Fall of the Risen – Week 10 – Clark
I approached the inner gate of the overpass and peaked at Ferguson, who was on guard duty. He was lounging in his chair, studying a porn magazine. I signaled Dawn, who gave me the finger before climbing the stairs to Ferguson’s gated booth.
Ferguson stood in a hurry, the magazine disappearing behind his back. She began to speak and it was clear that all of his attention was on Dawn. I can’t say I liked the idea of him feasting his eyes on her for as long as we needed, but Dawn insisted on helping. Especially when she saw the bruises covering most of my body, compliments of the security goon squad.
She laughed more than I had ever seen her laugh, and made all kinds of gestures that I had only seen other women make. Strange as it was to see a woman like Dawn do it, she still did it well. I found myself wishing I was up in that booth instead of Ferguson.
Dawn leaned into Ferguson to speak into his ear and pushed the button for the inner gate.
“Let’s go people,” I said. Jack, Ramona, Wes, Daffodil and I scrambled to the top of the overpass, pulling wagons of materials behind us.
Jack had each sheet of metal and wood labelled. He had put the whole thing together in his garage, only tearing it down the previous night for transport. Jack directed the reassembly while the the rest of us grabbed pieces and put them where we were told to.
“Looks about right,” Jack said. “Everyone take some screws and a screwdriver.”
“Screws?” Ramona asked, fists on her hips. “Give me a good hammer and nails any day of the week.”
“Don’t you think that would attract a little attention?” Jack asked.
Ramona sulked, but took some screws and a screwdriver anyway.
When we were finished, I gave Dawn the signal. She stepped in close to Ferguson again and the outer gate began to open. The dead spilled in through the gate as soon as it was open wide enough for a single body.
“Oh, God,” Wes gasped.
“Keep ahold of yourself,” I said. “Stick to the plan. We take them down, you drag them out.”
Wes and Ramona moved behind Jack and me. I looked at Daffodil who smirked.
“I’d like to help with the killing, if you don’t mind,” he said.
Jack gripped his baseball bat and shrugged.
“We only brought weapons for ourselves,” I said.
“So did I.” Daffodil hiked up the skirt of his dress and pulled a pair of pipes he had tucked into his pantyhose. He pulled the pipes apart. They were joined by a thin, metal wire.
“Nunchucks?” Jack asked with disbelief.
“Not quite,” Daffodil said.
I held my machete in one hand, and my new hunting knife in the other. We were ready, but the horde of zombies was in no rush.
“Damn,” I said. “We should have built the funnel at that end.”
When the first one finally entered the funnel, I felt a pang of excitement. Those who doubted his plan, my resolution, were about to see I was right. Especially Marshall. He’d get an extra piece of humble pie.
The first zombie exited the funnel and lunged for me. I pushed the tip of my machete through the face and into the brain, then spun and tossed the corpse behind me. Ramona grabbed the zombie’s feet and dragged it until it rolled down the overpass.
The next one through fell with a crushed skull from Jack’s baseball bat. Wes reluctantly grabbed its feet and dragged it away.
Jack and I both stepped back and watched with interest as Daffodil waited for the next zombie to come through. It approached slowly, arms outstretched. He whipped one half of his strange weapon. The wire seemed to grow longer as the thrown half encircled the zombie’s neck twice. Daffodil gave a quick pull on the other half and the zombie’s head dropped onto the ground. The body dropped a second later.
“Damn! He’s some kind of ninja,” I said with a chuckle.
We continued on like that for some time. One of us would kill a zombie, step aside, and let the next guy make his kill. Wes and Ramona fell into a pattern as well, dragging and rolling.
“What the hell?” Ferguson called out. He had finally spotted us on the overpass and slammed a fist against against one of the buttons causing the inner gate to close behind us. The outer gate closed next, slower from all the bodies in the way.
“No,” I called out. “Keep the gates open!”
“Not a chance,” he called back.
“Clark! Get your head in the game.”
Jack and Daffodil were killing and throwing zombies aside much faster. The funnel was still doing its job, but it was full and the stream of zombies exiting was constant.
Daffodil was an artist with that odd weapon of his. He seemed to flow from one kill to the next. He was much closer to the zombies than anyone else, yet never seemed to be any kind of danger.
I jumped back into the rotation. Stab. Toss. Stab. Toss. They were coming faster and faster. Too fast. They were coming too fast.
Wes screamed behind me. I whipped around in time to see a zombie biting off a chunk of his arm. One of us had tossed a zombie that wasn’t completely dead.
I ran over and finished the zombie off with my knife and grabbed Wes.
“It bit me!” he yelled.
He tried to sit down, but I threw his arm around my shoulders and held on tight.
“Everyone to the inner gate! We’re done!”
I couldn’t run and carry Wes, but we still moved faster than the zombies. When we got to the inner gate, it didn’t open.
“Ferguson! Please. You gotta open this gate.”
I looked to Dawn, but she was outside of the booth now, on the other side of a closed door. Daffodil and Jack took out the few zombies getting close, but in another moment we’d be overrun.
“I screwed up, Ferguson, but these people shouldn’t die for it. Please!”
“Is he bit?” Ferguson pointed to Wes.
“Leave him. Leave him and I’ll open it.”
I nodded and lowered Wes to the ground. He didn’t seem to know what was going on anyway.
“Clark, you can’t,” Jack said.
“There,” I called out. “Now open the gate before we all get bit.”
The gate began to open. Ramona slipped through as soon as there was enough room. I waved Jack through next, and then Daffodil. I stepped into the opening and looked down at Wes.
I was wrong. He knew what was going on and he looked up at me with equal amounts anger, fear and grief. The gate had only parted a small amount, but it stopped and began to close again.
With a curse I reached down and grabbed Wes, pulling him through the gate just before it clanged shut.
My plan had failed. There were still hundreds of zombies outside our walls and now the overpass was full as well. Whether Wes had helped me out of a feeling of obligation or because he wanted to, I let him down the most. Most days it seemed like none of us had very long to live, but for Wes it was much, much shorter.
Jansen and the rest of his men appeared, staring with open mouths at the overpass. He looked down at me and my team, lying on the ground like a pile of failure. Wes clutched his bleeding arm.
Dave showed up next. I expected him to look at me with pure rage and tell me how stupid I was. Instead, I saw pity. He crouched down beside Wes and looked at the wound. Then he looked at me.
“Take him somewhere,” Dave said. “Sit with him until…you know. You owe him that much.”
The anger that was missing from his face was in his voice. It was quiet and measured, but it was there. There would be time later for him to let it out.
I took him to my house and we sat in my garage. I put on some music and opened a bottle of whiskey that I had been saving for a special occasion. Not an occasion like that, but like Dave said, I owed the guy.
I poured us both a glass and we sat.
“I can’t even say how sorry I am, Wes. Can I do anything?”
“Take my place.”
I sighed. That stung, but I deserved it.
“I wish I could. It should be me.” Did I really mean that? If someone could take the bite from Wes and give it to me, would I let it happen? I couldn’t tell.
“At least you didn’t let me die getting ripped to pieces. That was nice of you.”
“You don’t have to try and make me feel better.”
“Okay, fine.” He stopped to cough up a wad of blood. “You’re an asshole.”
I nodded. He was right.
He told me about where he had grown up, the story of his life and everything that happened before the world as we all knew it changed.
“Funny thing is,” he said, his words coming slower and his breathing become more labored. “Before the world ended, I can’t think of a single interesting thing that happened to me. It wasn’t until I was forced to fight for my life every day that I really started to live.”
The worst part about sitting with Wes, waiting for him to die, was wanting it to be over. It was a terrible thought to have. How could I want someone’s life to be over sooner than it was already going to happen? But I did.
He slumped in his chair more and more as the moments went by. The glass rolled off of his fingertips and shattered on the concrete floor. His breathing grew slower, and slower, then stopped.
I grabbed my knife, stood, and spoke to any deity that was willing to listen. “Next time, make sure it’s me.”
I planted my hunting knife in Wes’s skull before he come back to life. A part of me was convinced that it was better that way. Cleaner for the soul, or whatever is in most of us.
As I brought Wes’s body to be burned, I vowed not to let anyone else get killed because of me. I couldn’t handle having to sit with someone while they wait to die. Not again.