DAY 21

I spent the morning finishing off the building’s top floor.  I had one close call when I entered an apartment with two zombies in it, but they were moving pretty slow and I was able to knock them down and finish them of with the axe.  I’m trying to conserve what little ammo I have, and the axe has worked fairly well since I’ve only had to take on one zombie at a time.  The problem with the axe is that you need room to swing it, and it usually takes at least two swings to kill.  It also works better when the zombies are already on the ground; if you swing it like a bat into the side of a zombie’s head, it does some damage and will often knock the things down, but there’s too much give and the axe won’t sink in deep.  When you swing the axe over your head, bringing it down into the top of the zombie’s skull (you have to be careful not to hit the ceiling or any hanging light fixtures, yes I’ve done both things) the axe will sink deeper, but not always deep enough to kill the first time, and the axe head will often get stuck, requiring some effort to get it back out.

The point is, I need to find a weapon that will work better; something that is a bit smaller, easier to use and that will kill more often on the first hit.  Look at me, sounding all badass like I’m some kind of killing machine.  The truth is, I still barely keep my bladder in check when I walk into a room and a zombie is standing there, and I still get kind of queasy every time I kill one of these things.  And I still haven’t ventured more than a few steps outside of the building.  But that changed today.

In order to acquire some of the supplies I need, I was going to have to get a vehicle.  The only transportation I owned before the pandemic was a bicycle.  I know how to drive, but never really needed a car until now.  Going through apartments trying to find car keys, and then trying to find the car they go to, would be way too time consuming.  I could just find a car with somebody behind the wheel, like the police car that’s still out there, but at this point the bodies are pretty gross, and I’m not sure I want to sit in that mess.  I know there may come a point when I have to do it in an emergency, but it’s not absolutely necessary at the moment.

There is a Toyota dealership about half a mile from here.  Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t even break a sweat riding my bike that far, but these are no longer normal circumstances.  I threw on a backpack containing a few tools I thought I might need, did my little trick with the R/C truck and monkey to clear the alley behind the building, and then I peddled my ass off for the dealership.  I shot right up the middle of Battery Street, dodging easily around the scattering of zombies.  When I passed, they would begin moving in pursuit, but their shuffling gate wasn’t enough to even come close to keeping up with me, until I hit 5th Avenue.

After I swerved around one in the middle of the intersection, I heard the slapping of feet on pavement behind me.  When I looked back, it was running after me.  I wasn’t too concerned until I turned back around, and spotted another about a block and a half ahead and running towards me.  I immediately whipped the bike to the right and cut through an empty parking lot to 6th Avenue.  I looked back as I was crossing Bell Street and saw both zombies were still running after me, but they were falling behind.  I then turned onto Blanchard Street and could see the Toyota lot ahead.

I looked back again when I crossed 7th at the back of the lot; the two zombies that had been running after me weren’t in sight yet, but there was a small group of slower moving ones coming in my direction.  I raced up to 8th, hopped off my bike at the front of the dealership, and tried the doors.  The doors were locked and I shrugged off my backpack, pulled out a hammer, and without hesitating, or thinking, smashed the glass door.  I knew I wanted a pick-up truck; it would just be a matter of finding the keys for all their vehicles.

As I jogged across the showroom floor to the main counter, I traded the hammer for my flashlight.  I climbed over the counter, hoping the keys would be right there, and worked my way down the length of the counter with no luck.  There was a dark doorway at the end of the counter, and when I shined my light into it, found what I was looking for.  On one wall was a pegboard full of keys.  Each set of keys had a tag attached to it with the model, color and price of the vehicle it belonged to; there was also a number that probably meant something to the people who worked at the dealership, but meant nothing to me.  I scanned quickly through the tags, looking for any that said Tundra, and grabbed the set of keys with the highest price figuring that it would have all the options that beefed the truck up.

When I turned around, I caught sight of a battery jump starter on the floor next to the door.  I grabbed it just in case, hoping it still held a charge if I needed it, and stepped out of the small office.  Two zombies were stepping through the door I had smashed, and I pushed through the gate that allowed access behind the counter, looking for the rear exit.  I ducked down a short hallway, yanked open the door at the end of it, and found myself in the maintenance area.  Swinging the flashlight around, I spotted a fire exit directly across the garage from where I entered.

At the fire exit, I checked the tag on my keys, and found that I would be looking for a silver Tundra.  I carefully pushed the door open, attempting to be as quiet as possible, and scanned the area.  There were no zombies in view, so I stepped out and eased the door closed behind me.  I guessed that the group of zombies that had followed me down Blanchard must have already passed down the side of the building, so I headed into the lot.  As I moved towards the line of pick-up trucks, I tried to stay low so that if any of the zombies had wandered onto the lot, they wouldn’t see me.  I saw that several of the pick-ups were silver, so I hit the unlock button on the key fob.

I saw the headlights on one of the trucks flash weakly and heard a rather sickly sounding double beep.  After the truck beeped, I realized my mistake and ran to the vehicle.  I dropped the charger, climbed into the Tundra, and tried to start it.  All I got when I turned the key was the dead battery clicking sound, so I found the hood release and jumped back out.  I got the hood open, hooked up the jump starter, and ran back to the cab.  Luck seemed to be on my side and the truck fired right up.  When I got back out of the cab, I spotted the two fast zombies from earlier running at me through the lot.

I ripped the leads from the jump starter off of the battery, slammed the hood down, and bolted for the driver’s seat.  I could hear the zombies growling behind me and I screamed as I leaped into the Tundra.  Leaning back out of the cab, I seized the door and began tugging it closed as one of the zombies smacked into it, effectively helping me get it closed in time.  I almost started sobbing in relief as the second zombie banged into the truck’s door.  Once I caught my breath, I flipped my middle finger at the two zombies, pulled out of the parking spot, and almost plowed into six more zombies.

Obviously I didn’t actually need to slam on the brakes, but when you’re driving and something suddenly appears in front of you, you hit the brakes.  After mentally berating myself and wondering where I could find a bumper sticker that said, “I brake for zombies,” I stepped on the gas and pushed through and over them.  I momentarily considered trying to get my bicycle, decided I probably wouldn’t need it again, and headed home.

I left my new truck in the alley, noting that it had about half a tank of gas, and retrieved my toys from the slightly larger band of zombies out front.  Tomorrow I’m going to see about some new weapons and look for something to collect rain in for the roof.  I should probably also think about thinning out the horde in front of the building somehow; I’m not too concerned about them getting in, but if there’s too many out there, getting out could become problematic.




About scottamehlman

Scott A. Mehlman was born and (mostly) raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Having earned both a BS and an MBA, Scott has tried his hand at a variety of jobs without finding one that truly satisfied or engaged his creative impulses the way writing does. He has published his first novel, The Immortal and The Dead, which is the first book in The Immortal Virus trilogy and continues to work on the JAEGER e-book series.

Posted on October 22, 2013, in Fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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