Copyright 2018 W. G. Sweet all rights reserved.
Cover Art © Copyright 2018 W. G. Sweet
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abbed his finger at the map and Maria leaned across and looked at the map, “Teddy Roosevelt Lake… Tonto National forest… Connected to Gila National forest… Cibola National forest. Pretty isolated.”
Maria turned her eyes back to the desert. There was little to see, but twice she had hit bushes that popped up out of what seemed like nowhere. They had passed under the truck, but there were cactus out here too in places, and she was pretty sure a cactus wouldn’t just pass under the truck.
“So… Why there?” Maria asked.
“Just a place to get ourselves together: Breath for a few moments, really look the map over and pick a destination.”
“Isn’t that taking us closer to Yellowstone, or whatever is causing the problems to the north?” Maria asked. They had both noticed thick plumes of black on the far horizon in that direction. The radio in the truck was dead: Static all across the dial.
“It is… But,” Jack checked the scale and did some quick measurements. “Still close to a thousand miles away from there.” He looked up. “I think it is Yellowstone. I heard something just before everything hit the fan, something about the park in Yellowstone.”
“What was it?” Maria asked.
“I don’t know,” Jack answered. He shrugged. “I wasn’t paying attention… Wish I had been… Something like everyone in the park went off line… Like they couldn’t reach any of the stations, rangers, whatever you call them… Something like that. And seismic activity, like an earthquake centered there.” He shrugged once more and shook his head.
“So it’s a good place to stay away from,” Maria said.
“Yeah… I would say so, but we’ll be a thousand miles away.” Jack shrugged once more.
“So, head north… We’ll have to cross a few highways… Just keep out from the cities… I mean Phoenix turns to suburbs that spread out a long way, at least that’s what the map looks like. Like it just kept spreading and so they just kept adding names.”
Off to their left the city was easy to spot. There were fires all through it. In some places huge sections were on fire, in others it was scattered fires. There were no areas that didn’t seem to be affected, and with the fires it was easy to track the edge of the cities as they drove.
Maria laughed. “So they just added names. Well, couldn’t the same be said about Los Angeles? About any large city as it grows? Isn’t that the way it works?”
“I guess… I hadn’t thought it out.”
“Going to have to cut through part of the city,” Maria said a few moments later.
Jack looked up from the map as the truck rolled to a stop. “A river.”
“Probably a canal…” Maria said. “Either way we can’t drive over it… Does it break anywhere?” She turned the truck and began to run along the side of the canal heading for the city once more. In the distance several fires burned, but the fires seemed to be several miles distance, nothing close. “Like a housing development or something,” Maria said a few minutes later as the truck bumped up onto a road that was paralleled by a brick wall. The wide concrete gutter was bone dry, the pavement smooth after so much time in the desert
“Not on the map…” He shrugged. “I just don’t know, Maria.”
Maria had stopped on the edge of the housing development. It was dark, lit only by the headlights of the truck. Cars and trucks sat neatly in driveways. The streets were empty. Heavy dust seemed to blanket the whole scene. Little trails cut from place to place.
“Spooky,” Jack said. “Volcanic ash?”
“Probably… What do you think the trails are?”
Jack frowned. “It has to be the dead.”
“It doesn’t have to be the dead… Could be small animals raiding house to house… No garbage any more so they have to get into those houses and get what they can or starve… Or it could be the dead.”
“Great, you had me ha…”
Something hit the truck hard and it rocked on its springs. The smell of death hit them about the same time, and Maria hit the gas, mashing the pedal into the floor boards.
A rotting hand came through the open back window and fastened around Maria’s throat, her hands left the wheel as she was yanked backwards; the truck spun hard to the left and accelerated, her foot still mashed on the gas.
Jack lifted his gun and shot the zombie in the face. It seemed slow motion at first, the face exploded as it fell away into the back of the pickup, Maria drew a deep breath and tried to grab the wheel, but it was too late. Everything sped up to real time and the truck roared forward and slammed into the side of a house, continuing on through the wall and into it. Her foot had slammed down on the brake and the truck finally stopped several feet inside the house.
Yellowstone: W.G. Sweet “In 1930 the Army did an exploratory survey. What they came up with was that there was a section of the Rocky Mountains missing; the team assumed that the largest crater of an extinct volcano lay before them… They were wrong…” https://goo.gl/m7PdCp