Author’s note: This series is being written by my good friend SkullNboNes, who is also an author on this site, and myself.
“I don’t know how we ain’t met yet, come close too many times you ask me. I heard people say they were born for a reason, didn’t think the reason would be for this. They used to tell me ‘You better get right girl! God gonna punish you for your sins!’. Yeah they used to preach them words.” Chuckling lightly, Janet continues to speak in a hushed tone. “Sure did. Should I thank you for keeping me alive, or should I be angry at you for letting this happen?” Lighting a cigarette, she clicks the rustic zippo shut exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Questions and no answers, is that what the believers go by? All I hear is silence, and that’s not what I need right now, not what I need, not by a long shot.” Licking her chapped lips she glances at the shadows passing by a window.
Leaning back against a stained wall her hair rubs against red grease, her eyes float to the ceiling. Nothing resides in them, no emotion, no temporarily numb feelings, just vast emptiness swirling into voids made of dying pupils swimming in pools of milk. Moonlight pierces the window basking its glow onto her dirty face. Blood stains on her sunken cheeks and mouth, dried and hardened with divisions from where tears had slid through. Hovering her thin arm over a body laying in her lap, she twists the pistol letting the light reflect off of it. “Yeah they used to talk and point fingers, so did the others in town, all of em’. But where they at now huh? They probably the ones outside right now, shuffling among the rest of the damned. Judgement day came and didn’t matter who or what you worshipped, everyone paid the price. Lucky ones died, the rest of us survived. Yeah, some luck.”
Taking a long drag she presses her head against the wall. “All I have is this one bullet left. Should I do one of them, or do me? How desperate am I to meet you? Should I go out in glory, or should I take a cowards path?” Raising the gun to her head she pulls the trigger without blinking.
“Ha guess lady luck was with me on that one. How my odds looking huh? Are we gonna have a proper discussion tonight, maybe tomorrow? What’s it gonna be?” The tip of the barrel nestles inside her rats nest hair as her steady finger pulls the trigger once more.
“I’m liking the odds so far, am I playing myself or are you pulling the strings? I’m feeling adventurous, maybe one more try? How bout’ it God? You kept me alive for some reason, maybe we can talk it over in a few?”
Her finger begins to apply pressure to the trigger when a loud bang is heard. Janet flicks the cigarette and clings onto the body in her lap pulling it closer to her stomach. Her hand feels an icy stillness, the skin cold and firm under her calloused finger tips. She steadies the gun to the front door as it rattles and shakes under strain. The wood groans and sways with ripples spiraling down the center, a husky voice is heard from the opposite end.
The door breaks in half sending a storm of splinters onto the ground, an enormous man cautiously enters, his body bulked up with what looked like steroid abuse. He was larger than any man she had ever seen before. “Hello? Miss are you okay?” Noticing the gun in her hand he yells, “We’re here to help, don’t shoot please!”. The man throws his hands up, his bald head glistening with a gleam of sweat under the moonlight.
“Who the f**k are you?” Janet asks, steadily aiming the gun towards his head.
The man walks forward as her image comes to light from the shadows. A pale, sick looking woman clinging to a young girl greets him. The back of her head hollowed out forming a cave of broken bone and brain matter. Crusted chalk stains of blood on the woman’s lap with coagulated trails on the floor; she hasn’t moved since it happened.
“God have mercy..miss we just want to help you. Please, come with us, we’re not gonna hurt you. We heard a voice coming from your trailer and wanted to check for any survivors. But, we need to go now, it’s not safe out there. Probably drew attention by breaking your door down honestly.”
She lowers her arm down and begins to talk. “I can’t leave my baby, she was just a kid. Why is this happening?” She grabs the small corpse and begins to rock back and forth. “This is my daughter Pepper, she was gonna be somebody, somebody important in this world. How can I go without her..or forgive myself for taking the life I created?”
Kneeling down he replies, “Ma’am I’m truly sorry for your loss, I really am. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. But, if we don’t leave now, we will die. They’re on their way, I’m begging you, please, come with us. I promise we will come back and give your daughter a proper burial if you’d like. She doesn’t deserve to be left like this, no one does. Just come with us for now, we’re stronger in numbers.”
She looks up with soggy eyes. “Do you swear it? I can’t just leave her like this, if we can come back I’ll go with you. But you have to swear it.”
“I swear it on my heart.” The man crosses his fingers across his chest.
Looking down one last time, she touches her lips across the cold body and lays her down onto the tile floor. “I’m coming back for you baby.” Standing up she slides the pistol behind her back into her jean pants and begins to follow the stranger.
Heading out the front door a truck is parked out in the street. An older man with strangled gray and black hair in the passenger seat yells, “Hurry up, damn things are drawn to us like flies on s**t!”
Opening the creaky truck door, Janet jumps in the back. The large man hops in the drivers seat and turns the key. The headlights glow, wiping out a mass of darkness, in turn revealing a horde of people in front. People with decaying skin, exposed bone, and snarling mouths sniveling with blood and torn flesh grinding in their teeth. In a mesmerizing trance they all begin to stumble toward the vehicle.
“Reverse it Gunther!” the older man yells. He reaches down grabbing a shotgun and leans out he door frame aiming it to the crowd. It was slicked with what looked like oil but it was discolored. Leaning out he sprays a wall of bullets into the zombies as the truck peels backwards into the dirt blowing up clouds of dust and shattered leaves.
Fighting past the gun fire they walk towards the truck clawing and groaning. The man keeps his aim, bathing in blood as a few get close. Brain liquid and bone residue kiss his face. Gunther shoves his foot onto the gas pedal, a few bodies get pulled under from behind getting crushed underneath the tires. Turning sharply around they speed down the dirt road exiting the trailer park, hitting a few more bodies on the way. The old man drops the gun down on the floorboard and wipes his face off with a tattered oil rag.
“That was too close. A*****e tightened up so bad I might of left a hickey on this seat. Survived Nam’ just to almost die in a f*****g trailer park, you know how embarrassing that would of been to explain to Saint Peter?” He drops the rag and extends his hand, “Pardon the language ma’am, just a little heated. Name’s Willie, this gentle giant driving goes by Gunther.”
She extends her hand and shakes his. “Janet Moore. And don’t worry, you didn’t pick up a saint by any means.”
“Better chance of survival if there’s more of us. Been just us two for about a month. Damn things are multiplying like rabbits. Ain’t seen a clean soul before tonight, what’s your story kid?” Willie asks.
Janet puts her head down and caresses her leg pants, her jeans stiff with dried stains of innocent blood seeped into the material. Gunther looks over and gives Willie a stern head nod. “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pick old wounds, just trying to make small talk is all. Well so far we’re headed to nowhere, anywhere is better than back there though. Got half a tank of gas and limited supplies, you got any ideas of a place that hasn’t been r***d by this plague?”
Janet thinks in silence for a moment before replying, “Alston might be safe, small town about 30 minutes from here. I have a cousin there, might be alive.”
“Alston it is then.” Willy replies.
Driving down a crooked dirt road they pass a figure running from a crowd in a field, her chubby face wet with sweat, fear plainly exposed through her cries. “Please stop! Please!” she cries waving frantically at the truck.
Before waving, her hand was holding her swollen belly that sunk past her waist line, it wasn’t an overweight woman, her stomach was too round and smooth looking. She was carrying another being.
Gunther stares ahead, gritting his teeth with regret and pushes down on the gas. Janet turns around looking out the back window and yells, “Hey what the hell? Are you not gonna help her, she’s pregnant!”
Willie stares ahead tight lipped. Gunther replies, “We’re low on food and supplies, already stretching it out with you, can’t afford to add two bellies to feed. I’m sorry..” He wiped his eye with one arm and continued to drive.
Janet’s eyes droop as the woman trips landing face first onto the ground. The zombies clamor around her before Janet turns around pressing her body into the back seat. She slowly slides down sideways curling up her knees into a fetal position. The truck continues to travel through the desolate wasteland, in hopes of arriving to a newfound safety or possibly, even a place to call home.
Life is funny, she thinks to herself, just recently I was playing coin toss with my soul. Now, I’m questioning if I should of continued to press the trigger until I won.