“Candi,” I said as she came walking up the hardwood stairs, her heels clicking on every one. “Zombies. Max is bitten. We’re bugging out.”
It was not my finest monologue. I probably could have worded that more tactfully, but at the moment I was feeling fairly stressed out.
“Mommy!” Max said excitedly, “Mommy, I’m hungry. The inside bugs are eating everything.”
Candi looked at me, puzzled “Tookes, what?”
I pull Candi into our bedroom, and start to explain. “Candi, I know you’re not going to believe this, but I promise you, it’s absolutely true.” I saw Chuck get eaten. He was inside out, and he tried to eat me. His guts were hanging down past his knees, and he was walking towards me. I could see all the way through him. I saw strangers attack and bite people, and when those people died, they stood up and tried to bite more people. I watched a man literally eat the throat out of another man. I ran as fast as I could. I got in my truck and drove straight to Max’s school. I can’t begin to describe the horror inside there. I killed someone with a flashlight. I didn’t get to the daycare fast enough. Max got bitten. Everyone I’ve seen get bitten has gotten sick. Max just has a fever. I think I got to it in time. When we got home I dumped everything I could find on his leg, from rubbing alcohol to peroxide. He’s got a little fever, but he’s still Max. I’m sure he’s going to be fine.”
Before I could say anything else, Candi rushed over to Max and picked him up. “Oh my god, Tookes, he’s burning up!”
“I know. You can see the bite mark on his leg.” I said, “I gave him ibuprofen, the fever is down some. In an hour we can give him some Tylenol too, I believe that will knock it down even further. I think he’s going to be Ok, Max is a tough kid.”
“Candi, we’re getting out of here, we’re going to moms. Check the closet and see if there is anything else you need. I think I got everything. The truck is packed; we need to leave in ten minutes. ”
“We need to get Max to the doctor. I don’t want to go to your mothers. We need to go to the hospital,” she said.
“The hospital is the worst place we could go,” I explained. “That’s where everyone who’s been bitten will go. I watched a man get bit and then stand up. He had no guts, you could see all the way through him, but he was standing up!” I was almost yelling at this point, only worry of frightening Max keeping me from it. “We have to go to Moms. It’s in the country. It will be safe, there’s no one around. Now please, go get your things!”
Candi went off to the bedroom, I knew she was going to come back with a few things she couldn’t leave the house without, but I didn’t have much time to argue with her. We needed to move. Between Maryland and Virginia is the Potomac River. Where Route 15 crosses the river, is a five hundred yard two-lane bridge. The river is deep and fast. It’s an hour and a half south of my house, and I knew if that bridge was impassable we were in serious trouble. We had to get across that bridge before it got shut down, or worse, the National Guard put up a checkpoint there.
“Max, buddy, how are you feeling?” I asked walking back into the living room.
“I’m okay Daddy, why is Mommy mad? Is it because I got bit?”
“No duder, she’s not mad at you. She’s worried because you’re hurt. We don’t like to see you hurt, it makes us sad.”
“Don’t be sad Daddy, it doesn’t hurt,” he said.
Max’s verbal skills were always ahead of other kids his age, but he still had some trouble with words. Today he was speaking like an eight year old. I pushed that out of my mind, picked him up and yelled to Candi “Three minutes! Come out to the truck.”
I checked the windows to make sure there was no one around, and ran across the lawn to the 4runner with Max. “Max, this is going to be a long trip. What movie do you want to watch?” I’d primarily bought the truck for road trips; one of the first things I added was a DVD player in the passenger headrest so Max could watch movies while we drove. It was a moment of Daddy genius. I have no idea how parents did road trips before DVD players.
“Finding Memo!” Exclaimed Max.
I started the movie, and went around to the driver’s seat. For the fifth time that day I checked my rifle to make sure there were bullets in the magazine, and one in the chamber. I flicked the safety from “Safe” to “Fire” and back to “Safe”.
Just inside the three minute window I’d given her, Candi came running out of the house. She’d changed into a pair of jeans and sneakers, and a hoodie. She was carrying a purse, and from the way it was swinging it looked heavy. She hopped into the truck and we were away, starting our three hour drive towards safety. I thought.