Chapter 2: Dawn
When I woke up it felt like it had all been a distant dream. Who would have ever imagined that the end of the world was happening? I never imagined that anything like this would happen in my lifetime. I mean, we’re talking about Zombies! Flesh-eating, decaying, straight-out-of-a-Romero-movie, undead. The very idea of them makes me shudder in terror.
As I lay there, looking up at the old ceiling in the gas station, I kept hearing what sounded like a dog. It sounded really close and I slowly opened my eyes and glanced around. Standing outside the locked glass door was a large canine, slavering and growling as though we were a feast. I stood quickly and the dog ran off with one last hungry glance. I couldn’t help but wonder if animals were susceptible to this terrible infection.
I started to stretch out my limbs, looking over K and T where they were still asleep. Looking around the store I noticed this place must have been badly raided before we got here. No gas cans, or pretty much anything for automobiles. I guess we are out of luck there. Behind the counter, I saw something that made me so happy. Cigarettes, rows and rows of cigarettes. As I hopped over the counter, I saw an old messenger style backpack hanging from a rack on the door to the back room. Picking it up, I emptied out the contents onto the floor. It was all mostly junk, but I noticed a mostly unused notebook. I picked it back up and put it back into the bag, because it could certainly come in handy later. I then started to fill the bag up with the tobacco-y goodness I love so much.
It’s funny to think that as a teenager, I was always told that cigarettes would kill me. Never did anyone tell me that it was possible for corpses to reanimate and come after the still-beating heart in my chest. I was never the child worried about crossing the street, or walking home late at night in a bad neighborhood. I was worried about monsters, and aliens coming down to our world to destroy everything in sight. Now that is what I KNEW would get human kind eventually. But to have zombies show up was unthinkable to me. Zombies belonged in bad, late night movies and not in reality.
Slowly, my salvaging (or outright stealing depending on who you were asking) stirred up K and T.
“Looting the cigs?” T said sleepily, getting up to a sitting position.
“I feel nasty. Is there a shower by any chance? I’ll even settle for one of those chemical emergency showers,” K asked hopefully, squinting into the morning light.
I just looked at her. I hadn’t thought of that at all. Looking around, this really looked like an establishment where the owners very well could have lived here. She got up thinking the same idea, but I was not thinking it would be a good idea to explore the back. She obviously was.
Nothing sounded like it was moving back there, but my Spidey sense was tingling. K looked at me with her green eyes. They always shined when she wanted me to do something and I have to admit that I do it each time. I put my bag on the counter and grabbed my bat. I noticed it had red stains on it now.
T just stared at me like I was insane. I just shrugged and slowly reached towards the door handle. My hand was shaking like I never imagined. I was scared. Taking a deep breath I finally started to open the door and as it slowly opened, I saw that it was an office. Opening it more I felt the vomit rise in my throat.
A young woman slumped over a desk with a gun in her hand. She couldn’t have been much older than 18, and I couldn’t stop staring at the unnatural angle of her neck. She had obviously shot herself, more than likely the result of the mangled wound on her forearm. The splatter on the wall behind her was mixed with chunky bits of something that I really didn’t want to examine further. But, I did want to get a look at that gun in her hand.
I knew what I wanted to do and I hated myself for it. Walking over to her, I pried the handgun from her hand. T and K slowly came into the room and saw me with the gun in my hand. K just looked at me, mouth tightened into a thin line and face impassive. T just shook his head.
“It was in her hand. I hate to say it, but she didn’t need it anymore.”
K just nodded and walked into the room. She walked over to the desk and opened some of the drawers. She threw papers around. She looked like she was obsessed with the idea of some item. Which was a weird idea to me seeing as we had never been here before.
“Bingo.” She said and help up a box of ammo.
I would have never thought about grabbing that. I grinned. That girl was always thinking. She handed me the ammo.
“Any bathroom?” she asked.
“I really didn’t get past her.” I pointed at the woman slumped down.
“I’ll check the other door.” T said walking into the room and went to the door on the other side of the room.
He pressed his ear up to the door first (wish I thought of that instead of just wandering in like a moron). Nodding, he opened the door and grinned ear to ear.
“We have a bathroom!” pointing at it like he found the holy grail.
Well, at least we would be able to clean up a bit. I had no intention of staying here for more than an hour. I vocalized my concern to my friends and they both agreed that we need to get out of here soon. K took the bathroom first as T and I went back out front.
He kept looking at the car.
“Can’t believe you stole the oldest car ever.”
“Meh,” was my ever witty response.
“And we find the one gas station without gas,” he continued, laughing.
“No gas?” I asked.
“Empty as keg at dawn, bro. At least we have some food and smokes.
Besides it’s not like this can last forever…with us surviving it anyway.”
“Scary idea huh?” I nodded along.
“Could be worse. Could be alone in that city like I was.”
“What were you doing there anyway? We hadn’t seen you in months, man.”
“Long story B. Just know I was finally heading someplace. But, when the end of the world happens you want your family by your side.”
“When did you grow up on me?” I asked, laughing.
“When the end of the world happened?” he laughed.
“What about A… I know your brother lived with you.” I asked him.
I had to ask since I knew that those two were very close (depending on the time of the year.) I saw his face fall. This was not a good sign and I knew I was about to feel pretty bad.
“Sorry to say I doubt he will be joining us. He was with me till a couple blocks before I saw you. We were running and suddenly I didn’t hear him talking anymore. I tried to look for him…” T just stopped talking.
“I get it” I said.
“Yeah, I dunno. I’m just glad that I got to you two. And since I want to keep you, we’d better get out of here before anything unfriendly shows up.”
“I have an idea about that.” I added
“What is it?”
“I think we need to head north. Like far north.”
“Seems as good as any, but why?”
“If these things are really zombies then I doubt cold will be good to them.”
“We don’t have a lot of gas.”
“We have enough to get out of the desert. Well maybe. But enough to get out of the we-are-fucked-if-we-get-stuck part.” I smiled.
“I’ve never been north.” T said smiling his usual smile
“I have. And it’s nice. “
“Well, let’s go!” he yelled
“Go where?” K asked, emerging at last from the bathroom.
“We’re going North!” T and I exclaimed.
“I guess we have to go somewhere.” she said smiling
It was nice to know that we had agreed in which direction to go. I had an idea, and now it seemed we had a loose idea of what was going to happen. We would head to the colder territory and see what happens from there.
Something T had said seemed to be stuck in my head as we packed the last of our plunder into the bus. At least if the worst happened, we very well would die together. And as close as we always were, it seemed we were truly becoming the family we each needed.
“Ready to go guys?” I asked as I heard the motor turn over.
“Ready, “ K said smiling at me.
“Ready B,” T said from the backseat.
We pulled out of the gas station as I heard rustling coming out of the bushes and had never been so relieved. It seemed the boogies were emerging. I stopped for a moment just to see how many. At least 10 had come out but I heard more rustling. If we waited even 5 more minutes we would have been fucked. If I ever see that dog again, I’ll have to thank him for waking me up this morning.
We kept silent as we drove down the road. The sight of all those things swarming the gas station got to all of us. We just kept driving. The static on the radio was a small comfort. The white noise just made everything seem to be closer together. I guess those things are everywhere. I thought there was a chance it was over hyped like swine flu. But we are far out of a city and they are romping through the woods. Today is just turning out to be lovely.
“So.” I asked out loud to no one in particular.
“That was a little too close,” K said, point blank. “We need to be more careful.”
Both T and I nodded. It was lovely to know we were all on the same page. Who didn’t want to survive? We continued to drive in silence all with our eyes straight ahead. That’s when the static cut out again. I tried to keep my eyes on the road but all of our eyes focused right on the radio itself. Would static turn off if all radio signals died?
“Can anyone hear us?” a small voice whispered.
I stopped the car. It seemed like all 3 of us learned forward expecting to hear something of amazing value. The only two possibilities were either we’re fighting back and winning or we had already lost.
“Drive towards Flagstaff. Resistance movement starting there. Train will transport out of town,” then the whisper cut out. We were all silent again.
“I guess we’re going to Flagstaff huh?” I asked out loud.
My two companions both nodded.
“We better hurry before it gets to dark. We already have a 2 hour drive,” K added.
I nodded and we kept going on our way. I wanted to try to avoid highways for a very good reason but I thought it would be impossible. The drive to Flagstaff was a lot like driving to nowhere. We hadn’t seen another car on the road which was not only illogical but just plain wrong.
When we finally had to go back onto a main road is when we saw things change drastically. There were cars everywhere, most of them blocking the lanes but some pulled politely over to the side of the road. Some were still on fire, flames quietly licking at the skeletal, hollowed out remains of cars. I cringed, dropping my foot heavily on the gas. Things could be hiding in the cars, just waiting for someone stop. Time to drive it like I stole it.
We avoided having to go on the highways for quite a long ways previous but we knew it would kill all our gas, and pretty much any chance of using this car afterwards but who really cared right now? We had to get to whatever this resistance was. It would take over 4 hours with trying to avoid the highways.
The problem with this whole ordeal is that we are not the only people alive. Since we arrived back here we keep hearing gunfire and seeing random flashes of people we keep pressing ahead. I think it makes life easier right now to ignore that others may need our help right now. K’s words still ring in my head from earlier with the radio station. We need to really worry about us right now.
Eventually we had to pull over to refill the gas tank. We pulled over at a small group of cars. I got out of the car and started to peer into the windows, T following behind me.
“So you know how to do this right?” I asked him
“How else do you think I’ve survived for so long.” He made the effort to roll his eyes.
We approached a very old mini-van. T opened the door and I froze. I didn’t think about alarms or anything but thankfully nothing went off. He started rooting through the back of their car and found an old hose.
“How much gas do they have?” he asked
“About half a tank.” I responded.
“Well now we will have about a half a tank.” He said laughing.
He began to siphon out the gas out of the van and into ours. I kept looking around me, with these cars around where did the people go? This was not right. The boogies, zombies or zeds whatever you wanted to call them would be showing up any minute now and we’d be fucked. But there’s no way to rush this.
I really hoped that the people who owned this car found where they we’re going or at least died fast. I would hate to have them come back from peeing in the bushes to find their gas tank empty.
I was getting antsy, I’ll admit it. I looked over again and I literally could of shit bricks. Maybe 20 feet behind T there was a family. Or what used to be. Now they were just pieces of themselves.
“T,” was all I could manage.
He turned and stopped dead in his tracks. For a person who never seems to stop moving I think that threw me off more then one could really imagine. K popped her head out of the window.
“Oh fuck this shit. Both of you in the car! I am driving” she positioned herself back into the driver’s seat, I ran for shotgun and T for the back seat. I looked behind us as K adjusted herself. It was a family. I saw the things that used to be their children. The car shot off much faster than I would have been comfortable with. I just looked behind us as the family began to shrink into nothingness. I leaned my head back and lit a cigarette.
“You boys would’ve got yourselves killed if I wasn’t here,” K began ranting. “I don’t know how you could have thought that standing around in the open during the apocalypse was a good plan. You both are completely irresponsible.
“ K, in our defense, we got the gas,” I smiled at her.
“Shut up,” was all she would say.
T started laughing again. I was amazed at his ability to laugh during such horrible situations. But I suppose that we’re the lost generation: The ones who lost it all but kept somehow surviving.
“Since I’m hyped up on adrenaline and driving like a fiend, why don’t you boys just crash out. It’ll be a while before we get another opportunity when we find the resistance.”
“You sure?” I asked.
“Go.” was all she said.
“Okay thanks!” T sprawled out on the back seat.
“Thanks K.” I closed my eyes.
I was never the biggest dreamer growing up. I daydreamed a lot but I can’t remember a night where I woke up excited (or disappointed) to be back in reality. That night I dreamed of us surrounded by a never ending hoard. I couldn’t run but I had a fifty caliber semi-automatic and ammo. I shot at anything that moved but I never even made a dent. I woke up to K poking me in the forehead.
“Wake up jackass, we’re here.” Waking up to her smiling brought a smile right to my face
Looking over I saw a sign that was partly in half but looked like soldiers waving us through. Best thing I’ve seen since I woke up to this whole mess. We slowly pulled up towards them. One man gave us a quick solute.
“Hi there! Glad to see more survivors,” he said with a genuine smile.
“Yeah hi.” was all I could really mutter out.
“We will be commandeering this vehicle for the present time. Sorry but you will need to walk to town. I will be there to make sure you make it properly.” he added
“What about our stuff?” K asked
“Carry what you can. We will bring the rest.”
We got out of our car and proceeded to grab whatever we could. What was left of our food and drinks, our cigs, weapons, and our bags. I looked at the soldier and smiled.
“Whats you name?” I asked him
“Just call me P.” he said.
Chapter 2: New Day ahead
The walk didn’t seem nearly as long as it should of. We followed P for about 10 minutes, casually chatting. I noticed the makeshift barriers and walls. Seemed like enough for now.
“So the army is here?” T asked
“Not really, just some of us happened to be here when everything went down. We have been securing the area to the best of our ability though.” he responded
“Well then, what about the radio signal?” K asked
“It’s not much, but we’re better equipped than civilians so we thought we’d help anyone who made it here. How far away were you?”
“A little outside of Phoenix.” I told him
“I guess the signal got far then. Good” he said
I was a little disappointed to find out that the entire area wasn’t secured by armed forced but it was nice to see people. We all seemed to be refugees right now. He left us in the center of town.
“Ok guys, some rules. Be careful, watch your stuff and be sure to tell someone in a cop or army uniform if something seems out of place okay? I will be back in a few hours.” He said before turning to leave.
We sat down and all seemed to light up simultaneously. I kept looking around just seeing people around. It was strange after the last couple days to see everyone just around and doing things.
I noticed what looked like a little diner. The lights where even on and I looked over to K.
“Anyone wanna see if they are actually serving?” I asked
Both nodded and we walked towards the diner. A guy dressed like a cook greeted us. He waved. The place was small and seemed busy.
“Don’t worry about the crowd.” He said and walked over to us
“We don’t have a lot of money.” I told him right away
“No one does, we are trading for food right now. What do you have?”
“How is this?” I said as I handed him a full pack of cigarettes.
“Wow.” he said
“Is that good?” K asked him
“3 sandwiches and drinks.” he said and walked away.
“I guess that is good then.” I laughed
We sat in a booth and seemed to avoid other people. Our food arrived and it was perfect for right then and there. I had to admit the idea of eating meat after looking like I was about to be a sandwich myself made my stomach kind of queasy. Either way I scarfed it down and K and T did as well. Bidding out goodbye to our “host” we walked back outside.
It was cold. Not going to lie, being in the desert has its complete benefits. But I am not used to the cold at all anymore. I thought I heard gunfire. For right now I ignored it.
We wandered around town a little bit more. I wondered when we would receive the rest of our things. Oh well, it was just so nice to see everything.
“This place is weird,” K just blurted out.
“What?” I asked
“They don’t seem prepared.” She added, pouting slightly
“How could they be?” T added
“No, look around guys. They don’t seem to notice what’s happening.”
“Let them be a little delusional for now. They probably need a break,” I smiled.
“Humph” was all she would respond with, but added a small smile.
I plopped my ass down on the curb and lit up a cigarette. My two companions sat on each of my sides and each took one as well. People watching was a weird hobby we all enjoyed. It seemed like it was a dying fad though. Literally.
Staring out, people seemed to smile or nod as they passed.
“People seem friendlier since the end of the world.” K laughed
“I guess the dead showing up can do that to you.” I added.
We stood up and walked some more and I passed by a RadioHut store, back in the day they used to sell all sorts of gizmo’s. I looked at K.
“Go in, I’m waiting out here.” She said
“Naw dude, go be a nerd.” He said laughing
I walking into the store and while it was ravaged a bit it was still in standing position. A guy behind the counter looked at me.
“What?” he said
“Umm, just looking?” was all I could think.
“Don’t steal. Steal and I shoot. We are open to trading though.” He added
To prove his point he showed his pistol on his hip. So much for a friendlier sort of people. I looked around and saw random nicknacks that would be nice to have if I still had a place to live… but then I saw a small handcrank or battery operated radio.
“What can I do to get you to part with this?”
“What you got?” he stated
“I got a pack of smokes.” I replied
I reached into my backpack and pulled out a pack of Newports (yuck) and handed it to the man. Greedily he snatched them from my hand.
“Take ‘em and get out.”
I grabbed a set of batteries (and when his back turned a second) and walked outside. K and T seemed to be talking about something or another but stopped the minute I walked outside.
“What?” I asked
“What did you get?” K eyed me suspiciously.
“This.” I said and showed her the radio.
“Why do we need a radio?” T asked
“Well without the car at our disposal how else will we know what’s happening?” I said blankly
“I guess. Does it work?” He added
I stood blinking for a couple minutes it seemed. I didn’t think to ask or check that out and nervously pulled it out of its package. Winding the handle slowly static came on the air.
“Thank Merlin. Or else I would have been out of a pack of Newports.”
“You gave him a menthol?” K asked
“Why not, this is more important. How else will we know when the army comes.”
“If they come.” She said
“They have to eventually. And we will ride it out until we need to.” I added
“You two fight to much.” T decided to come back to the conversation
“Shut up.” K and I said to him
It got quite. A little bit to quite for any of our likings. All of a sudden we heard another shot.
“Dude, hear that?” T asked shakily.
“Uh” was my only response looking straight ahead.
I saw P running towards us
“They’re coming! They’re coming” he kept screaming.
“What the fuck are you talking about.” K said grabbing his shoulders.
“They are breaking down the walls we need all enabled bodies here ready to fight.” he looked straight at T and I.
“ I’m in. I never shot a gun before though.” I told him being as honest as I could
“Sure, why the hell not? And I’ve shot a shit ton of guns.” T added
“Someone has to keep you two alive.” K added
“Umm sorry K they aren’t asking for females.” P said a little nervously
“Wherever they go, I go.” She said matter of fact, stubbornly setting her jaw against any argument.
“Really? Alright follow me.” P waved us on.
We followed him until we reached what was at some point a railway station. The idea of an “army” being built there was not looking to good. A handful of misfits, some bikers, and stoners. I guess we had to look good compared to the stoners right?
“Okay, now we all have weapons, the guns stay back if you don’t own one, we will not be supplying you one.” One man stated
I looked over to T and he looked disappointed. I just shrugged.
“The others will be in charge of offensive attack. Try not to die, we need you alive. Any females in the crowd: we know you want to fight but on ground attack we will not allow it. If you have a gun, stand back and shoot. Get prepared we head out soon.”
I was really expecting more of a speech to rival that of the amazing movies I have seen. Like the one in Independence Day. Instead all I got was try not to die. I clenched my bat with my hand and looked behind me at K and she was staring at me. No matter how long I have known her I will never exactly know what happens in that head of hers.
T and I walked over to her and I could see the gun in her hand. Smiling at her I just had to ask her a favor.
“Hey K, just stay as far back as you can?”
“What does that mean?”
“I think B is saying don’t get eaten. I will watch his back,” T said proudly.
“Who will watch yours?” she asked so suspiciously.
“Just don’t get hurt.” was all I could ask.
She just nodded but I still have no idea if she legitimately meant it or not. I wouldn’t argue.
“So we go down fighting?” I asked
“We always do, Asshat,” K added
“Ha! Yeah, Asshat.” T snickered.
“Fuck you.” I smiled and looked at them.
I turned around and looked ahead to see people where on the move. I sighed again. This is a depressing idea to think this is the last time you will see the ones you love.
“T, got my back?”
“Always. You got mine?”
“You know it.”
We started to walk off and I could head K say from behind us
“Please be careful.”
Chapter 2: War
Going to war is an odd expression when you really think of it. We imagine tanks, missals, guys in camo running around with helmets. We had none of those things (well maybe a few misfits in jackets). As we walked, I turned my head and saw K still standing there and I gave her a small wave. She pointed to her right and tried to mouth some words at me.
“She will be fine. We’ll find her when it’s all over,” T stated.
“I know.” I replied.
We heard a crash sound and people screaming. This is not good. The “troops” seemed to stop dead in their tracks. Fuck this was going to be a massacre.
Right ahead of us was a wall of corpses. They definitely saw us as well and charged us like nothing I had ever seen. We are not military, we aren’t police, and the closest I had ever been to this sort of situation was playing a video game. And Contra without the extra life code was easier than this.
As bad as it’ll sound, the people in front were dead before most of us could move to defend. From there T and I broke away from the group as we were being swarmed. We went side to side and began swinging like lunatics. Fear and unusual exertion making me pant and sweat like an obese man on a tread mill.
“Old man,” T said but I could tell he was scared too.
I looked ahead of me and more kept coming and I heard more and more screaming.
“Run, fucker!” Was all I could say, panting like I was.
T seemed to get the hint as did a few other people because what was left of our group soon began to turn and run as well. We had to find K this “fortress” was done.
I had never been the most responsible person. I wish I had paid attention to which way was the way back towards the trains. I know they wouldn’t run but it would have been easier. While running I couldn’t help but turn my head to see what was happening. The sounds of gunfire, screaming and moaning got loud then just deafining . It was almost heartbreaking.
“Where are we going?” T asked.
“Right but were?” he asked
“Gotta find the train station.” I added
T grabbed my shoulder and we high tailed it down a side street and I saw the station. But behind us the reanimated had been following us.
“What now?” T said with a tinge of nervousness.
“This way” I pointed in the direction K had pointed.
K and I had always had a way of knowing what the other had meant. Many times words were not needed. We just always knew. She would give me a sign when we were close.
We continued to run past the station into what was a group of shops. I saw one seemly abandoned pawn shop and stopped T. The LED open sign was still turned on.
Looking around I tried to open the door but it was barricaded pretty well. Tried to force it open but still nothing.
“Fuck fuck fuck” I said looking around.
The zombies didn’t look like they had caught up yet but I knew they would. They never seemed to get tired and they’re faster than in the movies. T was looking around and looked down a side street.
“Door door door!” I cried, pointing towards one a bit further down.
We ran down and tried to open the door and to my surprise I head a click noise, thank god. We walked in and saw no lights. I felt along the walls for a light and finally found one and when I clicked it on, I turned.
“Took you two long enough,” K stood there smiling.
“Missed you to,” I told her back.
Chapter 2: Mission Abort
“Turn off the light and follow me” K said and held out her hand.
We turned out the lights and both grabbed her arms as she led us through a dark maze. Walking through the dark while hearing nothing but gunfire and zombies everywhere is not the way I envisioned our week going. I really just wanted to be back in my apartment arguing with K online. Didn’t look like that was going to happen at all.
“Now be careful, we’re going up the stairs.” She said and started to count the stairs out loud.
We followed her voice up until we got to 10 and she stopped. A door opened and light and screaming became more obvious.
“The roof?” T asked.
“Safer then on the street!” K responded haughtily.
“True.” I wandered towards the edge and looked out.
This “safe” fortress had been overturned easily. The zombies had taken over already and I didn’t know if anyone had survived. The “war” had lasted 30 minutes before we had been wiped out. We had been pathetic. I plopped down to rest.
“So K, how did you end up here?”
“The door was open and no one was inside so I just took it,” She sat down next to me.
T took to laying down. This has been a very rough for all of us and I think we were exhausted. I offered K a cigarette and I lit one up myself. So tired.
“Good news though.” She said.
“How can we have any good news? We are going to be surrounded eventually and seems like we will be eaten.” I asked laughing.
She pointed to the corner and I saw she had managed to collect guns. What looks like 3 shotguns, and a dozen handguns.
“How?” T asked, shooting up off the ground.
“Borrowed them. And we have ammo.” She answered, smirking.