one of her undead comrades to re-death just a few feet behind her.

I was feeling pretty tired by this point, so I pulled the hatchet from my belt, walked up behind her, and swung the hatchet as hard as I could at the base of her skull. With a squelchy crunch the blade severed the zombie's spinal cord and she sagged, sliding down the surface of the window.

Camogirl's body was twitching, and her jaw was opening and closing wildly, as if she were trying to bite the air. Even though she was now paralyzed, she was still alive (un -alive?).Making sure to keep my hands away from her mouth, I bent down to try and recover my hatchet.

It took a couple of tugs before the hatchet would pull free from the back of Camogirl's neck. I then re-holstered the hatchet, and finished her off with a couple of hard swings of the bat.

Breathing heavily, I looked around at my handiwork under the warm December sun, and felt a surge of pride. I had just taken out four zeds all on my own without firing a shot. Sure I would be dead right now if Biker had been able to focus his attentions a bit better, but he couldn't and I'm not, because

I

AM

BADASS!

Ha!

I looked back at the store, and saw that Sharon was still standing in the window. She waved at me while smiling. For a short moment I thought that maybe she was back, but then I realized that her eyes were still unfocused, she wasn't really looking at me at all, but through me.

Trying not to let Sharon's condition ruin my feelings of awesomeness, I fished the store keys out of my pockets, and let myself back in the front door. Part of me was saying that I should drag the dead zeds around to the back, but most of me said, “fuck it, we're leaving tomorrow anyway.” Needless to say that the lazy side won.

Once I had the front door to the Snacky Mart locked, Sharon launched herself at me, wrapping her arms around me, and kissing me hard on the lips.

“You're my hero!” she proclaimed in a dreamy voice (which is to say she sounded like she was dreamy, not that I found her voice dreamy)

I didn't shove her off, but I did gently pry her away from me, “Don't do that,” I said as gently as I could.

Sharon cocked her head, and looked at me (through me) questioningly After a few seconds she straightened her head out, nodded twice, and turned and walked away. She went back to her sleeping bag, climbed into it, and went right to sleep.

What do I do with her? I want her to be okay, but if she keeps being physical like that with me, I'm liable to do something stupid. I still feel bad just for thinking about it.

The others came back a couple of hours later, just as it was starting to get dark. They too ran into more zeds than we've seen in a long time; certainly more than we've seen in the wild since the coffee run.

I wish I had some of that coffee with me now.

It turns out that Beth, Maria, and Gerry spent their day not looking for a vehicle (they just went to a dealership not too far from Snacky Mart), but getting it operational. I guess that sitting unused for the better part of a year is not good for a car? Maybe they just wanted to get away from my whining.

I'm not terribly surprised to find out that Maria is a car geek, and she spent a lot of the day outfitting our new transports with all-weather tires, fresh oil, anti-freeze, and whatever else it is that cars need (I am not a car geek, can you tell?) while Gerry and Beth kept the zeds at bay.

Gerry says that between him and Beth they probably killed a dozen zeds out there using only baseball bats, a fire ax, and a lump hammer, so while they were congratulatory of my accomplishments, they were not all that impressed. I don't care though, because they probably double-teamed all of theirs which means I'm still a badass.

I've seen our new cars; they are a pair of Ford Excursions, one black, one tan. Both of the cars are fitted with those plastic rooftop luggage pods which the others have filled with fuel cans just in case we have problems finding gas up the road.

We're going to wait until the morning to actually load up the cars with all of our supplies (We are leaving the gas in them though, as we don't want to suffocate tonight). Once we're loaded up, we leave Covenant for colder climates.

Wish us luck!

1 comment:

VoltRabbit said...

Best of luck, until next entry.