Fall of the Risen – Week 22 – Clark
Two zombies were already down, courtesy of me and my hunting knife. The third lurched toward Murray, who was clutching my machete with a death grip. It seemed to vibrate in his hands.
When Murray hesitated I stepped in and downed the zombie before it could make Murray into its evening meal. It was the third time we had stopped to kill a few of the wandering dead, and the third time Murray couldn’t bring himself to kill one.
“They still look like people,” Murray said. “Mostly.”
“They aren’t,” I said, wiping the blade of my hunting knife on the closest zombie’s clothes. “And you can’t hesitate, not even for a heartbeat, because they won’t. They aren’t even capable of it. They’d kill you and feel nothing about it. No remorse, no guilt. They wouldn’t even remember that you were a living, screaming creature seconds after you’re gone. You’re meat. That’s all.”
The blood seemed to drain from Murray’s face, but he gave a nod before turning to head back to the truck.
I climbed behind the wheel and sat there for a moment before starting the engine.
“We’re almost there. I know a safe place nearby,” I said. “Maybe you should lay low there until I’m done with my business?”
Murray shook his head. “I’ll be all right. Promise.”
He wasn’t, but there was no talking him out of going through with it. I respected that.
For probably the tenth time, I rambled about what we could expect once we got there. It was wasted breath, really. I didn’t know what to expect besides zombies and bullets.
When the edge of Sisco was visible, I slowed the truck to a crawl. If I stayed far enough back the trees would cover us from being seen by whoever was in the tower.
“This is as close as I can get for now. You ready?”
He grabbed a set of steel ramps he had brought along with the schlepper and placed them at the end of the truck bed. After unstrapping the schlepper, he hopped into the tiny cockpit like he had done it a hundred times.
The schlepper inched down the ramps. A few times during the descent the front end of the pickup lifted an inch or two off the ground, but the schlepper eventually touched down on the ground. Murray gave me a thumbs up and I gave one back.
I had thought Murray was being overly cautious with the speed he went down the ramps, but as he headed toward Sisco’s gate I realized that was just how slow the schlepper moved.
I walked to the edge of the treeline and watched Murray’s progress. It was the only thing that moved slower than a zombie. I didn’t even think the guard would notice it’s approach. Just as that thought ran through my head a shout went up from the guard booth.
I expected to see Ferguson there, but it was one of Jansen’s other lackeys. He put his rifle to his shoulder and looked down the sight. My heart jumped into my throat. I didn’t think they’d be so quick to start shooting. Murray had no chance of getting out of the way!
The shot rang out and I expected the schlepper to stop moving, it’s driver dead. Instead, the bullet bounced off of the body and the schlepper continued to inch forward. Bullet after bullet hit various body panels and barely left a mark. No wonder the thing was so damn heavy.
The bullets stopped shortly after the idiot firing them realized they were having no effect. I could hear the muddy shouts of a conversation being called over a distance, and over the shouters’ panic. Couldn’t hear the words, but it was clear that they were pissing themselves.
Thunder crashed in the distance. Before I could wonder about rain, it was spitting.
After what seemed like an hour, the schlepper was in range of the gate. I hoped that the bullets wouldn’t start flying again, drew my machete, and ran toward the toward the fence.
I aimed for a spot to the left of the gate. I hoped they’d be too focused on Murray to notice my approach. I also hoped the zombies would be too distracted and riled up from all the shooting. Some of them had turned to look at the schlepper, but so far they weren’t that interested in it.
When I reached the edge of the horde surrounding Sisco, I took down the closest zombie with a swing of my machete. It wasn’t needed. Between Murray, the noise coming from Sisco, and the increasing rain, they weren’t looking at me. I made my way along the ring of dead, toward the gate and the schlepper.
Once I reached the schlepper, I located the steel cable on the front; right where Murray said it would be. The cable flowed out easily as I walked with it to the gate. That’s when the zombies began to notice me.
I took out the ones in front of me easily. They were still turned toward the gate. The ones that closed in from behind were the real problem. Progress was slow. Zombies kept tripping over the cable, which pulled stopped me for a second or two each time. I was only a few feet from the gate and couldn’t seem to close the distance. Then the cable stopped coming.
“Murray!” I yelled. “Move closer!”
A scream was all I got in return. The dead had finally noticed Murray through the small window in the schlepper and were climbing all over it. Murray didn’t seem in any real danger sitting in a bulletproof car, but that didn’t stop him from panicking.
I called his name over and over. The rain came down harder and harder. The zombies came stronger and stronger.
Shots began to ring out from Sisco. That was it. Any chance we had left was dashed. At least a bullet would be faster than being eaten to death.
Zombies began dropping all around me. Either the guard was a bad shot, or he wasn’t aiming for me. I took a chance and turned to look at the guard booth. He stood looking on, but had no gun in his hands. He looked as surprised as I was. I didn’t know where the shots were coming from, but I could guess who they were coming from. Jack and Dawn.
The zombies near me were all down, and the ones on the schlepper began to fall off with a bullet in each head. I trudged through the mud and corpses to the schlepper and pounded on the window. Murray looked at me through trembling fingers.
He nodded and moved forward.
Once the schlepper was close enough, I attached the cable and motioned for Murray to back up. Then I sprinted back toward the tree line.
Jack and Dawn had gotten their hands on some guns. Maybe they even rallied some of the other people who were tired of things they way they were. I couldn’t tell if that would make things better or worse. Didn’t really matter. I couldn’t do anything about it except what I already planned to do.
I hopped into the driver’s seat of the truck and started the engine just in time to see the schlepper peeling back one side of the gate like the top of a pudding cup.
I put the truck into gear and gunned the engine. It was time to take back Sisco.