wip fiction fragment

Laura Davis, Survivor.

Denver:

Ten minutes ago the President went off line for the last time. The City power's been out for weeks, we knew that when we set up the generators. Our bigger problem is the three basics, fuel, food, ammo. Guns we have, everyone has those. Maybe one in thirty people know how to safely use a gun. But only so much ammo.

Last week was the worst. Downtown's gone. Most of the useful parts of the City are, burned up by the FireBugs. But life's going to get real tough for them too. There's only so much drugs, and they tend to make themselves prey to the Eaters.

Most Eaters are not that smart, and if you take a second to think, you can usually use the environment against them. Basic physics knowledge helps. We're walking out of the City today, the fifty of us. No leader, no alpha males yet. Everyone with an ego, a chip on their shoulder, they went down in the beginning days, about the same time as the Frozen.

The fires are making our decision for us. We have to get away from the winds, cause the fires do a better job than the Eaters or other crazies at taking people out.  Fires moved really fast. We have maybe a few hours. Me and Kara are moving out first, then the rest will follow a mile off the road. (I-25) In packs of ten. Rifle and ammo with every group, water carriers for all.

Lots of people drove on the road in the first days after, trying to get away. Some made it farther than others. No more gas stations though, so. The road is littered with cars, and further down, the bodies of the drivers. Somewhere out on that road is Joanna, and Deeg.

I've cried enough for them.

I retie my pack. Most of the stuff I got from the Mall south of here after looters took the most obvious stuff. It was an easy if harrowing trip, just take the elevated train line straight down, stay a hundred yards away from anything that moves bigger than a dog.

Socks, twenty pair of those. long sleeved shirts, pants. Extra boots, slightly big. Water bottles, boiling pot. Metal coffee thermos of rubbing alcohol. All the jerky I could find. Fire sparkers. Hand crank walkies. Bullets for the Beretta PX4. Bandages. Super glue packets, a roll of duct tape and scissors. 5 packs of needles and 4 spools white thread. Hand mirrors. Machetes, 3. Walking stick, which is really just a heavy, metal pipe from a chain link fence. That's all I have.

Realistically, I'm not going to make it farther than two hundred miles. But I'd rather die out there from sun sickness than be burned alive and eaten. Besides, rabbit looks to taste better than cat, anyway.

So, I'm leaving this note here. If things get back... if things ever become re-civilized, look for me near the dam where Vegas used to be. 

Castle Rock:

Office Depot post Collapse seems like a fortress, but instead of soldiers and gated fences there are rows of boxes of copy paper and Xerox machines. Place is amazingly easy to fortify. Drove a van up parallel to the glass sliding doors, and the rest of the store is a big concrete box. No windows. Down from fifty to twelve. Some, like Sarah just dropped dead on the side of the road. Others, like Asher, well. Asher went down fighting.  If there's any record of history anymore, put him on the heroes list. 

The Eaters run so goddamn fast. Most of the gear I brought from Denver I lost on the run. Still have the guns and ammo, and a couple of the water carriers. I lost the pack. Two days ago, when the pack of those Eaters found us in the middle of the night. 

Asher was like a movie star that night. Or something. Guy in his fifties, bald, lean and skinny and wrinkled, he was shooting the Eaters left and right, reloading the shotgun and yelling for us to get out of there. I was up on my feet gun in hand just running like an idiot. It took me a minute to realize I was just pounding ground like a scared rabbit, blind with panic. I went back. 

People tend not to fly when they are shot like they do in movies. Asher told me why when we were walking along the section of Denver light rail towards Yale station. He said it was a dramatic effect, when people really get shot there isn't enough inertia, or maybe it was mass, to send them flying. He said that it would take getting him by something bigger, like a car, or a truck. 

I trusted Asher's opinion on this, because he used to be a cop, and if he told me about how guns behaved don't you think I'd believe him? 

There he was, standing his ground pumping round after round into Eaters coming into the camp. And he was right, too. Even with the shotgun firing flame spitting round after round, the Eaters just dropped, like sacks of potatoes. They didn’t fly back. They just piled up, knee high tangles of corpses.  He would take a shot, take a step, aim, and recheck it if he had to, and fire. A calm, crazy rhythmical procedure. Almost like a dance, or a file clerk shelving files. Except the files were the Eaters, the endlessly mass of dead-but-still-moving, and the shelves were shotgun rounds. His last words were for me to get his daughter out of there. He went down fighting, but not screaming. With his little girl over my shoulder fireman carry style, I turned back just as they were clawing for him, tearing at his face. He knocked them back with the shotgun, dropped it, and filed himself with his service piece. One shot in the forehead, and Asher was gone.

I ran with little Keely on my shoulder, full of electric pain and jerky, shaky energy. She was lighter than Deeg had been, but even her weight became a pile of bricks on my arm and back after the first dozen blocks. I slowed to a jog after that, then when it became apparent the eaters weren’t after me, I left the road, took to the roof of a house nearby the highway. I set Keely down, and she just lay there, eyes wide, shivering. She looked at me, but I had no idea what she saw, or what she felt. She was Frozen. 

But she was quiet, which was good, because about an hour after we made it to the roof large packs of Eaters filed past, a river of distended, bloated rotting  flesh. They filed past the house at a slow pace, using the road, the lawn, some of them being shoved and smeared against the siding of the house. It didn’t seem to bother them, even though a few were tripped and trampled beneath the rest of the pack. I lost count after the first few hundred.

I remembered a bright sunny afternoon, almost two decades past, when my history teacher was covering the expansion of the Americans westward, across the plains. My history teacher talked about vast herds of buffalo, that would go on and on for days. That night, as I watched the dead file past, soundless except for the noises their movement made, I remembered that bright sunny afternoon, and I wanted to cry. 

Instead, I just watched until I fell asleep. I slept badly, maybe an hour or two, tops. When I jerked awake and stifled my own scream, the sun was peaking up from the horizon out over the hills facing Kansas way. A few stragglers milled about in the streets below, and Keely had fallen asleep where I set her down. I shook her awake, and she came too fast. She wasn’t Frozen anymore, but her eyes had that same glassy “Can’t Be Happening” stare. She ate the sandwich I handed her, drank from the water can, and perched on the corner of the roof to void herself, while I stood on the opposite corner, keeping watch. When the stragglers gave us a half block of empty space I scrambled down the side, using the brick chimney to help me down. 

The Eaters turned when my feet crunched into the leaves on the ground, and my knife was out before I had gone three steps towards them. Three Eaters, all of them bigger than me, but all of them Eater-dumb. Knife to the eyes, and two minutes later the Eaters were just Rotters, like they were supposed to be the first time. My heart was hammering in my head and chest, but the whole thing had been quiet and the outcome certain. I finished them off, and Keely was walking across the driveway when I looked up.

She had tear stains down her dusty cheeks, but other than that, her look was less like a ten year old and more like a doll made to look like a human. Beautifully real, but empty.

I gestured with my hand. “Come on,” the gesture said.

She nodded and we made our way back to the interstate.