Zomtropolis Chapter Forty-four
Telecom handheld transmission:
Jay and I headed out just after dawn. Normally, I’m not a morning person, but I hardly slept last night, too busy thinking that maybe–just maybe–I might actually start making some headway on this whole Selena-sometimes-a-zombie-sometimes-not thing.
I’m writing this on the handheld as Jay and I walk around my neighbourhood, keeping our eyes peeled for Selena–or, Selena number 29 or whatever. We figure that if she kept coming to see me, there’s no sense in going deep into the city to try and find her. If history is any guide, she’ll come to us. Eventually.
As Jay and I walked around, he did most of the talking. Too much time by myself has wreaked significant havoc on my socializing skills. I can maintain a conversation, sure, but I’d much rather listen. Besides, I don’t think I’d have all that much to contribute anyway.
When we first left the apartment, the streets were fairly empty of the undead. A few stragglers stumbled about here and there, almost all several blocks away, so there was no real threat. As long as we kept our distance and our voices down, we weren’t noticed. Until . . .
“See that?” Jay said.
“What?” I said and put the telecom away. (I’ll finish this later if something happens.)
He pointed down the street, past a row of zipcars that had managed to line themselves perpendicular to the way they were supposed to be, plugging up the entire road. I followed his fingers only to see a row of the undead on either side of the zipscars, moving toward us single-file.
We both looked at each other and said, “Run!”
We turned to bolt in the other direction; more undead were headed our way, this group stretched the width of the road and up onto the sidewalks on either side, creating a barricade of rotted flesh and decayed skin.
Buildings lined us on either side.
We were boxed in.
Jay patted himself down, searching his pockets. “Got nothing useful,” he said.
“Me neither.” Man, I wished I had my razor-coated baseball bat.
The zombies drew closer.
“Can’t stay here,” I said.
“You don’t have anything?”
“Why you looking at me?”
“Just curious. Take it easy.”
Jay patted his pockets again. “Got a lighter, a can-opener, and a pencil.”
Not exactly a threatening arsenal.
We slowly backed up, the undead in front of us closer than the ones behind.
I tugged at the bottom of my shirt, nervous. Then I had an idea. “Gimme your pencil and lighter.”
“Just do it!”
“Okay, okay.” He handed them both over.
“Ever hear of a Molotov cocktail?”
Jay merely grinned.
“Follow my lead.” I quickly jabbed the pencil through the bottom of my shirt, just to get a hole started, then dug in my fingers and ripped a nice fat ring of fabric off the base. “I need you to keep them busy.”
“I don’t know, but we need to get to those zipcars.”
I took off, running toward the cars and heading straight for the undead.
“Hey, wait!” Jay shouted behind me.
Thisiscrazythisiscrazy . . . I thought. Just keep moving. Don’t give them anything to grab onto. I weaved around the first zombie, shoved the second with my shoulder, then got up on the hood of a red zipcar before hopping down between it and another one. I scanned the sides of the vehicles, searching for its tank. A scraggily hag of a zombie with wrinkled skin and half her face missing started to squeeze in between the vehicles. I ran at her, kicked her down, then went back to the side of the vehicle. When I located the tank’s hatch, I flicked it open and shoved on end of the piece of torn shirt in there, getting it good and wet with fuel. A pair of undead came in from the other side, both with arms stretched just ready to grab me. All I could do was back away from them, step on the old lady I just sent to the ground, and use her as a boost to get onto the roof of the zipcar.
Jay was on the ground, a solid thirty feet away, doing jumping jacks and yelling, “Yo, over here! Hey, yeah, here, me! Come get it!”
Some of the undead took to his distraction; others stayed fixated on me.
I hopped to the next roof and then to another, getting some distance from the undead already climbing up on top of the cars. As fast as I could, I crouched low, sheltered my fuel-dipped shirt rag from the wind, and lit the gas-run lighter beneath the cloth. It quickly went aflame and I had to hold my arm out to prevent getting burned.
I should have asked him for that pencil, I thought. Crap. Could have used it as a miniature torch handle or something.
“Yeah!” He suddenly tailed it in high gear, getting away from the undead that had come right up to him. He dodged one and ran around another.
“I did this backwards. Need some help.” So should have just used my shirt as a wick or something.
“I said I need some help!” I jumped to the next roof. There, other undead were already in between the vehicles, their rotted hands reaching up to the zipcar’s roof, trying to grab my ankles.
Jay was still running, his legs a blur beneath him. He was nearly at the end of the row of cars. Some undead hobbled after him. Others, it seemed, realized that running wasn’t their strength so turned around and headed toward me instead.
“Idiot,” I said. The flame from the lit rag licked the inside of my wrist and forearm. I shouted from the sudden pain, dropped it, and was about to leave it when another idea hit me, one easier than the whole Molotov thing.
“You’re crazy,” I told myself, picked up the rag and hopped to the next roof. I jumped two more and finally landed on one where the undead would have to catch up.
I jumped to the ground, opened the zipcar door, got in and waited, hoping my backup plan wouldn’t kill me. It wasn’t long before a zombie with greenish-gray skin started to climb into the car with me. I immediately threw the flaming rag under him. At first, nothing happened and I thought he extinguished it, but a moment later his tattered clothes began to alight. Soon, he was a flaming body coming toward me, the inside of the vehicle suddenly hot. I backed up into the other door, opened it, and fell into the arms of a zombie waiting on the other side.
Where the heck was Jay?
The undead man grabbed me and held me in a tight bear hug. I spun on my heels and, shooting out my backside, was able to dump him onto his fiery friend. The two creatures cooked in the zip car. I grabbed the nearest zombie and threw him into the mix for good measure before getting the heck out of there.
Zombies swarmed the cars: some in between them, others on the roofs.
I just ran like the dickens, sprinting to the furthest building, now a safe zone thanks to all the zombies crowding the vehicles. I scanned the street for Jay.
The roar of flame rose on the air as the wind kicked the fire to a whole new level.
I turned a corner. “Jay! You down here? Jay!”
Gasping for breath, my stomach swam and twisted in knots. I had to stop so leaned up against a wall and bent my head between my legs.
“It’s okay, you’re safe,” I told myself. Where is Jay?
Catching my breath, I headed down the street, my throat dry and in desperate need of something to drink. A few zombies lumbered about, but none were close enough to be a threat just yet.
A hand touched my shoulder from behind. It wasn’t Jay’s.
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