Monday, August 25, 2014

All The Other Kids With The Pumped Up Kicks

Will was allowed to drive again, and he felt pretty confident about it this time. They loaded up some extra gas cans, moved the barrel barricade, pulled out of the fort and parked the truck, ran back in and re-barricaded, then went back out through the front gate. This way Kat and Eve weren't stuck re-barricading themselves while Eve was still operating with a broken arm.

Travis sat next to him, calmly giving him directions up to the highway while Amanda and Ben rode in the truck bed, the truck topper having been left behind for the time being. Once they reached the highway, though, Travis took over driving, and Will joined the other two in the back.

They pulled up to the first blockage, a minivan and a couple of sedans that had struck each other at low speed. Travis stopped the truck but kept the motor running, and Amanda stood up on the roof of the truck with her bow and arrows ready. She had learned gunshots would bring the biters out, so while she carried a gun in a holster on her right hip, she preferred her compound bow.

Ben motioned to Will and they went to work putting the blocking vehicles into neutral and pushing them off the road. After the last sedan rolled unevenly off to the side and there was enough space for Joe's truck to pass through, Ben and Will hopped back into the back of the truck, Amanda sat down with them, and Travis slowly pulled forward.

We just need to clear a wide enough path for a couple vehicles to get back and forth with supplies. When we get up to the hardware store, we'll look for another truck with the keys in it and a tolerable amount of mess. We may have to jump it or refuel it, but we're prepared,” Ben told Will.

Can I drive one of the trucks home?”

Next time. This time we're going to be running late.”

Will shivered, worried about losing the daylight that the biters avoided.

They don't mind the cold,” he said. “On the way to the Fort, we found one sleeping on the ground, no blanket, just outside in the November air.”

I wasn't sure if they slept,” Ben said. “But single biters sleeping out in the open are not going to be able to keep warm over the winter. First strong freeze...”

I hope so,” Will said fervently. “But then again, the way they heal, come spring thaw...”

This time it was Ben who shivered.

Time to shut up and move cars,” Amanda said, pointing ahead to the next blockage, a truck on its side.

Come on, Muscles,” Ben said as Travis pulled to a stop. This time Travis hopped out to help, leaving the truck door open and the engine running. Amanda climbed up to stand on the roof again, vigilantly.

They rocked the truck up on its tires, it was still bouncing a bit when Amanda hissed “Ben, confirm, directly south. Single.”

Ben hopped up on the hood as Travis motioned to Will to be silent. The two of them pushed the truck quickly onto the shoulder.

Behind them Ben kneeled on the hood, below Amanda's firing level, and searched where she was pointing with binoculars.

Definite biter,” he said. “Take it down.”

She shot before he even finished the sentence. Will strained to see where she was aiming and saw the figure stagger as a second arrow struck it, then fall as a third hit it, three feathered spikes centered in the creature's chest.

“That may not kill it,” Travis said quietly to Will as Ben and Amanda searched for any more nearby. They'd found over the last couple of weeks that the changed creatures were solitary; they'd never found a biter with another biter it wasn't trying to kill and eat. “If it bleeds enough fast enough, or if she got more than one in the heart, maybe. It will stop it long enough for us to be away before it heals enough to rise, though.”

The trip to Home Depot continued on slowly; stopping, moving obstructions, Amanda ever watchful and swift with her bow if she saw something and Ben confirmed it was a Red Flu rioter. A pedestrian overpass that had been damaged and fallen across the highway caused the biggest slowdown while they cleared away enough to fit the truck through. They used an off ramp and came back to the Crosstown Highway via the on ramp to avoid an overpass, Ben being of the feeling bridges could be a dangerous place to get trapped so they should avoid being on them if they could.

The small group, sweaty and tired, arrived at Home Depot at last well after noon. “We won't have much time, so if you want to go to Target and get some things, then Amanda can go with you,” Ben told Will.

First see if there's any vehicle here with keys inside that will be driveable,” Travis said. “Drive that up by the doors, and grab what you can in an hour and a half, no more. It's nearly two, and the sun will set before five this evening.”

“We'll buzz if we need you,” Amanda said, tapping the walkie talkie hanging from her belt. These were set to be silent, but had a vibrate function.

Same to you but more of it,” Ben said.

Same to your face, dumbass.”

Same to your mom!”

Travis sighed. “I'm sorry,” he told Will. “They never grew up.”

Travis and Ben swept the hardware store to be sure no surprises that could kill them waited there, then set to loading the truck up with supplies. Amanda and Will searched the few cars sitting in the parking lot and found a bright red minivan with the keys laying on the ground just outside the driver side door, mixed in with some scattered shreds of bloody clothing.

Poor bastard,” Will whispered, and Amanda patted his shoulder. The van started right up, so they drove it up to the front doors of the Target sharing a parking lot with Home Depot.

We go in together,” Amanda said. “Keep your weapon in your hand.” She indicated the iron-topped hoe, the one Will had grabbed to replace the one he'd broken killing the zombie in the visitor's center.

The aisles were clear of animals or humans. Housewares was remarkably clear of damage, though the food aisles were trashed. The freezers had been off for more than a week now, so there was definitely a smell, though the cold temperatures had kept it from being too overpowering. Most of the food was gone from the fridges and freezers in the grocery area, anyway.

The doors to the storage area were broken and hanging, and Will pulled up short. He held up his hand like he was in high school still trying to get his teacher's attention. Amanda stealthily came to stand beside him and he pointed.

There was a smell they couldn't place coming from the darkness there – heavy, musky, a little sickly sweet. She motioned for him to be still and crept forward until her eyes could adjust to the darkness.

She signaled to Will again to be still, and moved silently forward into the darkness, staying where he could see her. Before she could move out of his line of sight, she motioned him forward, stopping him as he reached the darkness just inside the broken doors.

From here, once his eyes adjusted, he could still see her as she moved farther into the darkness. She made no noise as she climbed up onto a counter, peering farther back.

Huddled near the rear of the room, behind some pallets of boxes, she could just discern a crouched huddle of sleeping Red Flu rioters. There were five that she could make out, potentially more inside the huddle. They were curled into a sort of sitting fetal position, their bodies all angled inwards and their backs out. Amanda was reminded of the segments of an orange for some reason. Their backs moved in almost a flutter as they breathed.

Breathing slowly and carefully, she climbed down and motioned to Will to follow her out of there and to the front of the store.

I think we have trouble,” she said as soon as they stepped outside. “There's at least five biters in there, sleeping in the back room.”

I thought they eat each other,” Will said, disturbed.

That's the trouble,” she said. “Killing each other off gives us more of a chance they'll die out fast. Assuming no one else ever gets Red Flu.”

Should we go tell Ben and Travis?”

Yeah, because we're not going to be able to kill them off alone, there's too many. And they need to see this.”

We're going to kill them? Today?”

Sooner the better. We need the supplies, and they'll attack as soon as they wake up.”

Will nodded. Though the food aisles were trashed, the cans were intact. They needed the food before the roads became impassible and before more people came to the Fort.

Ok. I'm ready.”

Follow orders,” she said sternly, and he nodded again. “Ok, let's go get the dudes. And get set up for a much bigger battle than we're used to.”

1 comment:

  1. Left on the edge of my seat yet again. This is the only reason I look forward to Mondays.