Monday, October 4, 2010


I didn't realize it until I'd finished the piece, but this week's entry is a a sequel to a story I wrote A year ago this week (new window). Plenty of zombie tension and action await in the sequel to "Preparations".

Aaron Matthew Smith- September 2010

“How does it open?” Donny asked, squatting down next to me.
“You ain’t never seen an ammo box before, dipshit?” Sam asked, crouching next to the two of us.
“Shut up,” Donny said.
“Both of you shut up!” I said, leaning past the two of them. The trunk of the old Buick station wagon had nearly been sheared off in the crash and revealed a gaping hole in the old car. Heavy, waterproof steel boxes of ammunition were scattered across the road. Some of them had shattered and scattered their contents all across the battered highway, now littered with crashed and abandoned cars. Many of the boxes, however, were still in tact and sealed shut.
“And who made you the leader of this outfit, Mike?” Sam argued not because he disagreed but because he liked to argue. I didn’t dignify the statement with a response. In a moment the ammo box was open and we started sorting through the bullets.
“Ugh, mostly shotgun shells. We only have one shotgun.” Donny said.
“Are the keys in the ignition?” I asked. Sam walked around to the front of the car.
“Yeah,” he shouted, “but it’s smashed. No way we can drive it outta here.”
He came back around and started helping Donny and me sort through the ammunition in the rest of the boxes.
“I still can’t believe we ran out of gas,” Donny said, casting a forlorn glance at the Volvo we’d taken from the pawn shop manager.
“Well, we couldn’t stop at that Gas-N-Go back down the road. There wasn’t anyone there to activate the pumps.” I said.
“They never run out of gas in the movies,” Donny said.
“If this was a zombie movie, we’d already have run into three hot girls also on the run for their lives.” Sam said. The three of us grinned.
We took a few minutes to gather all the ammo we could carry and then headed down the abandoned highway. It least this part was exactly like I always expected. There were cars here and there, some that seemed to have stopped where they were driving, most off of the road along the shoulder or occasionally in pieces all over the road where they’d hit other cars. I couldn’t hear anything. There was no traffic noise, no animal sounds, nothing. Donny rifled the 9mm out of his backpack and cocked it, and the sound sounded like a shotgun blast in the silence.
“We’re getting close,” Sam said. “That radio broadcast said that there’s a military outpost in Pittsburg. We can still make it before nightfall if we hurry.”
“But we don’t know where in the city it is,” I said. “How are we going to find it without a car?”
“There’s a car!” Donny said, pointing to a red Explorer. It was stopped in the middle of the road, facing the wrong direction in the right hand lane. He started jogging toward it.
“Donny, hold the fuck up!” Sam called, taking off after him. “We’ve got to check it out first.” I followed the two guys to the driver’s side door of the SUV.
“Ah geez,” Donny said, stepping back. As I approached, I noticed the middle-aged man slumped over the wheel. There was blood all over the windshield, like his face had just exploded all of a sudden.
“Looks like the tank’s nearly full,” Sam said, all but ignoring the corpse at the wheel. “Let’s drag him out of there and get this show on the road.” He yanked open the door.
The guy at the wheel made a guttural sound and lurched up in his seat, blood spraying from a ragged wound on his neck. The three of us screamed and leapt back, guns flying from holsters into our hands. The guy at the wheel turned to face us, and I gasped. The whites of his eyes were completely red, like all the capillaries in his head had ruptured. He hissed and growled, trying desperately to get out of the car but got tangled in his still buckled seat belt. It was the first time we’d encountered one of them this close.
Sam cocked the twelve-gauge shotgun and took a step forward. Then he emptied both barrels into the guy’s face.
“Jesus Christ Sam!” I cried, clutching my ears with both hands. The interior of the Explorer was covered in gore. Sam’s blast had all but removed the guy’s head from his shoulders.
“What?” He said, his unconcern causing my skin to crawl. “We needed a car. He’d have killed us if I hadn’t killed him.”
I closed my eyes against the mess I the car as Donny stepped up to help Sam clear the body out of the car. I’d never killed anything before. I’d never even seen a real dead body before, outside of a funeral.
That was when the rear driver’s door opened up and a teenager hobbled out.
Of course. The guy behind the wheel hadn’t bitten open his own neck. Someone in the car had attacked him while they were driving.
The guy looked about my age. His eyes looked just like his father’s, completely red where they should’ve been white. He stumbled out drunkenly and stood there for a second, just staring into space. I tried to call out, but my throat was suddenly parched and no sound would come out of my mouth. Donny and Sam were still concerned with the corpse in the drivers seat.
Then the guy turned and saw me. His mouth opened and he howled, a sound like a combination of a hyena and the shriek of tearing metal, the kind of sound that should never come from a human throat.
Before the sound finished, I’d plugged nine bullets into the creature’s head. The gun was in my hand before I’d realized it, and the next thing I knew I was squeezing the trigger and no more bullets were coming out. Sam and Donny were shouting something in my ear, but they were ringing from the shots and I couldn’t hear them. The guy who’d climbed out of the backseat was in an unmoving heap on the concrete. I felt their hands on my back pushing me into the back seat, and I allowed myself to be lead into the car. I didn’t have the wherewithal to stop them.
I wasn’t worried about the blood in the car. The three of us seemed to be immune to the disease for whatever reason. Sam was wiping the gore off of the windshield with a t-shirt, and Donny was checking the glove compartment.
After a moment, I realized the car was in motion and I was starring out the window. We were back on the road to Pittsburg.
“Turn on the radio,” I said. I wanted to hear the military broadcast again. Anything to reassure me that out there, somewhere, life was still going on as normal. Donny fiddled with the radio, turning the dial all the way left, then slowly all the way to the right. Then, he did it again.
“Nothing,” Donny said. “I can’t get the station.”
“Stupid shitty old radio,” Sam said.
“What if that’s not it?” I asked. “What if they’re not broadcasting?”
“Why would they stop the broadcast?” Sam asked. He glanced at Donny, then in the rear view mirror at me. We were all thinking the same thing.
The engine roared as Sam floored the petal. It was still an hour to Pittsburg, and we were running out of time.

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