Fall of the Risen – Week 1 – Clark
We were living like cattle, waiting to be turned into cheap burgers, hold the fries. Not that fast food exists anymore. It wasn’t any kind of life for a man.
I had a house, was relatively safe, and was even getting used to electricity again. There was a time when all of that sounded impossible. Most people still thought it was a dream.
For all we knew, we were all that was left and existed behind a stupid wall. Huge slabs of metal and concrete cutting off our view of the outside world. To be fair, the view was nothing but thousands of corpses that walked, and reached, and moaned, and bit. The bite, of course, was the end of anyone who received it. Anyone still alive had lost loved ones to that bite.
I checked my rearview mirror and saw the large group of bodies still shambling after me. A large group for any one man, but it was still only a small part of the mass surrounding our walls.
It was only habit that made me look and see if they were still following. I didn’t need to check. My nose told me they were there. It was a combination of sweet and bitter that burned the nose when breathed too deeply. Like a handful of pennies mixed with vomit. It was a smell that we lived with every damn day. Some people claimed they got used to it, but they were the same people that kept smiling no matter what happened. People don’t go nose-blind to a smell like that.
Exit 63. Only three miles out with another seven to go according to our self-appointed leader. To him, ten miles felt safe. To me, there was no distance far enough. Given enough time, they’d cross the country to paw at our walls again.
Jack Lynch rode shotgun with me. Normally I’d be complaining to him about how stupid these bait runs were, but he already knew and he was sick of hearing me bitch about it. The run always made me angry, but watching those bastards shuffle toward us had me seeing red.
Beyond their numbers advantage, they were almost helpless. Most of them were falling apart. Missing arm, femur snapped in half, foot missing. One of them was dragging entrails behind it, occasionally tripping over them. Another had a large hole where its stomach should have been. Anything—anyone—it ate would just fall onto the ground. These things weren’t terrifying. They were ridiculous.
Even travelling at five miles an hour, I braked hard enough to make the pickup truck’s tires give a squeak.
“What?” Jack said, looking behind and then swivelling to check both sides of the road. He pulled his shotgun from the floor of the truck to his lap. “What’s going on, Clark?”
“Why are we afraid of these things?” I said, nearly in a whisper. “Who put them at the top of the food chain? Why do we give them so much power? Why do we have to plan every moment of our lives around them?” I was yelling by the time I was done babbling questions.
“Talk later. Go now. They’re right behind us!”
A thump of flesh and exposed bone meeting tailgate echoed from behind us.
“Clark Ellers, move your ass!” Jack shouted.
I yanked on the gear shift and hit the gas. We were stationary for a second while the tires squealed and then we shot backwards. If I closed my eyes it would have sounded like a crate of watermelons smashing all over the truck.
Jack cursed at me, but couldn’t keep his voice from quivering.
I thought it would have taken a while to get clear, but I was accelerating unhindered after a handful of seconds. The horde was now in front of us, what was left of them.
Those to the sides were already moving toward the truck’s new position. The ones that had been in the middle were struggling to get to their feet—if they still had them—while the rest had become a collective pink and brown smear.
“You’re not done, are you?” Jack asked.
I wasn’t. I put the truck into drive and took out another section of the horde. I ping-ponged between reverse and drive until I couldn’t see anything moving.
“Yeah!” I shouted, jumping out of the truck. “Look at that shit! Look at it!” I pointed at the puddle of goo as I walked toward it, but stopped when the stench hit me like a truck hitting zombies. I didn’t think that smell could be worse. I was wrong. Even that smell couldn’t take the smile from my face.
Jack stepped out of the truck much slower.
“Explain,” he said. “Tell me why you did that and I might not punch you in the face.”
“Don’t you get it? These ones aren’t ever coming back. Not in a day, not in a week, not even in a year. They’ll never pound on our walls again. Ever.”
Jack’s face said he understood what I was saying, but still not why I had done it.
“This is what we should be doing. No more leading them away. Kill them. Burn them. Done. It’s all reward, no consequence.”
The truck engine sputtered. We turned and watched as the truck rocked back and forth with the engine making more and more racket until the noise—and the engine—died. Completely.
Under the hood was a combination of metal and guts, nearly in even amounts.
Jack looked under the hood and slapped me on the back. “Looks like you’re pushing.”