Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thirty-Sixth Entry: You'll Have My Sword

January 2nd

I am glad that we have good sleeping bags, because we woke up to it being freezing today; I'm talking ice on the store's front windows freezing. While it was not quite cold enough in the store to freeze our water or anything, it couldn't have been too far off.

I had thought the idea was to hit the road early, but the others wanted to look around the town, or what's left of it. Of course I was volunteered to stay behind and keep an eye on Sharon, but that didn't bother me since I had things I could occupy my time with other than playing with hot dog wrappers.

Sharon is is a little foggy today, but she pretty much just sat there all morning reading the graphic novel adaptations of “Playing for Keeps” and “Brave Men Run”. She seemed a little annoyed when I tried to talk to her, but this might be a good thing, as she has always hated people interrupting her while she is reading. I wonder if it is easier to cope being like that than being fully aware? I suppose it must be. Maybe I should give it a try, but would the Beth and Gerry be able to protect both of us from Maria? Would they even try?

I spent some time looking around the store this morning, I really wish it was feasible to stay here. At least I would have something good to read for a while. I don't think we could survive too long on boxes of stale Pocky and Ramune drinks though.

One thing that made me feel awkward at the same time as it made me laugh was the zombie display. I have to admit it, the me from a year ago would have wanted some of that stuff. There were hardback volumes of “The Walking Dead” and “Marvel Zombies”, a board game called “Zombies!!!” and like eight expansions for it, and plush zombies with detachable heads. Who would have thought that a display like that would ever be in bad taste?

There was lots of good stuff in their statue display, but pretty much all of it was too big, and where would I put it anyway? I found this really awesome little pewter Darth Vader helmet in there, and it made me sad. I just thought about how Tara would have liked it.

I decided to take the little Vader helmet; I put it in my now rather heavy satchel wrapped inside of plush Death Note that for some reason has a zipper on it so you can open it like a book. What the hell would someone normally keep inside of a plush Death Note?

Speaking of notes (I know, great transition, right?) I found a note in the office, presumably to the store manager, or at least from one keyholder to another. This is what it said:


I don't think there's any point in opening the store tomorrow. I don't think people are going to have much use for comics anytime soon.

My family is getting out of here, and I'm going with them. I have no idea where they think we're going, but after that incident with the bus the other day she just doesn't want to be here anymore. I find it hard to disagree with her; everyone is so pissed off about those kids. It's not like it was really anyone's fault though. I'm sure the driver didn't realize it was one of the undead, and not a living person he swerved to miss. I mean you see a person step out in front of you, do you take the time to make sure they're really alive before trying to not him them? I guess you probably should now.

I'm sure you can come with us if you want. I don't think it is safe to stay here. What happened to Maury proves that. The news is calling it “The Zed Virus” now, you know? They say it's spread by bodily fluids; that's probably how he caught it.

Regardless of what you decide to do, I won't be coming in tomorrow (well, today for you). Please give me a call if you want to come with us, it's not going to do you any good to stay here alone and torture yourself. I really don't want to leave you behind.

Seriously, call me,

I guess Ruth must have never gotten the note. It was sitting right in the middle of the desk like it was waiting to be seen. It seems weird to think that the note may have been sitting there for something like seven or eight months waiting to be read. It certainly had enough dust on it, although that is true for everything in the store.

Another thing I found that was awesome was the store's sword display. Sure, most of them are just display items, but I found some that seem like they may actually be usable. Uruk-Hai swords from Lord of the Rings; they are these big almost cleaver looking swords with the point sticking up on the backside of the blade? There were seven of them, they are heavy, and they seem sturdier than a machete.

I wanted to test one of them out, but there weren't any zeds around (which I am NOT complaining about), so I swung one as hard as I could at the wall. The wall lost, ending up with a good sized hole in it (they can bill me for the repairs), but the sword seems perfect. I know zombie skulls are harder than drywall, but I still have high hopes for this. I also have high hopes that I will not need to put it to any actual test, but that may not be completely reasonable.

Gerry liked my idea about the Uruk-Hai swords (Sabers? Scimitars?). Beth looked at us like we were both crazy, and Maria just huffed and walked away. Sharon thought they were cool too, but then she asked me if I thought they would be good against ringwraiths. I think she may have been joking, but I'm not totally sure.

Beth, Gerry, and Maria came back from their little excursion pretty much empty handed. They had a bag of canned food, a couple of boxes of shotgun shells, Gerry told me that they had mostly found dead bodies, fire damage, and a lot of mess. I told him about the note I found in the office.

“Yeah, we checked out that bus, at least if it's the one we saw on the way in, we checked it out. It looks like it crashed into that gas station, caught fire, fire spread. It's probably why some people left the town,” Gerry theorized.

“I thought that gas stations had emergency cut-off switches to prevent stuff like that.”

“I don't know man. All I know is that there was a fire, and that not you found sounds like the bus caused it. Just another tragedy at the end of the world.”

“That doesn't explain the fact that the stuff we saw on the way in that wasn't burned looked like it had been looted,” I replied.

“So not everybody left, there may still be people hiding out there, I mean it's not unlikely. Just because we did not see anyone doesn't mean they're not there.”

“So why smash everything up?”

“Stupidity? Desperation? Try and make the place look unwelcoming so people like us will pass on by?” Gerry offered, “It's not like everybody has a master lockpick with them like you guys do.”

“A skill from your days as a cat burglar, right?”

“ You know it.”

“So why was this place left alone?”

Gerry shrugged, “Dunno, maybe because there's very little here that anyone would actually need? It's not as if you can fight off the undead with Warhammer miniatures, Naruto statues, or back issues of The Punisher.”

I couldn't argue with that line of reasoning, and if there really is anything more to it I guess I'll never know about it. I doubt we'll ever make it back that way again. It's a shame; that was a really awesome comic shop for such a small town.

We finally got on the road around one in the afternoon, but not before Sharon loaded up a Cowboy Bebop satchel with comic book trades, and mangas. It was still really cold, but it was sunny. We made pretty good time for the first hour. We were still going pretty slow though, having to work around the occasional car wreck, or just abandoned vehicles.

The big problem we ran into was about an hour and a half onto the road where we came to a section of freeway that had been washed away. We might have been able to drive through it, but just as likely we would have crashed the cars, or gotten stuck in the mud even with four wheel drive. I never realized how much work must go into maintaining the freeways. Less than a year of no maintenance and it all goes to shit.

We ended up having to go back, and take a side road way the hell around it all. On the bright side the, the road we took was clear of traffic; on the dark side, it was more pothole than road at parts, and it took us probably an extra hour out of our way. Still, by the end of the day, we knew we were near our destination.

By five-thirty, as the sun was going down, we hit our first snow. We still had a little bit to go to get to Daisy Lake, but if my theory about the zeds and cold holds true, we won't be seeing anymore active shamblers.

This is where selecting four wheel drive vehicles came in handy; there have not been any snowplows clearing the road in awhile. Our slow progress dropped to a crawl. I literally could have gotten out of the car and walked as fast as we were driving, but I prefer to keep all of my toes.

By seven-thirty according to the car's clock Gerry and Maria pulled off the road, and headed into some little town next to the highway. Beth followed them. I never did see any signs saying what the name of the town is, not only was it full dark, but most of the signs were caked with snow.

Sharon, who had been dozing since it go too dark for her to read anymore, woke up as we left the highway, “Are we there?” she asked dreamily.

“No, Sharon, I think we're just pulling off for the night,” Beth answered, and she sounded tired.

“Are we going back to the comic shop?” Sharon asked.

“No, I'm not sure where we're going. Gerry and Maria are probably looking for someplace that looks secure.” I told her.

“Oh, okay.” she answered.

We ended up in the parking lot of a small roadside motel; the sort of place one would normally take a hooker to (not that I am an expert on that), but we didn't want to get lost roaming around in the dark. The sign in the parking lot looked like it had been blown out in a windstorm, but the bowl of matches in the check-in office declared the place to be the “Sno-Ball Motel”.

A sign behind the check-in desk declared “Monthly, Weekly, and Hourly rates available” (like I said, hookers), while others proclaimed “Color TV in your room”, “Local Calls Free!”, “No Checks Please”, and “Check Out Time Is Noon. Failure To Check Out On Time Will Result In An Extra Day's Charge”. A nice and friendly place it must have been.

We must not have been the first people to take refuge here. Some of the room keys were missing from the office, the soda machine looks like someone forced it open with a crowbar, and the snack machine is full of windblown snow thanks to the glass missing from the front of it. Still, the rooms were relatively clean if a little musty smelling.

Beth, Sharon, and I are sharing one room (I actually get to sleep on a bed while Beth is on watch, which will be nice after two weeks of sleeping on the floor), while Gerry and Maria are taking the one next door. There is a door connecting the two rooms, and we are keeping that open.

Gerry wanted to go check out the rest of the motel, even though it was dark. Maria was taking first watch, and Beth didn't want to go with him, but she said she'd stay with Sharon if I wanted to go with him. Since Sharon had gone to sleep as soon as her sleeping bag was unrolled on top of her bed, I agreed.

It felt good to do something other than babysitting. Don't get me wrong, I love Sharon, and will take care of her for the rest of my life if need be, but I still want to do a bit of exploring once in awhile. So satchel on my left hip, rifle slung over my right shoulder, hatchet on my right hip, and Uruk-Hai sword in hand, I went with Gerry.

We didn't need the weapons though; we didn't find anyone, living or dead. We didn't even find anything useful. Whoever was here before us either took their stuff with them, or it was already scavenged by someone else.

Two rooms looked like someone had been staying in them, but had left. There were food wrappers and empty soda cans and bottles. The second room had a lot of small chip bags in it, probably from the broken vending machine.

One room looked like someone had tried to do a Leaving Las Vegas in it. I didn't count, but there had to be more than a dozen empty booze bottles in it. I wonder if they were just trying to escape from reality, or if they really were trying to kill themselves? I wonder if they succeeded; there weren't any clothes, weapons, food, or even any full bottles of liquor left in there.

Room 1 was actually the worst one; it looked like someone was murdered in there (which for all I know someone was). The room looked a bit like someone popped a large water balloon full of blood in there; the bed was one giant dried blood stain, and blood was spattered and smeared all over the furniture and walls. Really, really awful.

I wonder who these people were, where they were going, if they made it or not. They certainly didn't leave us any notes to follow. All I know for sure is that they like chips and booze, and something very unpleasant happened to one of them. That of course assumes it was one group and not just a bunch of individuals using this place as temporary refuge.

Out in the parking lot we found a snow covered El Camino. We cleared off the driver's side window and revealed a face looking back at us. Once we got over the surprise of that, we realized the person was dead, really dead, frozen in the car apparently trapped in by their seatbelt. I think it was a zed, but we didn't take the time to get into the car to get a closer look, we just left it there.

Short of getting to really walk around and get some fresh air without something trying to beat me to death, there was little point in our excursion, but it was kind of nice. I'm not sure if not getting a chance to put my Uruk-Hai headsplitter to use is a good thing or a bad thing. If it doesn't work in a fight I'm going to look pretty foolish... or pretty dead.

Tomorrow we make the final push to Daisy Lake. It's probably only a few more miles really, but having to crawl over the snowy roads will still make it take all day. I hope we find a good safe place to stay. I hope that it's everything that Maria remembers, and that maybe then she'll stop being such a bitch.

Beth just told me she's going to relieve Maria now, so I can use the bed if I want Ahh, a bed, even a cheap hotel bed, will be a nice change from sleeping on linoleum. Now if only the heater worked... and the lights... and the water... and the tv (I'm missing out on that free HBO).


Anonymous said...

Happy trails... can't wait for the tuesday after next. I wonder if a thawed out zed will re-animate?

Void Munashii said...

That's something I thought about a lot, and the answer surprised me a little.