Blood Runs Black – Chapter 2
There are some things employee handbooks just do not cover. Number one on that list? What to do in case a zombie apocalypse happens on your shift. Good thing Alex is a quick learner…too bad the zombies are, too.
Sequel to “Say ‘No!’ to Zombies”.
I finally understand why Shelly cussed so much. When we were running from the bombs, she came up with words I had never heard of before. Today, I think I made up a few words of my own. I grew up around here, so I know we’re swamp central, but you don’t really think about it until you’re stuck having to navigate it on foot. It seemed like every time we turned around, we were having to backtrack. I was going to keep going, but B had herself a meltdown last time she stepped in some mud so I figured it might be a good idea to take a break. At least this house has food in it. We found a bottle of bleach, but it’s almost empty.
We actually stopped at one house first, but there were a couple pacers in the bedroom, and B went a little crazy with the baseball bat Shelly gave her. She made too much of a mess for us to stay there, so we took all the food we could carry and ran across the road to the house next door. Whoever lived here took their stuff with them. Well, some of it, anyway. We found cans of food and a twelve pack of beer in the fridge. B helped herself to both of them, and then passed out on the couch, so I guess I have first watch again. I just hope she wakes up in time to give me a break tonight.
Yeah, we haven’t reached town yet. The smell of smoke is really bad here. Before B got herself drunk, we wet a bunch of towels and put them under the doors and windows to try and keep the smell out, but it’s not working very well. It still stinks to high heaven. And now it smells like a brewery, thanks to B. I’ve never been much of a drinker, and I don’t plan on starting now. It just seems like a really bad idea to not be able to think clearly when there are things out there actively trying to eat you. Maybe it’s just me though.
I wish we could get ahold of wagons like Shelly had. I don’t know how much good it would do us, since there’s only two of us right now, and those things were heavy, but it would be good to have if when we find the others. I should’ve asked if we could take the shopping cart with us. They only grabbed the one, so I suppose the other one is still at the house they were at when the bombs fell. I haven’t made up my mind yet if it’s worth going out of our way to get it. It would be useful, no lie, but I’m not even sure where we are in relation to there at the moment. I lived north of town, and we’re south, so I’m out of my element here. I would ask B, since it involves her too, but she’s not really in a position to offer an opinion.
I might just lock the doors and sleep in one of the other rooms. I’m not going to stay up all night when we have so far to go tomorrow. Yeah, I think that’s what I’m gonna do. There’s no way she’s waking up tonight.
Never again. I told her that, too. If she gets drunk as a skunk again, I am not helping her. I had to drag her off of the couch this morning, tore the moldy parts off some bread I found and made her eat it and drink a couple glasses of water. She doesn’t like me today, but I don’t like her very much either, so it’s okay.
We made it to town. Barely, but we made it. We couldn’t get too close, it’s still burning, so we circled around the back and got lucky. There were tire tracks leading away from the city. A bunch of tire tracks. I’m not sure if they were there before, but I have to hope that it’s Lori and the others.
We followed them for a while. It was easy at first, the tracks went through a field, and with all the rain, they really stood out. They hit the road at one point though, and stayed on it, so it got a lot harder to follow. The first couple yards were obvious ‘cause of all the mud on the tires but then that ran out, and…I don’t know. We’re mostly going by guesswork now. I haven’t seen any tire tracks leading away from the road we’re on, but there are so many roads it connects to, so for all I know, we could be going the wrong way. I don’t think we are though. So far, at every intersection, there’s been a splash of white paint. I thought it was old at first, but B’s been stopping to throw up every couple minutes, and she stepped on one of the splashes of paint, and when she walked away, she left white footprints. The paint has to be at least somewhat fresh. I just hope we find them before they run out.
B is passed out again. She sweated out a lot of the alcohol today, but she still looks like death warmed over. I’m locking myself in a room again. I’m not playing. If she gets drunk again, I’m not stopping for her. This isn’t the life I want, but this is the life I have. I’m not going to risk it for someone who doesn’t have enough sense to stay out of the bottle.
Seven people made it. Seven out of TWENTY.
If Joe wasn’t already dead, I would kill him myself. When I left, there were about twenty people, counting me. Now, there’s Jo, her husband, their daughter, Lori, Kyle, Ryan, and Aj.
When the bombs started falling, Joe tried telling them that the coolers were designed to hold up against tornadoes, and they’d all be safe if they hunkered down in there. Jo’s husband, James, worked construction, and he called BS on that one. He told Jo to get their daughter and head for the garage. Lori and Kyle tried convincing the others to leave with them, but they were in panic mode and wouldn’t listen. So Lori said “screw it” and grabbed a couple cans of paint on her way to the garage.
Joe followed them out to where the cars are, even tried stopping them by standing in front of the trucks. Lori said the pickup was the first one out of the garage, and Ryan never took his foot off of the gas. She didn’t say whether Joe got out of the way or made a nice thump thump sound as they drove over him, but either way, he’s gone.
We’re in the same house we were in last night. When we found the others, they were on the other side of the railroad tracks outside of town. Tammy took the tracks too hard or something, and busted a tire, so they were trying to move everything from her Tahoe into mine. In the pouring rain.
B and I helped move the stuff, and we all fell back to the house to start going through everything. We’re supposed to be making plans after we eat. Jo and Ryan are making dinner. It smells like spaghetti.
Sorry, dinner was ready.
I told the others about the farm Shelly mentioned, and the warnings about the towns and main roads. Jo and Ryan think the farm is the best bet. The only problem is how far away it is. Without the roads, we’re looking at a long walk. Kyle said it might be just as well to find a place to start our own settlement, but with only nine of us…I don’t think we’d get very far. Plus, none of us know anything about growing food, so that idea has been tabled for the time being.
Right now, the plan is to take the cars as far as we can and then continue by foot. Tomorrow night, we start deciding on teams. Who is going to be scouting, cooking, etc. They found a wheelbarrow somewhere along the way and tossed it in the pickup, but that’s not going to be enough. Not with all the stuff we have. We have a bunch of tents, food, camping supplies, etc, and not a lot of people to carry it, or bags to carry it in.
The one thing we forgot when we were packing. We found a couple suitcases in the attic here, but that’s not going to be enough. We’re just going to have to keep our eyes open. We might have an extended layover at the next place so we can raid the neighborhood for supplies. We have a lot of food, so that isn’t an issue, but water is a problem, and again. Not a lot of people.
About the bombing: as far as Kyle and them can tell, the military started at the edges of town and moved towards the center. He thinks they were trying to drive the pacers towards the center so they could wipe them out all at once. He’s pissed though. He said, by bombing the outside of town first, it also cut off escape routes for anybody still in town. The only reason they were able to get out in one piece was cause the back of the store leads out to a field, and they just cut across it. They went back the day after to see if, miracle of miracles, Joe was actually right about the store being safe, but they couldn’t get close enough to see anything. There was too much smoke, and the flames were still going strong.
I think that answered their question, personally.
Kyle found out about B drinking and reamed her a new one, so now she’s pissed at me. She accused me of saying something, but honestly? It’s kinda hard to miss. She stank. She smelled like she took a bath in beer and vomit, and Kyle told her that, which really didn’t go over well. Lori stepped in, took B to the side with Jo. I guess they went to clean her up. She came back in different clothes and smelling like some kind of froofy vanilla stuff.
We have rules now. Number one is being quiet. No yelling, screaming, fighting, throwing stuff around. Number two is no drinking or doing any kind of drugs that might make us less observant/intelligent/etc. Number three is watch each others’ back. We’re in this together. We have to have each others’ back, or we’re not gonna get very far. Number four is the biggest one besides being quiet: report any pacer blood, immediately.
Something I didn’t get to tell Scott before we left…he knew we were keeping to the back of the store, but he didn’t know the reason why. Joe told him it was cause it was where the bathrooms are, and yeah, that was part of it, but that wasn’t the main reason. We were all spread out through the store. We each kinda had our own section. Then Beck noticed that the spot where the pacer’s bodies had been didn’t look right. Blood dries in a reddish brown color, okay? Pacer blood is black. The places where their bodies had been was, like…sandy? It was like the blood had ate through the flooring. Then he noticed black blotches on the shelves where the blood had splattered.
Let me explain something, okay? We, Lori, Jo and I, we’re not stupid. After we decided it was safe to come out of the garages, the first thing we did was clean up. We broke out the medical type gloves and hefty bags and wrapped the bodies up, and dumped them outside. We scoured the floor with bleach. We threw out all the products on the shelves that had any type of blood – pacer or human – and then cleaned the shelves with bleach too. We used paper towels, and we didn’t just throw that stuff away, we burned it out back. We cleaned the hell out of the store. When we were done, there was no trace of the pacers or their blood, and believe me, we double checked everything. So where did those blotches come from?
At first, we thought, oh, maybe it’s mold. It rained almost non-stop the first two weeks, so it was a stretch, but still plausible. We just shrugged it off, told Beck to bleach it again and went on with what we were doing. Two days later, it was back, and Beck was changing. Cam told us, after Beck was already throwing up blood, that he had helped Beck clean the blotches. He swore that both of them had worn gloves when they were cleaning up, but when they were done, and the gloves were off, Beck saw a speck they had missed or something, and used his thumbnail to scrape it off. He didn’t know if Beck had washed his hands after that. He hadn’t really thought about it. It was just mold, you know? Besides, he said, he did the same thing the very next day. Beck turned that night.
Three days later, it was Cam’s turn. We stopped trying to clean up and just stayed the hell away from those areas. That was another part of why Lori and I had wanted to leave. The blotches just kept getting bigger, eventually it would’ve taken over the store. It just didn’t make sense to stay. Joe couldn’t see that though. And now there are people dead because of him. Is it wrong to hope he burns in Hell for this? Asking for a friend…
The sun is barely up. We’re getting ready to leave. Jo said she knows where we’re at. Her daughter used to take riding lessons at a farm near here. She thinks they’ll have a wagon we can use. Or at least another wheelbarrow. We’re going to swing by there and see what we can get. If the horses are okay, we might take them with us. It would limit us with how much we can carry, but we would also be able to travel further during the day, and we wouldn’t have to worry about gas or crowded roads. It’s a big “if” though.
We’re definitely stopping at the next neighborhood we find to do some quick raiding for backpacks. It doesn’t matter, at this point, if we have the horses or not. We’re still going to need something to carry supplies.
We got to the farm, and the stables were empty. We’re not sure how many the owners had, but we found a couple of the horses roaming the land. Not enough for all of us to ride single, so that’s out. They had a wagon, but none of us know how to hitch the horses to it, and what’s the difference between that and the cars, anyway? Well, besides that they don’t take gas. Yeah, we could get further (maybe) with the wagon because it doesn’t use gas, but if a wheel broke, where would we be? Plus, the wagon was open topped. That means, if we got overran by pacers, we’d be done for. At least in the car, there’s some protection. The pacers can’t get through the glass and metal.
So yeah, all in all, the farm was a bust. We found a few backpacks, but most of what was there was just more camping supplies – tents, sleeping bags, etc. Things we don’t really need. We have plenty of supplies, we need something to carry them in, damn it.
Sorry, just getting frustrated. I should be happy. My friends are all here, and yeah, it sucks that not everyone made it out, but at least some of us did. But it’s hard to be happy when it seems like one road block after another.
And I mean that literally. There is one road block after another. We’re still in the cars, and the roads are all either deserted or jam packed. We keep having to try and go around all the cars and stuff blocking up the road, and it’s…well, it’s not fun. Which is a stupid thing to grumble about, all things considered, but. It’s annoying.
We’re going so slow, James and Ryan are getting out and raiding the houses for backpacks, coming back just to toss them into the cars and go back out again. It’s been three hours, and I think we’ve gone maybe five miles? Lori’s in the back of the pick up and whenever James or Ryan tosses her a backpack, she’s shoving as much in them as she can fit. I actually had to remind her that they might be too heavy for us to carry, so she’s had to repack a few. I’m not sure if Jo is having the same problem. She’s in my Tahoe with B and Marissa.
I’m not happy with that, either. We’re all taking turns driving, well, not Marissa, cause she’s only thirteen, but the rest of us are. I don’t mind Jo driving my car, I’ve known her for a while, but I’m not sure about B. Nothing against her, I just don’t know her, you know? I would be driving it myself, but the pickup is a stick, and Kyle and I are the only ones who know how to drive it. It wouldn’t be fair to make him do all of the driving, especially with how much of a pain these things are. There’s a reason I went for an automatic. Just sayin’.
We’ve stopped for now. We’re in the middle of a deserted road. It seemed like as good of a place to stop as any. Kyle keeps picking up on a weird radio station. He’s scanning through the AM frequencies, and every once in a while, we’ll hear what sounds like a person just rambling about nonsense. Well, not nonsense, but it’s really random? One time they were talking about crops, then they were talking about someone being almost ready to pop any day now. It was a man earlier, now it’s a woman. She’s reading…Huck Finn? I think? It sounds like Mark Twain, but I’m not sure if it’s Huck or Tom Sawyer. Wait, it’s Huck. She just said she’s tired of reading it, and ah hell. She’s going to read that stupid fifty shades book. “Cause it’s not like anyone’s listening anyway.”
Ma’am, I’m listening, and I don’t want to be. Please don’t…Please?
She’s still reading. Kyle keeps turning the radio off and on every hour. It’s almost sun down. She’s still reading. Shoot me now.
We’ve been saved. Someone else took over the radio station. He sounds just as traumatized as Kyle and I. God, that was torture. The station is coming in stronger. We must be getting close to whoever is broadcasting.
Sorry, we stopped again. Jo and Kyle are arguing. I’m out of this one.
The people broadcasting spotted us. Kinda. They must have lookouts or something. The man on the radio was in the middle of chewing out the woman who was reading fifty shades some more, then he stopped. When he started talking again, he was talking to us. Or at least, that’s the best we can figure. He said people had been spotted, and if we needed a place to stay, we should follow so-and-so road. He was talking too fast, I’m not sure I heard the name right, but Kyle understood him.
The man said they’re an open community, as long as no one has any bite marks, or is showing signs of turning, they’re welcome. All they ask is for some help. Manual labor, basically. They have crops growing that need tending, they have animals to feed, and they’re trying to wall off the land. They don’t have a doctor, but if anyone is injured, they can try to help, and at the very least, they have a place for us to rest. They keep repeating anyone is welcome.
Jo doesn’t trust it. It could be anyone, and for all we know, they’re trying to lure people in for…other reasons. She has her daughter to look after. Ryan’s on the fence about it as well. He has his son, but…he has his son. This is one of those things that can go either way. It could be a good place to stop, really assess our options, maybe skip on Shelly’s farm completely. It would be a lot better than having to try and reach a place we’re not even sure of. But it also means taking a chance on a place we’re not sure of. Can’t win for losing, it seems like.
Kyle’s of the opinion that these people wouldn’t be broadcasting if they weren’t desperate. He thinks their offer is genuine, and we should check it out. He said that broadcasting the way they are, they run the risk of attracting the wrong kind of attention, so why would they do it unless they were telling the truth? Which is a fair point, but Jo’s right, too. What if they’re relying on people to make that assumption? They could use that broadcast as bait for the desperate and/or gullible.
So. Now they’re arguing. Quietly. In the middle of the road. Pitch black. Well, not pitch, but very dark. We have the headlights on, but with the street lights out, they’re not doing much good.
We’re sleeping in the cars tonight. It’s cramped as all get out, but it’s better than risking the tents. I’m thinking we should probably toss the tents completely, but none of us want to risk being caught without one.
Almost eleven, and they’re still arguing. Now James and Ryan are in it. I’m out. One of us has to get some sleep tonight.