A hand broke through into the moonlight. A few minutes later a young woman’s head pushed up, and then she levered her arms upward and began to strain to pull herself up and out of the grave.
Copyright 2017 W. G. Sweet
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Portions copyright 2010, 2014, 2015 by W. G. Sweet.
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I got up a second ago just to move around. The silence is killing me. How can it be so quiet? I made the circuit, nothing. The whiskey is gone and no effect left from it either. Maybe my body just can’t respond to it any longer. Maybe there is nothing left that can shock it. I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW!
Sorry… I should just say to hell with writing this out. I mean it’s like some sort of penance, isn’t it? Feels like it is. I hate it, but it is so real in my head, and I don’t really know that it can’t help someone else if it’s down on paper… Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. Where was I at… Arizona…
I remember that night in Arizona… I thought Lana was dead…
She awoke with a gasp and sat upright. The movement caused pain to flare inside her head and her hands flew to either side of it as if to hold the pain inside.
“Here,” Johnny said from beside her. “Drink this… Coffee.” He handed her the paper cup.
“Dios… Johnny, my head is killing me,” Lana moaned. She sat carefully for a few seconds longer, holding her head steady, before edging open one eye and looking around her. The blanket that had been covering her slipped down and she reached for it unconsciously, catching it before it could slip off and onto the floor.
She was laying on a table, soft blankets beneath her, her shirt had been stripped off. Her bra was stiff with dried blood. “Ay Dios Mio,” she said softly.
“Come on, Lana. Drink the coffee, and,” He held out his other hand. “Aspirin… At least I think it’s aspirin. Some off brand, but it’ll help that headache.”
Lana tried a small smile on her face, took the aspirin and the coffee and managed to get the aspirin down.
“Johnny, that really is coffee, bad coffee, but real coffee.” Lana said. Her eyes were traveling around the room. Vending machines, including a coffee machine with the front door pried off.
“There was the powder that it’s made from inside… I just liberated it and made it over a fire.” He turned and pointed back through the glass into a garage area where she could see he had dragged a camping stove of some kind and hooked it up to some bottled propane. The small cook surface looked funny with the giant propane cylinder next to it. Johnny laughed. “Yeah… Not exactly made for each other, but it’s good enough.”
Lana looked Johnny up and down. He was dressed in clean clothes. “Where did you go shopping,” she asked as she sipped at the coffee. She swung her legs off the table and a wave of dizziness swept over her. Her stomach clenched and for a moment she was sure the coffee and aspirin were on their way back up, after a short battle they decided to stay. For how long she didn’t know, but she did know she had to take it slower.
“Slow, Lana,” Johnny said as if he had looked into her mind and stolen her words.
“Got you… Got you,” Lana agreed.
“Clothes in the back, Lana. Lockers. I’m guessing this was some sort of ranchers place… Maybe a big operation… Cattle? Crops? I don’t know. Bags of fertilizer, fencing, overalls, gloves, trucks, and about thirty lockers back there, most with clothes still in them.”
Her fingers crept up her head and felt carefully under her hairline. “Are those stitches I feel?” She asked.
“Yeah,” Johnny agreed. “Had to. Used dental floss and a needle. You never budged, scared me, Lana.”
“Well, if I had moved I would probably have kicked you right in the sac…” She sighed, “Thanks, Johnny… What happened… We were somewhere,” Her face clouded, but she could not bring the memory.
“That housing project?” Johnny prompted.
“Nope,” Lana said.
“Nicer homes… Back toward Phoenix?”
“Nope,” Lana said again.
“We were running at night…”
“That I remember,” Lana agreed.
“Okay, so we stopped to check out this housing project. Like upscale houses out in the desert. It looked empty, but it was full of zombies. One got you through the window…”
Lana’s hand went to her throat. It was bruised and yellowed in the bright light inside the room. Lana looked around and then up. The ceiling lights were on.
“Yeah… So you do remember,” Johnny said.
“Yeah… Muerto.” Her eyes went to the lights and then back to Johnny’s face. “We got away.”
“Barely,” Johnny agreed.” He followed her eyes up to the lights. “Generator.” He stopped talking so she could hear it.
“Okay… So that’s that sound,” Lana said. She cleared her throat, drank some more of the coffee and then cleared her throat again. “I didn’t get bitten, did I? You?”
“No… I would have done it if I had to, but no. They didn’t get us.” Johnny said.
“Would have killed me?” Lana asked.
“Johnny, it’s okay to say you would have… It wouldn’t be me… It would be one of those things and I don’t want to be one of those things, Johnny.”
“I know… I would have killed it. No way would I have let you become that.” Johnny swallowed hard and the silence fell, just the generator chugging away.
Lana eased her feet slowly to the floor and tested her weight. Better than earlier, but she decided to sit a while longer. She drained the cup and Johnny took it.
“You want more?” He asked.
“I need water, just plain old water.” She looked around hopefully.
“Got that. A water cooler. You can even have it cold with the power on.” He was back just a few moments later with a new cardboard cup, this one filled with cold water.
“Dios… Cold water in the desert. I would not have believed that,” Lana said.
“Yeah,” Johnny agreed. “Not much longer though. There isn’t much fuel oil. That’s what it runs on. It was meant for short power outages. It’s been on two days now.”
Lana choked on the water. Coughing bought the headache back, slamming into her forehead hard. She nearly passed out. Johnny was right there, an arm around her, holding her. She took a breath, another, and she was all right again. She would just have to wait on the headache to retreat once more.
“Come on, Lana. Let me get you into a chair.” Before she could argue he picked her up and carried her to a nearby chair. Not one of the plastic ones scattered around, a leather one. Beat up, but comfortable. She sank back into the chair and immediately began to feel better. “Si, verdad? Two days here?”
“No. Three. It took a day to get the generator going. It wasn’t designed to run after the initial time allotted. It would come on, run a while and shut right back off. I had to wire it direct. Maybe some safety feature so it wouldn’t run out completely. I had to fill the tank from fifty five gallon drums, that was a bitch, but once I cut out the safety, filled her up, she started and stayed running. We’re down to a quarter tank though… No more fuel oil… So I’m glad you’re back.”
Lana upended the cup and drained it. It was amazing how good the water could make her feel. Like new life and strength being poured into her. Johnny bought her another and then another before she sat back into the chair. Her eyes fell on a vending machine with crackers, cookies and bagged chips. The door was ajar. Johnny followed her eyes.
He laughed. “Cookies, crackers, chips?” He asked.
“Yeah,” Lana said. Hunger had suddenly leapt up in her stomach. She was starved. Johnny came back with a couple of packs of each and she ate greedily as he talked.
“Maps out in the garage. I can’t tell exactly where we are though. Somewhere to the southwest of Gold Canyon is my guess. I didn’t see anything here with an address on it, letterhead, no signs on the trucks. Nice trucks though, so it made money, whatever it was.”
“I’m going by where I think we are. I know we crossed over water before we got here, a bridge across a viaduct, at least it looked that way in the dark. But we didn’t cross a highway, and 60 is right there, couldn’t have missed it. Of course, we could be a little farther north or a little more south. But even so we have to hit 60 it’s right there, so I’m pretty sure the next thing up is going to be 60.”
Lana said nothing, the food was like heaven, but the crackers were a little dry so Johnny left and came back with a cup of water and a Coke. The Coke was also cold. She nearly drained it in one pull. It was like her body was bent on a mission of replenishing itself in one setting. She made herself stop. “Good, but I don’t want to get sick.” She said to Johnny’s raised eyebrows.
“Any dead… At night? In here when you got here?”
“One… Took himself out in the office.” He motioned through the glass. “Put him outside. Turned black in the sun in a day or so.” He stopped and cleared his throat, left and came back with a Coke for each of them. “None of the others. Not one. Nights are quiet… Truck runs good. I gassed it up, swapped better tires onto it too from the rack in the garage. Pretty easy to do. Extra gas cans, oil, a bunch of those blankets.” He paused for a second.
“You look… Clean.” She had looked down a few seconds before at her gore stained bra and jeans. She’d been in these clothes far too long.
“Shower in the back. Hot water too once I got the electric on.”
“De veras, and I am sitting here talking?” She stood from the chair, found her stomach did not intend to give her a hard time and turned to Johnny. “Clothes?”
“Sure… I… I don’t know if…” He turned red.
“Yeah,” Lana said. She laughed. “No bra, panties?”
“Right,” Johnny agreed.
“Well I don’t care if it is boxers, a t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Clean clothes, Johnny” She looked around her… “Soap… A towel… That is it. Where is it?”
“Um. Right here,” Johnny said as he stepped to the door and pushed it open for her.
Johnny returned to the lunch room a few moments later and cleaned up the blankets and empty cups while he waited.
#Zombie #Apocalypse #Undead #Kobo