Once the second disc popped out, we shut off the computer and sat in silence. No more was spoken of the doctor’s experience, or my brother’s lack of bloodlust. We listened for any sign of movement.
Clive peeked through the blinds; but he couldn’t see anything. Dr. Robertson took the point as I cracked the door open. It was almost pitch black. I kept my eyes open and tried to adjust to the darkness as I peered out. The stench was rich.
I heard something slide against a wall. It sounded kind of close, but it was muffled. Then a muffled groan and the rattle of the axe in the break room door. Those were the only sounds I heard. Other than that it was so quiet I could hear my heart beat. Dr. Robertson looked ready when I turned around. He had a death grip on his suitcase. I told Clive not to turn on the flashlight unless we absolutely needed it. I took out the security guard’s nightstick and patted the CD’s in my pocket before sliding out of the door and creeping down the hallway towards the elevators.
Adrenaline was coursing through my veins. I expected to run into one of them any second. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw the elevator was still there, waiting for us. But that relief quickly faded when I realized someone was standing in it—and she was missing an ear.
“Take care of her.” The doctor told me.
I was about to turn around, about to argue. I mean, this guy just asked me to kill someone. Okay, this isn’t a person, I thought, but it was still dangerous. Plus I was scared, really scared. It would have been more preferable to just jog down the hall and disappear into the stairwells, on my way to safety. Then I wouldn’t have to fight that thing and risk having it bite me. I briefly considered sending Clive in there, as I was positive he could handle the thing. But then I remembered what Randy said about his brother succumbing to blood lust. The doctor nudged me out of my train-of-thought.
“Go on!” He hissed.
I’d be doing a lot of this if we had bad luck, I told myself. And if we had good luck, this was the last stop before getting the fuck out of here. The thought pressed me on as I crept up to the elevator, staying low and hiding along the railings. I tried to think of all the different ways of getting rid of the woman in the elevator. I watched her just stand there, nearly lifeless except for the subtle growling sound.
I could throw her into the light well, I thought. I could crack her skull with my nightstick. I wanted to just run up there and smack her in the back of the head with the short side of the side-handled wooden stick. At least, I thought it was wooden. I tried my grip on it as I rounded the elevator door and she caught sight of me. I froze in my tracks, my courage completely diminished.
It took her a millisecond to charge me; I had to think quickly. I let her have the first one against the side of her head and it landed with an echoing CRACK! She fell on her face and I dropped on top of her as she tried to get up. She struggled to bite my arms as I tried to hold her down, but I couldn’t get the right grip. So I tried something new.
The night stick was abandoned as I slammed her head into the floor until I could hear her skull crack and feel it soften like a rotten tomato in my hands. When the brains started to ooze from her face and wet my hands I let go; my fists clenched and dripping infected blood. I hoped that I didn’t have any cuts on my hands; and that there wasn’t another one waiting somewhere in the darkness.
For a few fleeting moments, I took into account that this was someone the doctor used to work with. That somewhere, out there, this person had a family. She was collateral damage. I watched her lifeless body as I caught my breath. I was aware of Clive and Dr. Robertson watching me.
“Okay,” I said.
Clive and Dr. Robertson came into the elevator with me and I was about to pull the emergency stop button when the doctor slapped my hand away from the controls.
“What the fuck?!” I asked.
“All of the buttons are pressed.” The doctor noted.
It was true. The control panel was completely alight. I’m surprised we didn’t hear her ring the bell.
“God damn it!” I slammed the panel. “Get out.”
I pushed the emergency stop button in again and watched as the elevator went down and dinged at the next floor. It was met by a groan. I was happy that we hadn’t gone on the elevator. But I was more distressed because I had to wonder if those were the same zombies, or if they were new ones, ones that had come off the elevator perhaps. The door dinged closed and continued its way down tot he next floor. This would have been the cafeteria and the offices. I didn’t hear anything. I wanted to wait and listen some more, but Clive pulled at my shirt.
“So what are we going to do now?” He asked, “Are we going to wait for it to come back? Or should we just take the stairs?”
“They’re probably in the stairwells by now.” I said.
“I don’t know.” The doctor said. “But we need to get down somehow. We just have to pick the right one. They can’t be in all of the stairwells.”
We moseyed down the hallways back to the stairwell by the doctor’s office, on the easterly point of the building. Clive played the brave one, pushing the door open far ahead of him, and taking a sweeping look around the stairwell with his flashlight. There was one in the corner, on the landing down from us.
“Close it!” The doctor shouted.
Clive reached for the door, but I jumped it and slammed it shut for him. We could hear the thing pounding and screaming on the other side. I turned to the doctor, completely pissed off that he would have the nerve to shout in an environment where shouting is a very, very bad idea.
“Shut the fuck up!” I hissed at him. I felt like slapping him out of terror, “Don’t yell, you idiot!”
The doctor checked himself and we walked to the western stairwell. Mind you, the doctor’s office was on the southern wall; which is why I was able to peer out and see the hint of a sunrise. If this doesn’t work, I thought, we’ll have to walk over to the dark side of the hallway. I never admitted it to anyone since I was five, but I was deathly afraid of the dark. And the thought of losing battery power or breaking the flashlight—or of someone running away with it—was terrifying. … Being abandoned was incomprehensible and the thought left me with a tingly, unavoidable fear.
We arrived at the other end of the hallway. I could still hear the one in the other stairwell screaming. But, there were new voices, of children. I brushed off a chill as we got into position. I instructed Clive on where to stand and hold the flashlight and got ready to move in, when I turned to look at the doctor, standing there. Doctor Robertson looked scared shitless. He was hugging his briefcase and staring at us wide-eyed. In his breath I heard a shiver and I wondered if he would run. He looked like he was in shock.
“Dr. Robertson,” I addressed him.
He gave me no response; so I took out my stick and poked him in the briefcase. “Hey!”
The doctor snapped out of it and looked at me.
“Stay with us, okay?” I asked.
“Sorry,” He said.
It bumped into one of them, the door, when I opened it. I still thought of them as people; but not for long. I wanted to puke—I was so revolted and scared at the same time. It was a nurse. Her face was torn almost completely off, except for the spots around her chewed up ears. One of her eyes hung loosely from its socket. It whipped around uselessly as she snapped her head toward us and hissed. I shut the door as quickly as I could, but it got stuck on her fingers, the edges of the door subtly sinking through her flesh like a fork through a bone-tender veal cutlet. I let out a shriek I couldn’t control.
“Oh my god! This is fucking crazy!” I stuttered, as tried to pull the door shut, but she wouldn’t let go.
“Run!” The doctor squealed.
“No!” I shouted. The thought of them leaving me over one zombie pissed me off. I mean, this was one zombie, with its fucking hand in the door. Was that really so fucking scary? “Stay here!” I told them. Then I turned back to the nurse and slammed the door on her hand a couple of times, to no avail.
I was not going to give up and let them in. I was not going to run away. If I ran away, they could still get me. But if I took any longer, Clive and the Doctor would leave me alone. And this was just one fucking zombie. I’d already taken three fucking zombies. So fuck this.
“You’re fucking dead!” I screamed; as I shoved my shoulder against the door, using all of my body weight. It slammed against her like a freight train, and I almost fell over the rails. When I turned, she was stunned, but beginning to get up. I slipped behind her and wrapped my arms around her neck and pulled, and twisted up as hard as I could. I swear I felt the vertebrae pop against my chest. When I was done, I threw her over the railing. Then I closed the door, thumping against it with a huff.
“Did you see that?” I asked.
“Yeah, you totally got her!” Clive exclaimed.
The doctor looked at me warily.
“Have you ever done that before?” He asked.
“Don’t worry,” I told him, “If you were a zombie, I’d do it to you, too.”
He went deadpan.
Feeling empowered, I marched over to the dark side and waited for the others to catch up. They looked like they had finally become hyper-aware of their surroundings. The doctor was staying away from Clive, I noticed, at least two arm lengths if he could.
“Are you alright, doctor?” I asked him.
The doctor looked at me and nodded vigorously.
“Do you want to try a door now?”
“No thank you,” he said, “I value my—I mean, I don’t think I’m quite as brave as you are.”
“Turn off the light, Clive,” I said.
When he did, I opened the door as quietly as I could and listened. There was some shuffling. It sounded above us, not very close. I closed the door, and decided to see what the other stairwell was like.
“What was wrong with that one?” The doctor asked.
“Nothing,” I told him, “Except for maybe a zombie or two.”
As we approached the final stairwell, the doctor strode passed us. He walked over to the door in a determined kind of way. He rolled his sleeves up and said,
“Let me do it this time.”
When the door opened, there was a crowd gathered on the landing. It was kind of ironic, if one stopped to think about it. The doctor ran away immediately, he disappeared into the darkness, leaving only the sounds of his footsteps behind. We were left there, at the open door, staring at a grip of zombies that were now staring at us. I wanted to scream. The thought had struck me to stay still and hope they tore after the doctor; but judging from their unwavering gazes, they wouldn’t.
“C’mon!” I screamed, taking Clive’s hand and pulling him towards the other stairwell. I hoped that once we go through the door, they wouldn’t be able to follow. But I knew they would be ale to, with the push-bar design of the damn things. I knew why they couldn’t leave the stairwells, the doors had handles. It was so simple. But it never occurred to any of us.
I filed the thought away for later as we fled, the door growing closer as the hungry growls of those things got louder. I could hear their feet thumping behind us. I could smell them. It was putrid, like a mixture of spoiled milk and bad meat. My bowels gave a jolt. I had to take a shit.
…In all of the places….
Clive crashed into the door and turned, waiting for me to catch up. “Hurry!” He yelled; and I jumped into the stairwell. We both slammed the door shut and put our weights against it. When they hit, the door almost shook out of its hinges. The impact reverberated through the concrete steps that we stood on and echoed through the whole stairwell just like a dinner bell.
As I stood with my back against the door and my feet on the railings, I noticed the flashlight meant little. It was pitch black. I tried to listen, but the sound of those things on the other side drowned out even my own heartbeat. I clenched my teeth and growled, pushing the door against its sill. I didn’t know if I could take this much longer.
“There’s another one in here,” I breathed.
“I know,” Clive said.
“How do you–” I asked, but already, I could see the outline of someone a half flight up from us. If we let the door open, I thought, it might keep them long enough for us to sprint the four floors down to the lobby. Then what? Do we call the Red Cross or something?
“Clive,” I said, “I’m gonna let door open. They’ll probably run straight into the railings. We can beat them running down the stairs. What do you say?”
“Okay,” Clive said, casting the torch down the winding stairwell.
“Do you see anything?” I asked.
“No.” He replied.
Clive did the countdown and I sprung off the railings and pushed against the door. It came back faster than I thought it would and found my ankle. Then I was falling. I tried not to land on my face and got up. They were screaming at each other, confused at the door. They don’t see me, I thought. But they will when I get up…
I pushed myself up as quickly as I could. When I put weight on my ankle I almost collapsed. The pain was intense. But I had to go, and so I grabbed both sides of the railing and heaved myself down the stairs, skipping entire flights and landing on one leg as best as I could. I can worry about my ankle later. I have to get down the stairs now. Clive’s flashlight wasn’t getting any closer.
“Why the fuck are you chasing us?” I yelled at them. But all I got were more feral screams.
When I caught up with Clive, he was already on the first floor, waiting for me. There was a light coming out from under the first floor door. It was unmistakable because the rest of the doors were dark. I hurled myself through it without thinking. Clive shut it. I was blinded when the door swung open and turned around, landing on my back.
“Close it!” I shouted.
“Look!” He said. The handles were on the outside of the door and the push-bars were on the inside.
“Do you know your way?” I asked him.
“No,” He replied.
We could hear screaming again, coming from behind us.
“They can get out,” I told him.
“Fuck,” Clive muttered and offered me his hand.
The pain in my ankle had de-escalated from unbearable to throbbing. It wasn’t broken, but I was looking forward to when I’d be able to sit. Or sleep…. I wondered if Dad was still outside. As I heard the stairwell door slam open I wondered if the zombies had struck outside yet. A sudden fear gripped me because I could imagine the dead bodies and screaming. If they had gotten out to the living in the tents and RV’s, it would be almost impossible to get out alive. Deep inside, there was a part of me ready to reap vengeance on anything that came near Clive or my dad.
For now there was running down a corridor of all white. No signs anywhere. I could hear them screaming behind us. I followed Clive right, down a smaller corridor. There was a green exit sign ten feet away. Just in time, I thought. When Clive tried the door, the handle didn’t move.
“Shit!” I exclaimed. I could hear the patter of their feet coming towards us. “What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know,” Clive replied.
So I took off running down the hallway until I reached what looked like a loading dock. On the left side of the hallway was a steel rolling door, and on the right were two double doors that led into what looked like a warehouse. I knew this was the same loading dock we had set up camp in view of. Five hundred feet from this door was my tent. If only we can find the exit. Clive pushed on the double doors and they opened.
“C’mon, Kenny!” Clive hollered.
I slipped into the door with him and we took off towards the first door we saw, across the room. Behind us, we could hear the thunder of feet stop outside of the door we went in. I didn’t know how they found us. I slammed through the door and took off right, down whatever hallway I was in. I kept pushing on; completely unaware of what was behind me, or what was going on around me. I took the next door and bounded through a room full of cubicles. A look over my shoulder confirmed Clive was right behind me.
Finally, at the end of the room, past the overturned chairs and spilt coffee mugs (somebody left in a hurry); there was a door with a green exit sign. The door led into the promenade that the elevators serve. I could see several bodies lining the floor. We came to a dead stop. Mind the pun. I motioned for Clive to be quiet as we tip-toed over suspiciously lifeless bodies. I could see mucus and brain spilling out of their ears like chicken soup. In the middle of them all was Rodney, eyes wide open, mouth agape like so many dead squirrels I’d seen on the road, rigor mortised into their last moments. His body looked worse than I remembered….
I hadn’t even noticed the screaming had stopped. Either they’d lost us, or had decided to chase after some other poor dumb bastard. Almost on cue, I heard the doctor’s voice above me.
“Kenny!” He shouted.
I looked up. He was standing on the balcony four floors up.
“Don’t forget my research,” He told me, “You must put it in the proper hands.”
I felt like asking him why he was still up there, what he thought he’d gain by hiding—waiting for them to come and get him. But I figured he’d already made his choice, and he didn’t need me to risk my life to convince him otherwise.
The doctor was still talking, “I got a hold of someone… They’re supposed to be coming soon. They told me to stay here.”
I looked up at him, surprised he’d been able to reach anyone.
The doctor chuckled, a relieved, surprised sort of chuckle. “The phone just rang.” He laughed now. “Somehow they knew. Maybe Bart reached help! Maybe we’ll see each other again, after all. I’m hiding in my office and waiting for them to arrive.”
Clive tapped me on the shoulder and pointed at one of them crawling towards us; blood coming out of its mouth. It was less horrifying when they weren’t screaming and tearing off after you any chance they got. This one was so defenseless.
“You’ll be one of the first specimens,” I told it.
When I looked back up, the doctor was gone. I wanted to say something more to him. But the door was there . . . only a few feet away. The thing on the floor had made little progress. Now that we were in the home stretch, Clive and I took our time walking out of the building, taking care not to be seen by any more of them. I tried the phones briefly, before we left, but they were all busy. How did they call in, I wondered, and who were they?
There was no one in the halls. No bodies or blood stains anywhere near the door. Right next to the door was a red fire alarm switch. I pulled it and dashed out the door.
Clive whooped and hollered as we made our way to the rear of the building. Everything looked normal. The sun was making its way up over the horizon. A lot of people had left already, probably dejected by what had happened. The news crews were gone, probably in their cushy hotels, waiting until the dinner ceremony tonight. The RV parked next to our camp was still there—and so were our tents.
“Dad?!” Clive called out.
My dad’s tear-streaked face popped out of the tent. He looked at me, and then Clive. I took the time to look at Clive under this new light. He didn’t look that bad. His toes were blue, though, and his veins were poking out, but considering that I was out of breath and still frightened as hell….
Dad hugged Clive.
“I never thought you were going to make it out!” He exclaimed. “Did the nurses let you out? What did Doctor Robertson say?”
Clive and I exchanged nervous looks as Dad continued, “Where are Avery and Rodney?”
“Ummm…” Was all that Clive could say.
“Dad,” I started, “Rodney and Avery are dead.”
“What?” Dad opened his mouth to say something but he closed it, a confused look on his face. “How…. How did Rodney die? What happened?”
George, Rodney and Avery’s dad had seen us come running. He was on his way over. He probably wanted to know what was happening, how come Clive and I were outside and no one else.
“Did you see anyone leave the hospital?” I asked.
“No, well, there was one person, a kid—two, actually. He was wearing a black shirt and ran straight into the woods. Another kid in a hospital gown was running not far behind.”
Clive and I shared a look. Wasn’t that the kid with the medical weed?
Dad looked at us seriously then, “What’s goin’ on, Kenny?”
“Something went wrong,” I told him, “I don’t know what. But, everyone died, and then they came back. They’re like zombies now, dad. They’re trying to eat anyone in sight. I know you’re probably not going to believe this, so just listen. Everyone in there is dead. The only people we saw alive were the doctor and Rodney.”
“What do you mean, Zombies?” Dad asked, “You’re saying . . . Clive’s a zombie, too?”
“Who’s a zombie?” George asked. He had a huge grin on his face. “Not Clive I hope. Did you two see Rodney and Avery in there?”
We just nodded.
“How are they?” He asked. “I haven’t heard from Rodney in hours. Is Avery okay?”
I couldn’t believe how isolated the hospital really was even; from five-hundred feet away. Our cell phones didn’t even work. We had to use someone’s Nextel to call the hospital. But that was hours ago.
“They’re sleeping.” Clive lied.
“Oh,” George looked back to the hospital. We could see the fire alarm lights blinking in the corridors. “Are those fire alarms?”
“I don’t know.” I turned to dad and whispered as softly as I could, “We need to go outside and contact the CDC or something.”
George chit-chatted with Clive, asking about how it was in the hospital and if they treated him right; meanwhile I told Dad about walking into the trashed AIDS wing and finding Clive cowering in a storage closet. I said I would tell him more, but we had to go now; or I would leave them behind. George asked about the kids who died. And I told dad about following Clive up to Avery’s floor and finding Rodney, eaten alive but still talking. Dad took in all the gory details, trying to keep his reactions in check.
I told him that I saw Doctor Robertson and I showed Dad the discs that he burnt for me. Dad took them and looked at them carefully. He handed them back and I told him that I didn’t want to see him get bit, or the rest of what come next if people went inside.
As low as I could I said, “We have to leave now. Before it’s too late.”
Clive was good at side-stepping and stretching the truth, but I could tell he was being stretched too far. Dad just stared at us thoughtfully, probably trying to weigh the truth of my statements. Normally, I was known as a prankster, so I forgave him for waiting so long to high-tail it out of there, but I could feel the stench clinging to my skin.
“Were your eyes always blue?” George asked.
“N–” Dad tried to answer.
But I interrupted him. That’s when I saw something click in Dads eyes; like it all sunk in.
“Okay,” Dad said, “We’re going, George.”
“You should come, too, George.” I told him, “It isn’t safe.”
Soon, I thought, the fire engines and paramedics would come. Hopefully some armed police officers, too. Firemen and paramedics wouldn’t be able to stop anything. The whole place needs to be leveled, I thought, they should just call in the air force and be done with it. I should have killed Clive and left him there. But he’s still my brother. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t like the others.
“Leave?” George asked, “Why?”
He cast another glance at the hospital and I could see the realization in his eyes: they were fire alarms. George turned from us and started walking to the hospital.
“Don’t go in there, George.” Dad said, “We’re lucky to see these boys alive.”
“How dare you tell me what to do!” George looked at us accusingly, like we were in on something he wasn’t told about.
“George, it’s dangerous in there.” Dad said, “Come here and let’s have a talk.”
George followed him to the stove. Dad started to pour out the coffee pot. I looked around and noticed a few groups of people watching us. Some of them were wandering towards the hospital. I could hear people asking what was happening.
“You shouldn’t have pulled the fire alarm, Kenny,” Clive said.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little blur of movement. A woman was dashing towards the hospital. The murmurs grew louder until it broke.
“Oh my god, the fire alarms!” I heard a woman scream.
Right then, right when everyone started to panic, I realized I should have just left the damned place as it was; because they all started running towards it.
Against all reason, I assumed any mother or father would try to save their child from a burning building. But would they do it even though their child was dead? Some people would probably try to save the body. Convincing anyone seemed beyond reason; well beyond my dad. But he had his sons. If there were a doctor in the house, they would believe me then. I’m sure something in the doctor’s files would cinch it, too. But what was I gonna do, pull a megaphone out of my ass and tell them? They’d call me a lunatic. Besides, my ankle was killing me.
I could already see them walking into the hospital, finding Rodney lying on the floor in the throes of rigor mortis. George didn’t need to see that. I could imagine a person trying to help in vain that one who was on the floor. Even after they started to bite, I was sure they would continue, ignorant to their impending fate. I could just imagine the screaming, terrified people running away from the building. They would be trying to save themselves by clogging the road and escaping. But all they would do was spread it. The idea of quarantine was antiquated, superfluous. I wondered if they would die before they came back, too, or if they would end up like Rodney and Clive.
In stark contrast to the adults, the kids seemed to hold some form of higher thought. It seemed they could track and could speak. Although none of them spoke so much as Clive when they caught sight of fresh food—if they even needed food. I wondered if they’d be smart enough to play possum, or if they would simply turn into the slobbering blood thirsty things I was so familiar with. I didn’t have any more energy to run. I had to sleep.
“Dad,” I said. “We need to go now. It’s gonna start spreading as soon as they find the first one.”
“What do you mean?” George asked.
“Someone’s gonna get bitten, someone might get scratched.” I said, “I don’t know how long it takes, but someone is going to turn, and they’ll want to feed. Imagine all these people trying to get in their cars and drive away at the same time. If we don’t leave now, we may not get another chance.”
“Bitten…” George finally said. His voice carried a cold realization to it.
“How come Clive…” He began to ask. But he’d put it together. He looked at us like we had AIDS. Pardon the pun. He looked at us like we would eat him at any moment.
“Just him,” I said, trying to ease the scrutiny.
George nodded and cast a sideways glance at my brother. Dad’s expression was one of disbelief.
“How come he isn’t…trying to eat someone?” George asked.
“I don’t know,” I told him. “But he hasn’t tried yet.”
“When we found Rodney,” Clive said, “He was like me. He could talk…. He told us what happened.”
“We were going to all get out together,” I said.
“But then he turned on us.” Clive finished.
“Where is he?” George asked.
“Right next to the elevators.” I told him. “But you don’t want to see him. Or Avery.”
“God… What happened to Avery?” George asked.
“He went crazy,” Clive said, “He tried to protect Rodney; but he got too excited and started biting everyone…”
George furrowed his eyebrow. I could see the effort it took for him to look neutral. But there was a glint to his eyes that said something different.
“But Avery didn’t get sick….” George said, “He was just supposed to be in there for observation.”
“He did get sick,” I said. I added, “We saw Doctor Robertson, too. But he didn’t want to come with us. He was too scared. Doctor Robertson told us what happened with everyone. He even gave me this disc to bring to the CDC.”
I pulled out a disc, some of the most concrete proof of what happened inside; aside from the blood, which both Dad and George neglected to comment on All of a sudden we heard screaming from the hospital; it sounded like they all let it out at once. People came bolting out of the building.
A woman was running behind them, covered in blood screaming, “HELP!”
“Oh my god,” I heard someone scream, “Somebody call an ambulance!”
People ran towards her; I watched, numbly, as she collapsed. And I knew then, it was time to go.
“Daaad!” Clive said. He pulled on dad’s shirt, hard. “We have to go!!”
“C’mon, George,” I said, “Come with us if you want to live.”
“But what about Avery?” He asked.
“He’s fucking dead, okay? He’s dead. There are people in there who murdered him. And they’ll murder us, too.” I said. “Get a fucking move on!”
I don’t know why I said it like that, but it worked. I told him to bring his own truck, and then ran over and started to pull the stakes on our tent. One might wonder why we bothered to bring anything with us. I don’t know. Maybe it was just because we were supposed to take it with us. Because we were used to doing that before we left. It didn’t take any direction. Not a word was said. It only took a minute.
I watched the hospital as I rolled the tent, still with the sleeping bags inside, and got it ready to move. Clive tossed in the pots and pans through the open gate, while Dad folded the table and put it inside. Then he helped me throw the tent in the back. That was it.
We exchanged cell phone numbers with him and made plans to meet at the ghost town next to the airport. I jumped in the back seat, just in case Clive somehow found his appetite, and we tore off down the service road leading into town. Sitting felt so good.
Dad was speeding, hitting fifty on a road we first took at forty; the paved road that ran for about a mile, and stopped at the gates. I tried to call 911 as I bounced around in the back, but I didn’t get any cell phone service. Luckily, my GPS service was still working. So I searched for the nearest CDC and Environmental Health offices and saved the numbers for when we had service. George was still behind us when I looked back, good.
Just in front of wrought iron, we saw them: the kid in the hospital gown; and the kid with the black shirt.
“Those are the guys you smoked with last night!” Clive exclaimed.
I looked on in disbelief. It looked like they were making out or something. But the kid was eating the guy in the black shirt. His eyes were blank, but he still had that terrified look. As we came closer, the kid stood up and screamed at us. We were going too fast to hear and I couldn’t read his lips. As we passed, he charged the truck and launched himself into the side of it.
He landed with a huge thump. I almost thought we ran him over until we heard the unmistakable sound off the kid hitting the hood of George’s truck. It sounded just like a deer getting hit by a car. I whipped around to look behind us.
I could see the dust rising from where the kid hit the dirt, George’s truck fishtailing. Poor dumb bastard probably slammed on his brakes. I watched the truck perform one, two flips and see-saw to a stop on its back, in the ditch. Dad stopped. We all looked back as the dust cloud washed over us, our visibility dropping rapidly. Soon, we were overtaken by the cloud of dust.
“What do we do?” Clive asked.
“Umm. . .” Dad said.
“Do you think they’re dead?” I asked.
Dad put the truck into reverse and we backed our way into the fog. We could smell the burning oil before we could see anything else. When we’d cut through the dust we could not have been more than twenty feet away. The truck was on its side. Its underbelly was exposed to us, and we could clearly see the gasoline pouring out of its breached tank, oil dripping over and around the engine block. The front of the vehicle was smoking and there was just a hint of fire from underneath it.
Dad put it back in drive before any of us could say anything; and we rode away from it a little bit, just as the blaze flared up and we heard a loud pop.
“Let’s go.” Clive said.
And we did. I didn’t want to watch the rest. Whether or not the kid died didn’t matter. George was the only one left, as far as I was concerned. The last one. . . And it was disheartening to know there was nothing we could do.
My clothes were disgusting, and they smelled like shit. I decided to crawl into the back and change them.