Fall of the Risen – Week 31 – Clark
At first, I thought maybe I’d dreamed the sound of the tires screeching and the lurch of the van halting, except that I had dropped onto the floor of the van.
“What the hell?” I grumbled.
“There’s a tree in the road,” Jack said from the driver’s seat. He had taken over for Dawn, who was now in the passenger seat.
“A tree?” I asked, unable to see anything from the floor of the van.
“A big fucking tree.”
I pushed myself up on the seat and peered through the windshield at the biggest damn tree I had ever seen. It blocked the entire road. It could have blocked three roads from the look of the overhang on each side of the road.
We piled out of the van to get a closer look. Even on it’s side, the damn thing was almost as high as my shoulder.
“Anyone got any ideas?” I asked.
“Should have brought the schlepper,” Murray said.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“Too big to push out of the way,” Jack said. “We got any grenades?”
I smiled at Jack. “I thought you were supposed to be the rational one. Besides, in the current state of the world, grenades are an increasingly valuable asset. Shouldn’t waste them on something like a tree.”
“We don’t have any, do we?”
“We don’t have any.”
“Why don’t we just go around?” Dawn said. We looked at the sides of the road and the way the tree seemed to keep going forever, and then back at Dawn. “I meant turn around, find another way. A side road. Whatever.”
Jack and I looked at each other, exchanging non-committal shrugs.
“I was locked in tunnel vision for the last while,” Jack said. “I don’t know how far back the last turn was. Feels like a long time. Could be hours of extra driving.”
“Can’t be that much,” Dawn said. “Roads don’t go forever without turnoffs.”
“What if we just off road it, until we get to another road?” Jack asked.
Dawn tapped the side of the van the way a mother pats her overachieving kid on the head. “She’s built for protection, not all terrain.”
Everyone fell quiet and slowly their gazes all fell to me. Hell. I didn’t want to be the leader, but I guess I did lead them away from Sisco.
“Well… I reckon we should… backtrack. Nearest road can’t be that far. We’ll lose a bit of time, a little gas, but that’s what we’ll do.” I gave a nod the way I thought a confident leader would. Felt stupid as shit.
Everyone piled into the van, except for Murray, who pulled me aside.
“What is it, Murr?”
He looked at the van, then at his feet. “It’s been years since I drove a vehicle.”
“You drove the schlepper back at Sisco.”
“That doesn’t count, boy! I was hoping you’d let me drive. Just for a little while. I just want to feel the steering wheel in my hands, the gas pedal under my foot.”
“Didn’t know you were such a romantic, Murr. Sure, you can drive.” I slapped him on the back then climbed into the middle row.
Murray climbed into the driver’s seat and put his hands on the wheel. He ran his hands around the perimeter, practically caressing it. He started the engine and sat there with his eyes closed as he pressed the gas pedal a few times.
“Damn, Murr,” I said laughing. “You want to be alone?”
He didn’t respond. He only checked his mirrors, and that’s when I saw his entire body tense. I looked behind us and saw a small pack of zombies down the road walking toward us. There were only five. No big deal.
“Just run them down. She can take it,” I said.
But I was talking to a statue. His knuckles were white from his kung-fu grip on the steering wheel, and his eyes were wide and frozen on the rearview mirror.
“Okay,” I said. “Anyone else coming?”
Jack stepped out, as I knew he would, but right after him came Ferguson. He looked at me with a distinct lack of confidence. I gave him a friendly punch on the shoulder and said, “All right.”
We walked casually toward our undead opponents—they were still a distance away from the van. The closest two went down with a swing of my weapon, and one from Jack’s. The next two were just as smooth. I turned to find the fifth and saw it closing in on Ferguson. He looked scared, but he wasn’t backing away.
He raised his gun and cursed myself. Why hadn’t I noticed he left the van without a quieter weapon?
But he didn’t. He pulled the trigger and the last zombie fell with a hole in his head. The gunshot echoed through the trees on either side of us.
“What?” Ferguson asked.
“You know what? Probably nothing to worry about. Let’s just hit the road.”
Having spent most of his time in a security booth, Ferguson never had to worry about sound drawing in more zombies.
It only took a moment to walk back to the van, but the first zombie already showed up by then.
“Clark!” Ferguson said, pointing to it as it appeared from out of the trees.
“It’s okay,” I said. “I got him. Get in the van.”
I stepped forward and put my machete through its head, then I noticed the rest of the zombies. I couldn’t tell how many. Who knows how many more were on the way? Most of them were still a good distance away.
I struggled between standing my ground and getting into the van. My new vision, everything I had been working for, said to stay and fight until they were all dead. If it was only me and Jack, that’s probably what I would have done, but I had three others with me. Three people that were still terrified of zombies, three people that I took away from the safety of their homes, and three people that I really cared about.
I grimaced and got into the van.
“Let’s go, Murr,” I said.
But Murray was still frozen behind the wheel, his gaze now pointed out of the driver’s side window.
“More,” he said. “So many more.”