“I don’t know what bites a zombie,” Victor said, “And I’m not sure I want to find out.” Victor gestured with his hands now as he added, ”Let’s check the garage and move on. I don’t want to stick around here too long.”
The two men left the perfectly stacked corpses exactly as they found them, and walked over to the garage. It had a small locking handle in the center. Victor reached down and gave it a solid twist, breaking the tiny lock and opening the door.
“Not much for security here in America, eh?” Sean asked from behind him.
Vic decided to brush the obviously condescending comment aside. He was still annoyed from what happened with James and decided it was going to be easier to ignore the gibe than to acknowledge it. At this point, he just wanted to get this the hell over with. “Those locks are for show. They were mostly to keep honest people out. A thief would get in whether there was a lock or not,” Victor said. “Watch out.” The man took another breath and heaved the garage door open.
The two men backed off, but there were no zombies inside the garage. A quick glance showed nothing particularly useful to Victor, but Sean started gathering everything he could get his hands on. Power tools, screws, nails, yard tools, bits of scrap lumber, tool boxes, everything he saw went into the back of the truck. Tookes stood in the entrance of the garage and watched him with great curiosity.
“Sean, these aren’t nice tools. We’re going to go through at least a hundred garages before we find the generators we need. Are you going to grab everything from all of them?”
“Every house in America has this many tools?” Sean asked, clearly surprised.
“No, but seventy-five per-cent of them will have better tools than this.”
“Fuckin’ American excesses,” Sean scoffed. With a shake of his head, he muttered something under his breath and put the rest of the tools in the back of his truck.
Victor pursed his lips together and instead of coming back with a prickly response of his own, he stuck with “Whatever,” and tossed a case of bottled water into the bed of the truck. The corpse piles had him a little on edge. Vic wasn’t sure if Sean was being intentionally abrasive or if he was just being overly sensitive because his mind was elsewhere but Vic knew he had to concentrate on the job at hand. He’d done enough of this to know it wasn’t just zombies you had to watch out for. Victor hadn’t ever seen zombies stacked like that; this was something new. And these days, “something new” was rarely a good thing.
“I’ll head to the next house. Just back the truck into the driveway when you’re done,” he said as he walked through the yard.
The two men repeated this process through four houses. By the time they’d reached the fifth house, the truck bed was full of junk. Vic walked over to the truck and scanned the truck, trying to keep the frustrated look off of his face.
“Sean, we’re not going to have room for the generators if you keep piling shit in the back of the truck. Remember, you can come back any time for this stuff,” he said, gesturing to the mound of stuff in the back.
“Not if some Drongo gets it first. Never know when I might need this,” he said, hefting a wood-stove pipe into the back of the truck. “Besides, we can always strap the gennies on the roof of the truck.”
There was a moment of awkward silence between them. “Where the fuck are you from?” asked Victor. “John never felt like he had to take everything.”
“John has talked non-stop about his ability to live off the shit you throw away, even now,” said Sean. “He just doesn’t say anything to you. Not that saying anything to you would have helped. Fuckin’ Americans.” Sean shook his head again and then headed back into the house for more trinkets.
Victor worked in silence for the next couple houses while Sean continued to pile every single screw, broken bucket, old mop, and half-empty bottle of cleaner he came across into the back of the truck. And the higher the pile grew, the more patience Victor lost.
“Sean, at this rate, we’re going to be three days trying to find these generators. We need to get water on quickly. I don’t want to delay much longer. I need to get home.”
“Nothing’s keeping you here, mate. We can handle the house full of zombies,” said Sean dismissively.
My loyalty to John is keeping me here, Sean. I don’t know what I did to piss you off, but we need to move. We’re ten minutes drive from your town. If you want to stay here all week and loot everything out of every house, that’s fine, but I’m going to grab a truck and find generators. Surviving in this world means not taking your eyes off the goal,” said Victor, gesturing with his hands. “You can’t just float along without a care. You have to make a plan and stick to it. I’m all for picking up a few things here and there, but this is ridiculous.”
“Alright,” Sean said. “Next truck we pass, you can take it and go get ya fuckin’ generators. I’m not passing up an opportunity to gather things that will make our life easier.”
“Fine. See you back at Hazardville,” said Tookes.
Victor walked away from Sean, who continued loading his truck. As he walked towards the next house, felt a sudden, small tickle on the back of his head. As he ran his hand over the sudden itch, he shook his head at the same time. The amount of bugs here was overwhelming – one of them was bound to be a mosquito.
He opened four different garage doors, never once encountering any undead, before he turned the corner and encountered another set of those unsettling zombie piles. Just like the first, there were six piles, each with twelve along the bottom row, seventy-two bodies in each corpse-pyramid. Tookes took a moment to stare at the piles, trying to make sense of it. There is definitely a pattern, he thought as he walked around and in between the piles. The corpses on the bottom seemed to be the ones in the best shape. Those at the top were missing legs or large portions of flesh, while those on the bottom seemed to have all their parts. In the middle of the piles were a couple missing arms, and several missing part or all of their face. Every one of them that he could see had the same bite mark on their neck.
Victor, as he often happened when he was alone, was reminded of a movie quote. “One thing about living in Santa Carla I never could stomach, the damn zombie vampires,” he said to no one.
Twelve piles of seventy-two. ’All zombies when they died, that’s like nine hundred dead zombies,‘ thought Victor. ’What the fuck killed nine hundred zombies?‘
After a few minutes inspecting the piles of corpses, Victor walked towards the garage of the next house.
“Thank God,” Victor said aloud, when he opened the garage door and saw the control panel to a whole house generator next to the electrical panel. One whole house generator would provide a huge amount of power, and would run on either propane or diesel. Both fuels would still be in abundance long after the gasoline went bad. There were three major components to it, the part that interfaced with the house wiring, the part that cut off the power grid so the electricity from the generator didn’t flow out and get lost in the grid, and the generator itself, which was probably mounted outside the garage directly behind the panel.
It took him about forty minutes to cut the panel down. He cut all the wires, leaving the generator connected to the house panel, so that John could see how to wire it when they got where they were going to put it.
The generator itself was bolted to a concrete pad which quickly proved to be the worst job. It was tucked back into some bushes. Everything in this god forsaken desert was covered with spines, prickles, thorns or barbs. These bushes seemed to be completely armored in all four. Ultimately he threw a tarp from the garage over the abominable shrub, which only slightly diminished the vexation.
Victor had to search six additional garages to find the right tools to unbolt the generator from it’s foundation. In the fifth garage was a small volkswagen pickup truck, fully restored to all of its mini-sized, 80’s glory. Shiny chrome wheels, low profile tires, and a huge stereo system completed the build. It was perfect for John’s group. It ran on diesel, and probably got forty miles per gallon of fuel. The truck had the utility of a bed, and easy wiring and mechanicals. Vic opened the door and say down in the driver’s seat. He was thrilled to see that the keys were still in the ignition. It had to have been at least six months since it had been started and yet the truck started with the first crank of the starter. As the engine came to life, that itch on the back of his head came back, but it was much stronger than it was previously. Again, he ran his hand over the spot and realized it was much harder to ignore it this time. That mosquito must have really dug into his skin and he was left wondering when the last time a mosquito drank the blood of a human that was still alive. With a slight cringe, Victor decided to not continue that line of thought.
It was almost three in the morning by the time Victor had the whole thing loaded into the truck, and was on the road back towards the compound. Victor was not the least bit tired, still feeling unsettled, driving the mini-truck towards his family. There was something nagging at the back of his head all night, besides Sean being a prick. It was a little bit like the hairs on the back of his neck standing up, except inside his head. It was like something was pulling him, and the more he concentrated on the feeling, the harder it pulled.
The little truck rolled to a stop, and Victor shifted his eyesight, looking for auras, or lack of. He was oddly reminded of an old spider man comic book, as if his spider senses were tingling. The minute he re-opened his eyes, his breath caught in his throat. He was completely surrounded by what he’d always thought of as negative aura, the type of blackness that surrounded zombies. His own aura seemed stretched away from his body, as if something was trying to suck the colors off of him.
Reflexively, Tookes solidified the outer edge of his aura, and stepped out of the truck. He left his hatchet and gun sitting on the seat, but had a fleeting wish that he was half a mile away safely behind Sammie’s scope, watching the goings on. He made a mental note to go by Fort Hood on the way home and recover his weapons. They wouldn’t do any good here, whatever this was was more powerful than anything he’d ever encountered.
He knew there was no sense in ignoring this, just like he knew that it had waited until he was alone to make it’s presence known.
“The theatrics aren’t necessary,” Victor said. “Show yourself.”