Before leaving, we decided to go to the other RV and give it a good search for more supplies and possibly weapons. We also wanted to make sure the couples were truly dead even though they hadn’t revived when we checked the first time and hadn’t heard any noise from there. I was going to do it but Heidi stopped me and said she and Cal would go. I asked her why and told her she didn’t have to. Cal still had to prove he wasn’t a coward and she simply said she had to go. I left it at that. I don’t know if she was proving something to us or if she just had to face the horror of what we were all living through. Either way, I stepped aside and let them go while the rest of us prepared our motorhome. Marla made sure everything was secured while I decided to try to start the motorhome. It would all be for nothing if the vehicle was dead like its owners. I turned the key and thankfully the RV roared to life with no issue. That was one worry out of the way.
Marla put Hunter and Marco to work, counting the food and water stores in the cupboards and fridge while Parker went outside and siphoned gas from the other vehicle into a spare gas can. After I finished dealing with the mechanics of the motorhome, I walked down the path to the main road to see if there was anything to actually see. There was still nothing and no one in sight except sky and trees with no signs of cars, people or zombies. I dared to think that our luck might hold for a while longer.
Heidi and Cal spent a good 20 minutes in the other RV while the rest of us finished prepping and waited. They came out, both looking pale but carrying 2 backpacks and a couple of grocery bags. No one asked what else they found or if the couples were dead, dead. Nothing needed to be said. It was beyond time to leave the quiet and isolation of the campsite and everyone silently agreed. We packed ourselves into the motorhome, Cal placing the kitchen knives and hatchet he found in one of the cupboards and locking it while Heidi put the bags of food and water with the rest of the supplies. Marla decided to take the helm with no objections from the rest of us. I headed to the passengers’ seat to act as co-pilot using Parker’s rough map as a navigation tool along with the road atlas and of course, I had gun at the ready.
At my request Marla stopped at the jeep near the booth at the entrance to the campground. Cal searched the booth and I scouted out the jeep. It was empty but blood covered the steering wheel and front seats. The driver was gone and had clearly suffered either before dying or escaping whatever torment he faced and then died somewhere out of the immediate area. I felt wrong, almost dirty searching this blood stained vehicle knowing that someone had suffered a gruesome death here recently. I made the search quick and came up with a few chocolates bars, a lighter and sunglasses in the glove box. There was nothing in the backseat. Reluctantly, I put my hand under the seats and felt only damp stickiness from the blood. I wiped my hand on the cleanest part of the seat, grabbed the glove box contents and headed to back.
Cal had better luck finding a pack with some junk food, flares, a crossword puzzle book, flashlight and a six-pack of beer. I suppose being out in these woods all alone gets lonely and dull. Cal smiled triumphantly at the beer and I almost asked for one knowing it was probably 8am and aware that we were running from zombies and could be attacked at any time. Perhaps it was wrong to want a beer at that moment but we were kind of facing the end of the world and it didn’t seem to matter. I held my tongue and filed away the beer for later.
“Did you get anything Louis?” Cal asked as he put the 6 pack in a cooler and tossed the backpack under the table.
I shook my head and said there was nothing and no one in the jeep. Marla started up the motorhome again and we slowly continued down the gravel road to the highway. The kids stayed in the back with Heidi and Cal who kept watch out of the windows for anything approaching while Parker did the same from the living area. The noise from the RV should have brought out dozens of zombies immediately but we only spotted a handful of them, most of which were too mutilated to be a threat. I wanted to kill them and end the suffering of those once live humans but we couldn’t stop. It would be too risky and besides, we had bigger problems as we started heading north on a highway littered with abandoned vehicles.
The road was a maze and it would be slow going to get through the chaos left by panicked people and attacking monsters. There was dread that it would be only a matter of time before we wouldn’t be able to go forward in the RV and be back on foot. I hoped that wouldn’t happen and as we plodded along that hope faded into fear as the zombies finally started showing themselves. They were indeed being drawn out by the sound of the motorhome. The creatures emerged from inside and under vehicles and I wondered how long it been since anyone had been on the highway. There approach was slow but it was enough for us to start feeling the urgency of getting past the tangle of cars and hauling ass out of here.
“Maybe we should kill them.” Marla’s voice was strained with the pressure of trying to navigate through the metal and chrome and now flesh obstacle course. “They’ll just keep following us. We could take out the ones right behind us.”
“But then we would have to keep shooting because they aren’t going to stop coming.” Parker said.
As much as I wanted to do what Marla suggested, get rid of the immediate threat, they would just keep coming and it would only be a matter of time before we became bogged down or overwhelmed. Stopping and starting over and over would make our attempt to put distance between us and the creatures pointless. Not that we were doing so great anyway. The further we went the more we were drawing out the zombies, not to mention that we had started to slow down to avoid more and more dead vehicles. I was getting anxious just sitting and watching the monsters shamble out from wherever they had fallen and moved as best as they could due to decay, gore and mutilation. For the most part they were slow and that made it all the more frustrating to be doing nothing to stop them.
I tried to look beyond the immediate surroundings and saw nothing helpful, nothing that promised a break from this meandering that had become our escape. I decided to go to the roof of the RV with the thought that I might be able to see a clear path through. What I didn’t take into account was how I would get up there and once I came up with a plan it wasn’t pretty or nearly as flawless and cool as I had pictured. The air vent in the centre of the RV roof comes off easily enough and I’m thin enough to fit through but I had to get a boost from Parker and Cal and Marla could only keep steady for short spurts. I finally made it up, got stable and wished I hadn’t been so curious.
The view didn’t improve my optimism about our journey and made my heart sink. I couldn’t see any relief from the endless amounts of vehicles askew and as for the zombies, they were scattered all over the place. Little specks moving in crowds for the most part except for off in the distance where a dense spot of what I guessed to be bodies crowded around something. As I strained to make out what the creatures were drawn to I realized that we were gradually heading in that direction right toward the crowd. A million thoughts went through my head but the predominant one was that the crowd appeared to be at the location of the promised sanctuary. I didn’t know for certain but given my luck since the beginning of this apocalypse that would be the sanctuary and it seemed to be very possible that we may not get in or that it had been overrun.
I fumbled my way back down the vent falling and twisting my ankle then knocking my head on the table. The blow wasn’t very hard however, with my recent lack of everything that would make me healthy and resilient I became dizzy and couldn’t get up right away. Parker was at my side immediately and I heard Marla asking what was happening, her voice getting higher with panic and fear. The RV swerved and I nearly hit my head again as she struggled to right the big vehicle. Marla was losing focus and I didn’t know if it had anything or everything to do with me being an idiot and falling through a hole in the roof. Parker pulled me up and I shook my head, ignoring the pain spreading up my leg and limped to Marla to tell her to turn as soon as possible.
“Which way!” Her panic increased and she gripped the wheel so tight her hands were turning white.
“Anyway you can, just stop going straight.” My own anxiety was brought on or perhaps augmented by the fear surrounding me.
Questions started coming from the others asking what the hell was happening, raising the anxiety level in the motorhome even higher. I could hear Marla’s breathing getting faster and louder putting her on the brink of hyperventilating. Ignoring all the chatter I went to her and very quietly told her to stop the RV and let me take over. Her fear was going to cause an accident. She did as I asked, easing off the gas enough to slow down but not come to a complete stop. It was just enough to allow her to move out of the driver’s seat and let me slid in. I scanned the highway desperate to find a way off the path to the mob of zombies. Parker came next to me having heard what I said and pointed to the right. About 2 miles away there was a split in the highway and as we approached a sign indicated the turn off to Bellingham.
I sped up as much as I could ignoring the thumps and bumps as the motorhome powered through the zombies. We hit a twisting road that took a downward trajectory for a couple of miles making it the perfect time to kill the engine and stop the noise that was drawing the creatures to us. As we coasted I checked the rear view mirror and saw the number of zombies decrease either from losing interest because of the lack of noise or because it was difficult for the mutilated monsters to keep up. While it was positive to be shaking them off the negative effect was that there were still many abandoned vehicles on the highway ahead and now I was the one navigating through the tangle of cars and trucks with a head still foggy from hitting the table on my clumsy descent through the roof.
“How many are still around us?” I needed to know, desperately wanting to stop as soon as safely possible.
“Looks like about a dozen, maybe less. They’re falling away, can’t keep up.” Heidi came forward as she answered my question.
“Do you think we can take them out if I stop?” I still wanted to end them.
“Yes. Stop and we’ll clear out the ones still trying for us.” Heidi was frightened but in control.
I eased off the gas meaning to slowly break but had to slam down as a pile up of 3 cars appeared out of nowhere ahead of us covering the entire length of the highway and blocking the way forward. Everyone fell forward including me and we were fortunate no one was hurt, just jostled about and bumped around. We didn’t have time to lick our wounds or recover. There were enough zombies around that they had to be dealt with lest their moans and shambling drew more out.
Cal was out the door and after Heidi shook off the jarring header she took into the wall, she was after him. Marla went to the kids, both sniffling and doing their best not to cry. I got up ignoring the renewed pain in my head and ankle along with the new ache in my wrist and headed toward the side door to help Cal and Heidi. Parker grabbed my shoulder and I saw that he didn’t want me to go and he sure as hell didn’t want to walk into a group of cannibalistic monsters and start killing. He had made it to me in the middle of nowhere through a zombie apocalypse but as I looked at him not showing any signs of releasing me, I realized for the first time – he hadn’t actually killed any of them this whole time. I had only a moment as that dawned on me before I had to get outside and help the others; I couldn’t dwell too heavily on what Parker was and wasn’t capable of doing.
I jumped out the door and surprisingly he did follow staying close at my heels. Cal and Heidi were struggling to kill the zombies without using their firearms. I didn’t have time to figure out how about a dozen zombies turned into what looked like 30. I had to help Cal and Heidi and keep them alive and unscathed.
© 2016, Denise Pasutti