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Mechanical Failure, Chap. 4a (zombie apocalypse novel in progress)

August 23, 2013


A bit of the intersection was visible from the far edge of Jeanette’s large picture window, so that’s where I waited. It was only about five minutes before the first of the dead began to appear. At first none of them turned onto Mulberry Street, so I hoped that maybe they’d lost me. I was actually starting to relax when I noticed movement from the corner of my eye. Stepping back quickly, I forgot and put weight on my injured leg. I bit back a scream of agony, grabbing the wall for support until the wave of pain finally passed. When I felt that I could move again, I hopped closer, and carefully looked outside to see what had caught my eye. One of the dead things stood in the street, just past the house. He seemed to be looking around, and I wondered if he was searching for me, or if he had maybe just followed a bird or cat this way. That happened all the time. The dead would trail something for a while then just stop and stand around when they lost sight of it. Some of them eventually returned to a specific place, and others didn’t. I always saw the same teenage girl zombie loitering outside the theater, clutching a red purse. Perhaps a residual memory had her standing there, eternally waiting for a boyfriend that would never arrive. Thoughts like this saddened me and they made it a little harder to kill the undead. I wanted to think of them as mindless husks, possessed by some other force that I needed to drive away.

I often saw some of my deceased neighbors near my house, and my husband, Patrick, tended to spend most of his time there as well. It would have been so much easier if he’d have gone somewhere else where I didn’t have to see him. It was pure torture for me. His thick blond hair was now matted with blood and gore from the gaping wound where his ear used to be. His eyes, which had always been a vibrant blue, were now the same milky white that I saw on all of the dead. Most of his throat had been ripped out, so I knew that even if a cure was ever found, he was beyond help. I couldn’t look at him without wondering about his last moments, certain that he had died in terrible pain. What kind of terror had he felt as his last breath had left his body?

I blinked away tears, not wanting to think about him. When I didn’t dwell on Patrick, my life was tolerable, and I kept busy just trying to survive. The other times, the times that I let my mind linger in the past, I didn’t care so much about staying alive, and I always began to ask myself if I even wanted to exist in this sort of a world. Those dark thoughts were dangerous, and it was best not to let them take hold, but I knew that as long as Patrick was around, the darkness would fester inside me.

Pushing the bad thoughts away, I eased a little closer to the window again and peeked out. It appeared that much of the group that had followed me from my house was loitering in the intersection, and had that “bored and distracted” look about them. This usually meant that something had caught their attention momentarily, which was not good. I’d counted on them continuing down the street until it dead-ended before wandering back up the hill.

Some of them were turning onto Mulberry and moving my way. Others were returning the way they’d come, and a few looked like they were continuing the trek down the hill. I wished that I had a better view of it all, but I wasn’t going to risk getting any closer to the window. If one of them got so much as a glimpse of me through the shutters, or saw a shadow of movement, I’d be found out.

I backed farther away and looked around. The house would not be easily defendable because it had a lot of big windows downstairs, but it did have a second floor that I might be able to block off. If I kept quiet and didn’t let the zombies see me, I just might be able to stay long enough for my ankle to heal.

Making my way to the kitchen, I looked out the back door at the yard. Like my house, this one was also surrounded by a cinder block wall. There was also a pool, but the water in it was green and thick with algae. My purification tablets were back at the house, but hopefully I could find some bleach or chlorine to make the water useable. If not, it would have to be boiled.

I did a quick search of the first floor though I’d already checked it once when things had first gotten bad. Jeanette had told me that she was going to go to the shelter, but I’d had to visit her house to be sure. I’d been both disappointed and relieved to find the place empty, knowing that her absence meant that she was probably dead. At least I wouldn’t have to deal with her walking corpse, which would have been almost as bad as seeing Patrick.

I had appropriated some supplies on my last visit. There had been a lot of pasta and flour, and I’d taken most of it, knowing that the bugs would get into it if it sat around too long. The canned goods had been left behind for later.

Going through the cupboards again, I was thrilled to find a blue 5-gallon bottle of water in the back of the pantry. I hadn’t seen a water dispenser so I wasn’t sure why she had the bottle, but I didn’t care. It would work well for drinking and cooking, leaving the pool water for bathing and other things.

The garage was full of odds and ends, which made searching for the crutches difficult. The slightest noise would give me away, and I had to move at a crawl to keep that from happening. It was almost an hour before I finally accomplished my goal and was able to move back into the house.

I adjusted the crutches to fit me, since Jeanette was a little shorter than I was. Once that was done, I checked the front window again and was pleased to see the street almost empty. I made my way to the downstairs bathroom, and used some first aid supplies to clean my cuts and scrapes. If any of the open wounds had been contaminated with zombie blood or saliva, I was as good as dead, but there was no point in dwelling on that too much, since there was nothing that could be done about it. Cleaning the wounds thoroughly would at least decrease the chances of other infections, since running to the pharmacy for antibiotics was not going to be an option. Saving my ankle for last, I wrapped it with an Ace bandage. It was horribly swollen and turning purple and I still didn’t know if it was broken or sprained, but it didn’t matter. I was out of commission for a while, one way or the other.

~to be continued~

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