The roads were empty. We passed mile after mile of farmland, cows and other livestock grazing peacefully in the fields. Every few minutes we slowed down as we passed through some small town with a few dozen houses and a single traffic light. In Ladiesburg, Maryland, we saw a woman bent over a man in the middle of the street. She was chewing on his arm, ripping large hunks of flesh and gristle.
I think that’s when Candi started to believe me. “Go, Go!” She said, firmly. “Drive around them, we have to get away.”
Max was thankfully watching a movie, and Candi and I talked about the situation. She flipped out when I told her about the guy in the street this morning at work, and how close I’d gotten to him.
I explained about my run from the office, and the gang of zombies in the parking garage, all about chuck, and how his intestines were looped all the way down to the ground. I described the gore, and how he was still walking. I described them shaking the truck, and bending the brush guard.
Candi was always a realist. I was always the one thinking about zombies, or aliens or natural disaster. I don’t think she would have ever believed me if she hadn’t seen one with her own eyes.
We made good time. The closer we got to the city, the more often we saw other cars. I passed several heading north, but saw no one else heading south. Just above Frederick Maryland, we’d been on the road for about an hour, I slowed the truck down. There was a wreck ahead, were cars across the road, but something didn’t look right. The whole scene set my instinct to run.
As I got closer, I realized they’d been parked there, not wrecked. None of them were dented. I reached down beside me and pulled my rifle up on my lap, flicking the safety off. “Max, this is going to get loud buddy. Keep your headphones on, okay?”
“Yes Daddy,” he said, “But Daddy, don’t shoot the ones in the front, shoot the lady with red hair in the back, she has the most bugs.”
With my rifle ready, I cranked the wheel to the left and gassed the truck quickly towards the median to get around the cars blocking the road. I knew the median would be muddy, but my truck was pretty tough, and it seemed better to risk the mud than try to push the cars off the road with my already damaged brush guard. I reached up and hit the sunroof button, and it slid open quickly as my tires hit the grassy median. As I passed the first row of cars, I heard the crack of a rifle, and a bullet hit the front of my truck. I floored the truck, as a spray of bullets riddles down the passenger side. The passenger side rear tire went flat, and I realized I did exactly what they wanted me to; I had driven into their trap. All four tires spun in the mud, slinging it everywhere, but we were slogging forward at a snail’s pace. Random thoughts ran through my head. I was calm, ticking off a situation assessment. My truck won’t last through this. Max and Candi are on the side of the truck facing oncoming fire. Anger flares inside me as I saw the steering wheel back to the right, heading out of the median, back on the road facing directly into the incoming fire. “Get Down, Candi!” I yelled over the gunfire.
“Hold on!” I yell, as the front of the truck smashes into the corner of one of the cars. My headlight blinks out and the truck stalled, still taking fire. The passenger side window blew out, and Candi slumped forward. I felt a warm spray hit my face, and knew that she’d been hit.
“Mommy!” Max screamed, barely audible as the blood pumped through my ears. Time seemed to slow down, I ripped my seatbelt off, and stood up out of the sunroof, oblivious to the oncoming fire, and lined up the scope of my rifle. Center mass on the first target. Remembering the police officer pumping round after round into that man this morning, I adjusted my aim upwards and watched his head explode through the scope of my rifle. In the time between squeezing the trigger and the bullet hitting the target, I noticed he was unarmed. I raised my rifle, scanning behind the line of now approaching people, and spotted her.
She was tall, thin, with long red hair. She was holding an assault type rifle, long banana clip sticking out of the receiver, one of those thirty round types. I was vastly outgunned, if I was going to save my family this had to end quickly. I lined up the scope on her head, exhaled, this was a long shot, and I haven’t shot in a while. Squeezed the trigger, I heard the rifle report, although it seemed muffled and distant. Through the scope, I watched her head move to the side, just as I squeezed, like she knew. Or saw the bullet coming, but how could anyone move that fast?
I levered the bolt forward and back, and squeezed off another shot, bolt forward, ejected the spent round, back, squeeze. I aimed at both sides of her head. She dodged back the other way, avoiding the second bullet, and my third round was low. Low, but it connected with her shoulder. She spun around with the bullets impact, and I levered back and forward again.
My last shot hit her center mass, right in the middle of her upper back. It shattered her spine, and I lept out of the truck through the sunroof. Three steps away from the truck I took aim at one of the closer zombies, and watched it crumple to the ground in my scope. I hadn’t fired a shot.
Three more zombies fell in succession without me firing a shot. I ran through the line of zombies, up the embankment on the far side of the road, towards the red head. I remembered Max telling me to kill her first, and at this point, that was the only information I had. Scrambling up the hill, I saw her lying on her back, a very large hole in her chest. Except that the hole was getting smaller. She was healing in front of my eyes. I let out a guttural scream, and fired one more shot at very close range, decimating her head.
I turned to see that the remaining four zombies were heading my way. I slid the bolt forward, and back, lined up on the closest one, and once again it crumpled to the ground. Looking away from the scope, I saw that all four had fallen mid-step. Their heads appeared intact, there was no obvious reason, but I wasn’t going to go inspect too closely. I grabbed the redhead’s rifle, and one more magazine from her back pocket. An automatic would come in handy. I hadn’t seen any other armed zombies, and it dawned on me that I hadn’t checked on Max and Candi. I leaped off the embankment, falling nearly fifteen feet to the road surface, and took off running for the truck.