The second chapter of my upcoming zombie book The Abiding Dead. Comments welcome
CHAPTER II—Dead Ahead
December 8th 1:15 am
Two Hours to Midway
The van sped past a large green sign: US-93 Las Vegas 105 Miles.
The van rolled over a small bump on the road. Johns head tilted on its side and he awoke, looking out the windows as the car passed the street lamps on the side of the road. It was way past midnight, and his parents were arguing over which exit to turn on to get to Midway. They ended up taking a right, seeing as his mother always won at arguments. The road soon went dark as they passed the last few streetlights. There was a click as his father turned on the high beams, and a sudden brake as an animal crossed the road safely.
The car rounded the exit and for a split second the high beams illuminated a hitchhiker. John seemed to be the only one who saw this dark figure after the lights shown away from him. His arms were raised, either to block the light from shining in his face or he was trying to get attention with a hitchhikers thumb. The one feature that John wishes he hadn’t seen: the haunting white eyes that shown in the dark. He shook his head and ignored the thought.
“Hey mom, you awake?” He asked drowsily. He saw her head nod.
“How far away are we?” John asked. He shifted in his seat and leaned forward to look at the time.
His mother replied with a yawn. “I don’t know, probably another hour or two. Get some rest. I’ll wake you up when we get there.”
As much as John wanted to, he couldn’t sleep. He still had the picture of that pale hitchhiker with the bright moonlit eyes. Even if he hadn’t seen him he couldn’t sleep anyway, not with his sleep apnea.
John looked out the window and up at the dark sky glittered with stars. He yawned, and lay back on his seat; already a qualified adult and he still had to sit in the back seat of his parents’ mini-van.
John couldn’t help but remember the night his mother told him about what had happened to his father. The lung cancer, due to much smoking or inhalation, was always denied by his dad. The family tried to make the best of it, since nobody wanted to hear him with his robotic microphone voice. He hated the fact that it was too late to get a lung replacement, or the fact that he may die of the cancer. John shook his head again to get rid of the terrible thought.
The radar detector his dad hid on the front of his rear-view mirror started to beep and John made sure he and his parents had their seatbelts on. John tried to spot the squad car before they passed it. Sure enough it was hidden by a large bundle of wood. John winced and looked forward then his eyes went wide and he tried to look back as quick as he could. Sure enough his eyes didn’t mistake him. The driver’s side door window was smashed in, along with blood and flesh that may have well been scraped off as the vehicles owner was violently pulled out of the vehicle.
John wanted to say something, but nothing came out but a sickening croak. John realized he was holding his breath in and exhaled. As much as he hated the bad habit, it always warned him to calm down.
As soon as he caught his breath he was getting ready to speak. Just before he opened his mouth the vehicle came to a screeching halt. Something was walking in front of the vehicle.
There was a man crouched over some road kill—he wore a black police uniform. He didn’t even bother looking behind him. He grabbed the road kill and dragged it off the road, as if he was limping or having a hard time pulling it.
Am I the only one seeing this?
“Must be the midnight road kills cleaner” His father spoke. He didn’t even acknowledge that the cop was hurt, or that the road kill he was dragging just happened to have a pair of shoes on.
“Nearly gave me a heart attack” his mother responded.
The van began to move forward, over the blood smeared across the black road.
The sickness in John’s stomach returned.
I’m seeing shit. That’s all. That was probably just some deer that somebody threw shoes at.
As much as John wanted to believe that, it was highly unlikely.
After 15 minutes of utter silence John was finally getting drowsy. The last thing he wanted was his parents to start worrying on a dark access road. Once again the van came to a high-pitched screeching halt. A bright blinding light illuminated the inside of the car.
Another security checkpoint? Give us a break, as if we haven’t had enough suspicions as a pure Mexican family.
This time, however, was different. There were no buildings, cameras or guard dogs; instead there was an enormous roadblock. There were several armored military vehicles blocking the entire road with about ten men in black security outfits in front of them.
Atop of the M1117 ASV’s were three bulky guards. The one crouched behind the large turret stared down the scope of a M82 .50 caliber sniper rifle. To his left was a bear of a man hefting what looked like an HK XM8 rifle with a large belt fed magazine. Last but not least was a man with a pair of night vision binoculars out with an FN Scar Rifle. If John didn’t know this much about guns he wouldn’t be as scared as he is right now.
John’s father turned off the high-beams as one of the men came up to the side of the van. He held a small flashlight in his right hand and slung what looked like a brand new M-1014 Combat Shotgun over his shoulder. He shined the light in his fathers face as he rolled down the window.
This much firepower for a roadblock? Damn.
“I’m sorry sir but this is a restricted area, I’m going to have to ask you to turn around and head back.” The armed man said.
This is the road to Las Vegas. What the hell is going on?
John’s father was always stubborn and had to know everything before he listened to anyone.
“May I ask why?” he questioned. John’s mother pushed his shoulder.
“This area is under a strict quarantine, now I’m giving you a final warning, turn back.” The man replied in a somewhat angered tone.
John heard of these quarantines, it happens when there are hazardous waste or biochemical spills. He became just as curious as his father.
“Arturo, lets just turn around; Midway can wait until tomorrow.” John’s mother said. His father sighed and began to roll up the window.
John sat back in his seat. He wanted to say something to the man. But he shot John a look that could have stopped a bullet in its tracks.
The man at the door looked behind him and un-slung his shotgun; he slammed on the top of the roof of the van and yelled for them to get going.
There was gunfire, and John’s mother leaned down to cover her head. John was too drawn into the fact that he was right in the midst of what looked like a fire-fight. Arturo geared the van in reverse and slammed the gas pedal down—the car then stalled. John’s heart began to race as his father restarted the car. He soon saw exactly what was going on.
There was a large delivery truck heading straight towards the road block. It was on fire as the bullets peppered its windshields and tires. The driver seemed to be under attack by his passenger.
John fell onto his side and covered his head as the sound of automatic weapon fire filled his eardrums. There was a loud thump and the inside of the van grew bright as the vehicle slammed into the road-block and ignited into billows of fire and metal parts. The delivery truck turned end over end as it skidded closer to the van John and his parents were in. John got a glimpse of the truck slamming into the front end of their vehicle.
He heard his mother scream and the van flipped over. John instinctively curled up and stuck his arm out to stop from hitting his head; he was held in midair for a split second and soon thudded on the flipped over ceiling of the van. The glass cracked, and then shattered as hundreds of small shards carpeted the ground, cutting the back of his neck.
There was yet another crashing sound as something made it through the window next to him. Whatever it was that John couldn’t see had grabbed at his arm which was pinned down by the seat. And like an animal it gashed down on his forearm and tore a chunk of flesh and blood. John screamed in pain as the blood flow spurt out of the large wound. Just about as the creature was going in for another bite something had seized it. John was finally able to turn his head and look at the terrible wound. A bite the size of a small lime was ripped off of his arm. John caught a glimpse of the creature as it was pulled out of sight—with its human arms scratching at the ground. John wanted to get his other arm moving so he could cover his painful wound. It throbbed until it went numb. John was getting dizzy due to the amount of blood loss.
Lying in pain he turned his head to look at what used to be the front of the van. The entire front half of the minivan was gone, and his parents were nowhere in sight. John felt a trickle of sweat or a tear roll down his cheek, but soon noticed it to be blood. He felt like crying, but not out of pain, instead, of the fear that he may have actually lost his parents. He screamed out-loud and cursed under his breath. He coughed out blood and tried to move his legs. He heard yelling and a faint screeching sound in his ears as his vision went black. The large hand of the bear sized man freed his wounded arm then pulled him out of the wreck.
John awoke to the memory of his mothers scream, and began to blink. Wherever he was it was bright, and there were faint blobs of movement and noise. He heard voices, or at least he thought they were. He could make out a few words like “Get--dying” and “ready the vaccine.” He closed his eyes and honestly did feel like dying. His arm and stomach ached and he tried to open his mouth. He gagged as he tried to breathe through something stuck in his throat. His throat was cold as air went to his lungs, and he couldn’t swallow. He kept trying to clear his vision, blinking constantly, trying to move or talk. He was able to turn his head on its side, and made out a figure lying in a bed, her face was then covered in a white sheet—it was his mother. He let out a small scream and tried to hold back whatever feeling he was trying to show.
He shook his head and was soon able to make out a figure that was moving. It was a man, dressed in a blue-green medical uniform; he had old pale skin and was wearing a mask over his face, his arms where moving from place to place so quick it made John dizzier. He looked at the apron the man was wearing and saw spots of crimson. His gloves where covered in it. The last thing he saw: a medical severer cutting through his bitten arm.
Midway—1 Hour ago.
“Mira, there’s another one in the lawn.” said the female voice of Julia Guerrero.
“I already see it—” spoke Carlos. “These eyes maybe 68 years old but I can still shoot a damn flea off of a horse’s back.”
Carlos fired his rifle and the bullet impacted into a gory mess of blood and chunks of skull. The zombie stumbled and fell backward onto the dying grass. Carlos picked up a half empty bottle of whiskey and gulped some down. Soon there was another one, this time with a workers cap on. Carlos aimed down the sights of his M21 semi automatic. He fired and the cap flew off the creature’s head causing it to fall backward. Not a second later a second round hit it under the chin and escaped through the back of its head just before it hit the ground.
In the distance were moans and screams echoing across the fertile desert. Gunfire and explosions made it evidently clear that the town was overrun. Soon the population of Midway would be undead than alive and dead combined. It didn’t take Carlos any thinking to know what he had to do. He ordered his neighbors and friends that were held up in his house to secure all the windows and doors. In minutes the whole building was secure with barricades, enough guns and ammo to take out small village in Nam, and enough food for two weeks.
“¿Qué ahora hacemos?” asked Julia.
“We wait, and stay alive until help gets here.”
Meanwhile at Ray’s Crib
“Who the fuck ate that last of the chips?” Ray yelled across the house.
“Shut up Ray, they might hear you.” Shelby whispered.
“Then I’ll just go out there and tear their damn ears off.” Ray then puffed on a cigarette he had taken from a pack stuffed in his pocket. Ray’s ‘crib’ was not the most ideal place to hold off a zombie attack. Had the doors and windows not been boarded up then the place would have been taken over hours ago. Luckily his best friend left him a copy The Zombie Survival Guide. He flipped through the pages to see what he had to do next.
“Food is good—save for the chips—weapons? Aw shit.”
“You don’t have any guns?!”
“Well I’m not a gun slinging crack shot named Johnny G. Besides I don’t have the money for it. All we got is a baseball bat, a sledgehammer, and a piece of shit hand axe.”
“O god we’re gonna die.” Shelby cried.
“Go upstairs with Andy. Mr. Ramirez, Earl and I can take care of shit down here.” Without speaking Shelby ran up the stairs to the room with Andy, John’s sister, accompanied by a few other friends.
“We need to get out of here guys. Earl? How much gas do you got in your truck?” Ray asked.
“I have enough gas for a few miles. Why?”
“We need guns, and I know a place where we can find some.”