The boat shuddered with every wave I slammed in to. Metal locks and wooden seats clacked and groaned in protest. If this was my boat I'd probably care but since I'm sharing it with seven dead bodies I couldn't care less. I turned the boat outwards to the south and skirted along the western tip of some bundle of runways and hangars before turning back to the coastline. I gradually slowed the boat down and prepared to beach it. I mean, it's no use having a boat when there's no gas left and you'll be on land for the remainder of your life. The boat hit the waves hard sending harsh shudders through the entire boat before hitting something so hard I lost my grip and fell into the crusty dead body in the captain's chair behind me.
"Oh God oh God oh my fucking God." I stood up as fast as I could to get a hold of the wheel but it was too late. The boat hit the beach at 30 miles per hour and sent me forward into the wheel before collapsing down to the floor. The boat skidded up and onto the runway with the propeller spinning uselessly on the tarmac and sending shards out in all directions. I stood up in a haze, vaguely feeling a wetness on my back. Looking down at the corpse I say a massive indentation in the chest cavity and a thick syrupy goo oozing from multiple broken points of skin.
"Well, that's the end of this hoodie." I shed one of the few things I had left of the old world and gingerly stepped off the boat. Looking around I could only see the flaming terminal, the flaming city, and some flashing lights down the runway.
"Wait a minute..." Watching the pattern of lights grow closer and slightly farther apart I could tell it was a plane heading my way awfully fast. But who would fly a plane now? How did they find it let alone get it ready to fly? So many questions will just have to deal with being unanswered.
Now in all honesty I've always loved airplanes. Sleek and graceful, circling the globe at ridiculous speeds. I guess it's some sort of deep-seated fascination with giant metal monsters with screaming flaming engines. The plane was closing in. I could see it speeding ever closer to the end of the runway. Flaps up, gear down, it was going to take off whether or not fate would let it. I jogged over to the side of the runway that bordered the ocean and stood waiting. It might seem odd, especially in this situation, but I wanted to see it take off. It's painfully obvious that there wont be many planes taking off in the foreseeable future. Might as well watch while I can, Lord knows there wont be many more opportunities.
Finally the lights gingerly left the ground and the high whine of the jets met my ears. It grew progressively louder until I could identify the model and livery of the plane. It was indeed an A380 decorated in the sky blue Korean Air color. The plan came closer and closer at an alarming speed. When the plane was only a hundred yards away from me it began to tilt up just in time to miss the beached boat on the tarmac. Just as it looked like the plane would take off though the underbelly caught on the boat and sent visible shudders through the metal frame. A gust of wind from the fuming jet engines nearly sent me tumbling but with some clever footwork I managed to stay out of the mud. The plane then turned towards the terminal in the vain hope it could still take off
It careened towards the flaming terminal as the engines whined ever louder. I could see the nose to the plane climb ever so slightly followed by the rear landing gear lifting off the ground only to have the aft-left landing gear torn off by the edge of the flaming terminal. Then through the smoke I saw the plane dip to the left and disappear behind a low collection of buildings. I could've sworn I heard a low explosion and flames but that thought was dashed as the plane soared up and over a small copse of trees. The wings dipped and swerved as the ailerons flipped back and forth before the pilot finally regained control and began gaining altitude.
I stood there for what felt like hours. The small collection of lights grew smaller and smaller as they disappeared through the impenetrable black smoke. A loud honk zipped me back to reality. There was a massive truck heading right for me. Attached to its front was a large yellow snow plow and reflective tape. It began to slow and I could see Ed driving the massive beast with Toni in the middle and Mike sitting in the far passengers seat coddling some kind of radio. He pulled up next to me and Mike kicked his door open.
"Holy shit he survived," Mike said full of an acrimonious glee, "I owe you ten bucks Toni." Toni lightly smacked his head before throwing a long black assault rifle at me. It looked like some sort of sniper rifle from the more modern war movies. Sometimes I really wished I was more knowledgeable about guns. I stepped up into the truck and sat in between Toni and Mike. Needless to say it was a tight fit.
"Did you guys just see that plane over there?" I pointed a finger at the slowly shrinking collection of lights.
"Kinda hard to miss if you ask me." Mike sank back into his seat and looked out the window observing the scenery. We were passing a security checkpoint when I spoke up.
"Why don't you like being called Michael?" He glanced at me and sighed before slipping his hands between his legs.
"Well, that's what my parents called me. As you can imagine I hate my parents." Okay that's kind of sad. Who can hate their parents? Oh, well, yeah people can hate their parents. Plenty of people do. But they must've done something to deserve that.
"What on earth could they've done to warrant that?" Mike crossed his arms and sighed heavily before leaning on the window and staring at the passing environment. Toni put her hand on my shoulder and started to say something.
"Some things are better left undisturbed." At Toni's words Mike perked up and defended himself.
"No, no, it's perfectly fine, Toni. I guess it was inevitable I'd have to explain it," He took a deep breath and began. "My father, he was never really around. Always busy with that company of his. He never took the time to read what I wrote or look at what I drew, neither would my mom. She was always wallowing in a pit of whiskey. Too preoccupied with distracting herself from reality to see her son needed her. Of course they both dropped whatever they were doing when my sister accomplished something. When she win at the science fair, when her grades came in, when she took an unusually large shit, they never paid attention to me. I know for a fact she'd spread her legs for any guy who bumped into her on the street. My parents never knew but she brought in a different guy every week. Shit, it's a miracle she managed to make it through college without getting knocked up. But what really stuck into my side was the fact she was hired barely a month out by our father. Then she became the Head of Neurosciences or something ridiculous like that. I don't even think she went to college for that! But no, she'd fit right in with that damn company of his."
"Uh, sorry to interrupt but what company?" He glared at me with a burning anger. It wasn't directed at me, however, it was at his family.
"Amgen Bio-pharmaceuticals," He practically spat the name.
"Oh, well I don't know them." But they sound terrifying.
"No, you wouldn't. They aren't as much of a 'big and public' sort of company like Johnson & Johnson. They basically spend their time swimming in federal funds jerking each other off. All I hear of them is breakthroughs, net gains and bailout skirting, whatever that is. I remember on New Years they were babbling about regulations and ethical boundaries or some shit. I spoke to a psychologist not too long ago too, he told me everything I do stems from their ignorance of me. My enrollment, apartment, even my friends, all of it to spite my family." The cab was silent for a while before Ed finally spoke.
"Well, what happened to them?" Mike sighed again, maybe trying to let some of his anger flow out.
"Last I heard they were flying on their jet to some crappy Mediterranean island. They had time to wait for my sisters douche bag husband but not for me, no they didn't. Their plane was just about to take off when I sprinted to the runway being chased by the cops. I managed a glimpse at the window and..." He chocked a little sob, "They left me, they just left me. He looked me right in the eye and... left me."
Mike began to well up, probably about to start crying before taking a few deep breaths. Toni stretched her hand and patted his back a few times.
"See? Now that we talked about it, you feel better, yeah?" He let out a few more restricted sobs and nodded. The truck continued down side roads and through alleys for an hour before Ed spoke up again.
"I'm starvin'. Anyone else starvin'? We should have a giant dinner when we get back." I was pretty starved to be honest, it was barely noticeable but I heard my stomach grumble at the mention of food.
"Jesus, ranting about deep-seated mental abuse makes me hungry!" Mike shouted, all evidence of his previous emotions melted away to a face of contentedness. "Oh! Can we go to McDonald's?"
"If you keep your mouth shut then maybe, maybe, we'll get you a happy meal." Toni said in a stern yet distinctly cheery tone. Seemed like things were getting back to normal. The car ride continued on through street after street, industrial compounds turned into run-down tenements which gradually faded into row-houses and small shops. Partially obscured by an overgrown tree the obnoxiously colored sign for McDonald's came into view and Mike tried to keep up the jovial childlike persona. Probably some sort of coping mechanism. "Guys! Guys! There it is! McDonald's! Toni you said I could have a Happy Meal if I-"
"Holy shit will you quit it with the kid thing? Sometimes you get so damn carried away I think yer never gonna come out." Ed stated firmly. Mike gave another one of his I-admit-defeat sighs and slid back into his seat. I rested my head on the glass watching as block after block rolled past. Street names, business signs, and the occasional zombie or two were the only things of note. It's a real shame how things ended. I'd have thought we'd all die by some sort of meteor or atomic hellfire in some gleaming future that was just imperfect enough to allow itself to die off. But no, here we are in crappy old 2011 with a bunch of crappy zombies and some crappy disease. No more movies, no more shows, no more music. Until things get back to normal in about a hundred years or so. By then the zombies should've rotted away enough or society would be on the offensive, at least in my mind. Maybe we'd bounce back fast enough for me to see it. Maybe we'd never actually bounce back. Who knew? I sure as hell don't.
Something bright caught my eye as we drove past an elevated train station. I squinted a bit to get a better view but it disappeared as fast as it came. Not thinking much of it I closed my eyes and day-dreamed of a glorious future with flying cars and tall buildings and no zombies. Just as I started to nod off (which was pretty quickly for some reason) the truck swerved into a clogged bank of cars. Then a loud pop came from behind us. Followed by another pop and the sound of impacted metal. Another pop and a hole blasted through the back to the truck barely grazing my hair. I yelped and shoved my head between my knees as more bullets impacted the truck. Soon the shooting stopped and I dared to raise my head to look around.
Toni was ducking in a similar fashion but a small trickle of blood could be seen on her hands. Mike managed to dive under the console and took a breath of relief when the shooting stopped. I turned to Ed when he gave a loud yell of pain. His right upper arm looked like a crimson waterfall sourced from a large gash cutting away some flesh.
"Holy shit! We need to get out of here! We need to get that sniper! We need to do something!" I shouted. A snarl came from outside as three walkers besieged the truck. More bullets rained upon us from our unseen assailant, one catching a zombie in the neck spraying vertebrae and trachea on the car we collided with before it fell down. Mike grabbed Ed and shoved him down where he was before flipping it into reverse and driving us under the train tracks. He twisted the keys to idle and Toni pulled Ed out from under the console and made a makeshift tourniquet out of a bandana tied to the rear-view mirror which was coincidentally the same shade of red as Ed's blood.
We sat there, completely silent, for a whole minute before a shambler came up to the drivers side window and began pawing at us. Mike maneuvered over Toni and Ed and put it down before it could do much else. As he was rolling up the window a man, clearly in his twilight years and wearing a torn tuxedo, came down the stairs and fired at us. Bullet after bullet punctured the side of the truck and through the glass before the man reloaded. I heard footsteps quickly approaching and reflexes kicked in as I raised my pistol and fired at the man. A bullet flew by his head and another at his feet as he ran back behind a 1990's Toyota. Toni took the hint and fired at the man with her submachine gun as the man cursed in a raspy voice.
I kicked the passenger door open and stepped out shooting another walker as it stumbled forward. I crouched behind the rear wheel and fired a few shots at the man before he returned fire and caught the spot right under the tire. Toni fired again with her SMG and the man cried out in pain. No more shooting followed so I assumed it was safe and jumped out. Now ordinarily that would've gotten me killed but this time I got lucky and the man was really down. Toni jogged over to him and I followed, wary of a surprise.
I turned to see the man, he was much older than I previously thought, grab for something in his breast pocket. To my amazement and horror he pulled out a small green device with square indentations along its surface. I could tell a grenade when I saw one.
"You'll... never get me... you... communists." He let out a dry breath and the grenade rolled from his hands. Toni and I dove for cover but no explosion followed. I sat there behind a white delivery van awaiting shrapnel to impact everything and probably whiz through my head with a lucky shot. But eventually Toni's words put my fears to rest.
"Ha! The ol' fucker forgot to pull the pin! Ain't that a riot!" I gave a few humorless laughs out of kindness but my inner scavenger wanted to go see what the old man had up in his little hidey-hole. I took the first flight of stairs at Toni's protest but after a little whining and reminding her we're hungry she returned to the truck to get things in order. The man, as crazy as he might've been, had a pretty nice thing going up there though. He blew the tracks to make a small island, had the gates down, and even had a 3-car train sitting in the station. After rooting through the small hideout it was apparent the man attacked us hoping we had food. Well too bad for him we didn't have any.
I looked out at the horizon. A golden ball sat on the edge of the sky radiating all shades of red and yellow abruptly fading into blues and blacks near the top of the sky before becoming pitch black over to the east. Time was short, we need to get back before dark or else we'll be lost and more than likely run down somewhere and torn to shreds. A feeling or urgency ran through me as I jogged down the stairs and over to the truck. A small collection of bodies littered the area around the truck and more walkers appeared form the woodwork of local stores and began to shamble towards us. I kept a quick pace and slid back into my old seat next to Mike but this time Toni was driving. Ed sat in the middle mostly silent except for the occasional grunt.
Toni started the truck and drove onwards back to the depot. On the way we saw a downed helicopter, still flaming, a man who hung himself from a telephone pole long ago and was grotesquely stretched, and finally another mutie, this one looked like the one that attacked us in the sports shop but it was on the ground shaking. We didn't wait around much longer to find out what freakish powers this one had. Just as the sun disappeared behind the burning facade of Manhattan the depot came into sight. Mike hopped out, after gracelessly tripping over me, and opened one of the large sheet metal doors and the truck pulled in.
An hour later we were all in the break room. Ed had a proper bandage on his wound and Toni, who was grazed by the bullet on her scalp, was more or less forced to wear her bandages and to take it easy until we were entirely sure she wasn't concussed. We had a meager dinner of Pop-Tarts and scavenged water bottles. Before I finally drifted off to dreamland a refreshing breeze blew through an open window and reminded me of more peaceful times.
So that's it so far, expect another four or five chapters, maybe up to 25 in total, until the end of this chunk. Yes, there's more. 2/3's more to be relatively close. Also special thanks to A Drunken Canadian and one Night Carnival who reviewed! Once again sorry for the slow updates but I still can't find the switch to turn my creativity on.