Zombie; a new Zombie novel from author Dell Sweet
Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet all rights reserved.
Cover Art © Copyright 2017 Dell Sweet
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This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living person’s places, situations or events is purely coincidental.
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This excerpt is used here with permission
This material is NOT edited for content and is rated 18+
Johnny had eased the truck up onto I10 and the tires bouncing over the broken asphalt had awakened Lana.
“Not a big city… A town from the looks of it. Phoenix is close. Ten, fifteen miles maybe. Can’t really tell from the map,” Johnny said. A gas station loomed out of the early morning gray and Johnny wheeled the truck under the roof that covered the pumps intending to siphon some gas to top off the trucks tanks. He shut off the motor and they both listened to the tick of the hot metal for a few seconds as it cooled.
“Coffee would be really nice,” Lana said. “No way do we want to go into Phoenix… Too dangerous.” She yawned and then covered her mouth and laughed. “Mal aliento, dios… Morning breath.” She zipped open her knapsack, retrieved a bottle of water, her toothbrush and some toothpaste. She stepped down from the truck.
Johnny opened his door and settled his feet onto the pavement. It wasn’t just old pavement, he saw, it was gray, washed out, used up: There was no black left in it. Lana stood slightly in front of the truck, her gun in one hand, the toothbrush working around her mouth on its own. In a blur her free hand was reaching to catch the rifle which was just coming free of her shoulder. Johnny had his own rifle off his shoulder and into his hands before he even saw what had alarmed her. She spit out the toothbrush, pulled her gun and flicked the safety off. Three men stepped out of the shadows of the open garage bay.
They were kids, Johnny saw. Or at least not much more than kids. They walked slowly forward.
Lana raised the rifle and pointed it at the lead kid. “That’s it.” She said.
She didn’t scream it, softly spoke it, Johnny thought later, but the kids stopped in their tracks.
“What’s with the fuckin’ guns?” The lead kid asked.
“Ours weren’t aimed at you until you aimed yours at us,” Johnny said. He hoped he sounded as cool as Lana had.
“Bullshit,” one of the other kids said. “You had it in your hands when I looked at you. That’s why I got mine ready.”
“I don’t want to kill anyone today,” Lana said.
“It really don’t bother me,” The third kid said. His eyes were blood shot. They had interrupted him while he was sleeping, it seemed. He kept rubbing at his eyes, Lana saw.
“I think you’re right… Can’t matter if you’re dead,” Lana said.
“Hey,” the lead kid said, “Maybe all’s we want is to party a little.”
“Well I don’t know if Johnny swings that way,” Lana said.
“Pretty funny,” the kid responded. “Look… It’s our town. We ain’t the only ones here. You shoot there will be twenty more here in seconds. Then everybody dies.”
“Oh… I guess I didn’t see it right,” Lana said. “I can see where it might be preferable to get raped and then murdered instead of getting murdered outright.”
The one in the back, the one with the sleepy eyes, stiffed a yawn and reflexively raised one hand to his mouth as his eyes slipped shut for a split second. Lana shot the lead kid in that split second, Johnny had the second guy a moment later. The third kid opened his eyes to a changed situation.
“Just give me a reason,” Lana said. “Any reason.” The kid released the rifle he held and it dropped from his hands to the pavement.
“Can’t shoot me I ain’t got no gun… Can’t… Can’t shoot me…” He spun and looked off toward a rag tag collection of trailers that lined a dirt road in back of the station. “James!” he screamed. “James! Killers!” he turned back to Johnny and Lana. “Can’t shoot me… I ain’t armed… Can’t…” Johnny shot him.
A second later the truck roared to life and Johnny spun the wheel hard heading back towards the drop off from the pavement, back the way they had come.
Lana bounced around the cab and smacked her head hard enough on the windshield to star the glass when the truck left the pavement at better than fifty miles an hour and hit the hard packed dirt that ran alongside I10. She finally got her balance, swept one hand across her forehead, looked at the blood and cursed lightly in Spanish. Behind them three trucks had launched off the pavement and were running hard to catch them.
“Dammit,” Johnny said. He pushed the pedal to the floor, there was nothing else for it. The glass in the back window starred a second later as Lana rammed the rifle stock into it. Another hit and the glass fell out into the pickup bed area. She raised the rifle and began to fire back at the trucks. A second later a hole punched through the windshield to Johnny’s left. He mashed the pedal harder into the floorboard feeling the truck skate across the hardscrabble of the desert as it flew beside the highway.
“We have to get north, the other side of the highway. If they squeeze us south we’ll be in the goddamn Mexican desert,” Lana yelled above the scream of the engine.
“There’s stalled cars up there,” Johnny yelled back. “On the highway!”
“There are bullets down here and they’re gaining on us,” Lana yelled back.
“Better sit down,” Johnny yelled.
“Just do it, Johnny!” She continued to fire out the back window.
Johnny turned the wheel hard right and the truck lurched hard to the left, threatening to roll over as the center of gravity changed. It nearly rolled before it hit the edge of the pavement, broke over, and then became airborne. It came within ten feet of a stalled, wrecked semi and trailer and then it plunged off the other side of the highway so smoothly that Johnny couldn’t believe it had actually landed.
“Nearly broke my neck slamming it into the ceiling,” Lana yelled. She fell silent. “I…” She started, but an explosion from the highway stopped her words.
“Hit that truck,” Johnny screamed. “Has to be.”
“Keep it floored though, Johnny. Keep it floored.” She stayed where she was, staring out the back window, knees driven into the seat top. Johnny’s eyes strayed to her ass, and then snapped back to the road. He watched the hard packed earth fly by.
“Roads coming up… Dirt roads,” Johnny said. He had no sooner said it than the truck hit the slight rise and flew across it.
“Like back roads, looks like,” Lana said. “Nothing on the map.” She was trying her best to read the map as the truck bounced and tilted. One hand clutching the seat back held her in a somewhat stable position as she looked at the roads. “Looks like all dirt roads, back roads and then it falls away to nothing. Just keep it pointed at the mountains in the distance.” She turned completely around and sat down with the map in her lap. “Must have hit the truck or each other. Whatever it was I don’t think they will feel like coming after us again… Johnny, we can’t screw up like that again. I don’t know what I was thinking letting my guard down like that, Dios mio!”
Johnny said nothing. Lana went back to reading the map.
“Start breaking left, Johnny. There’s a river… No, maybe some sort of waterway, not a river, too straight. It ends and then picks up again a few miles later. We can get through and into the desert from there.” She looked at the map for a few more minutes, “Maybe twenty miles or so. Just run right by I10 and we should be good.” She turned and peeked over the back seat once more. “We’re leaving a lot of dust, Johnny.”
He looked over at her.
“We gotta figure this out too. I mean, we’re going backwards, back to where we came,” Lana said.
“I could loop out deep and then swing back,” Johnny said.
“Yeah, except in this desert you can see dust for miles… The dust is the problem.” She leaned over and looked at the gas gauge. “Less than a half tank.” She frowned.
“We’ve got gas in the back,” Johnny threw in.
“I’m thinking this… We hit that water way, or an out building, has to be something around here. We crash, sleep the day away, and then tonight we run across the desert to the other side of Phoenix. What do you think?”
“Sounds like a plan… I’m shot,” Johnny agreed.
“Okay, so take the next road that crosses, slow down to keep the dust down and let’s start looking for a place to hide for the day… We’ve got enough gas in the back we can get a long way before we need to find a station if we don’t burn it up running in circles and backtracking.”
Johnny slowed the truck and began heading to the right, the east. “One of those towers will do… High voltage lines? Something like that. Just scrap metal now, but that will hide us if we drive right up to it,” Lana said.
They drove to the tower and a dirt service road that circled it and continued to the north. Johnny pulled the truck up close to the tower and shut it down. The silence held for a few moments, he fisted his hands into his eyes. “Jesus, I’m shot.”
“Come here,” Lana said. She pulled him down to the seat and laid his head in her lap. She began to rub lightly at his temples.
“God, don’t do that, It’ll put me to sleep,” Johnny told her half jokingly.
“Which is why I’m doing it.” She stretched her legs, angled them across to the drivers side floorboard, and leaned back into the door. The last thing she remembered was smoothing the hair out of his eyes and then she spiraled away into a series of dreams.
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