Read Ashton Memorial Online

Authors: Robert R. Best,Laura Best,Deedee Davies,Kody Boye

Tags: #Undead, #robert r best, #Horror, #zoo, #corpses, #ashton memorial, #Zombies, #Lang:en, #Memorial

Ashton Memorial (4 page)

She walked over to the
pump.
Please Insert Card Or Press Pay
Inside
, the display said. Angie realized
again she'd left her purse back at the hospital.

She cursed under her breath
and tapped on Park’s window. Park rolled it down.
“Yeah?”

“I need in the glove
compartment,” said Angie, shivering again.

“Keep a gun in there?” he
said, leaning forward to open the compartment. “We could use
that.”

“Yeah, I guess we could.
But no. I need the owner’s manual for the car.”

Park frowned, reaching in
and producing a battered booklet from the glove compartment. “I
used to work at a gas station, you know. Fixing cars and shit.” He
handed the book to her.

“Don't need that right now,
thanks.” She opened the book to the back. A credit card was hidden
between the back cover and the last page. She took out the card and
showed it to Park. “I keep this in here for
emergencies.”

“Like the end of the
world?” Park scratched his scruffy beard and looked at
her.

“Stop saying that.” Angie
closed the book and handed it back to Park. “It's not the end of
the world.”

“Seems like a pretty likely
candidate for it.”

“Just roll up the window.
It's cold and the kids don't have their jackets.”

Park shrugged and rolled up the window.
Angie turned to the pump, credit card in hand. She slid the card
into the slot and pulled it out.

Processing
, the display said. For a
long time.

Then it said,
DATA ERROR 332
.

Then,
Please Insert Card Or Press Pay Inside.

Angie frowned and slid the card in again.
She pulled it out and waited.

Processing
.

DATA ERROR
332
.

Please Insert Card Or
Press Pay Inside
.

“Dammit,” she whispered to
herself. She stepped to one side, trying to see inside the gas
station. It looked empty. All the lights were on, but it looked
empty.

She heard a car door open
and turned. Park climbed out of his seat and shut the door.
“Problem?” he said, adjusting the rifle on his shoulder.

“Card's not going through,”
Angie said, sighing and looking around.

Park frowned. “Let me try
it.” He held out his hand for the card.

“I said it wasn't working,
Park. I know how to use a gas pump.”

“No one's saying you don't.
I just want to fucking try it my fucking self.”

Angie sighed and gave him the card.

She turned as he started messing with the
pump. She took a few steps away from the car, looking around. The
lot was empty and quiet. The surrounding woods were quiet. The cold
breeze and the occasional car on the freeway were the only
sounds.

Was that a faint groan?

“Well fuck,” said Park.
“Phone line must be down.”

Angie turned, a little startled, and saw
Park step back from the pump.

“It's okay,” she said,
wrapping her arms around herself. She was suddenly anxious to get
back in the car. “We have enough gas to get to another one off the
freeway.”

“Don't be stupid,” said
Park, tapping the card against his other hand and looking around.
“I used to work at a gas station. There's a panel inside to turn
the pumps on.”

Angie stomped over to him
and snatched her credit card back. “I'm not stealing gas,
Park.”

Park snorted. “Well excuse
me, but we need the gas. And by this time tomorrow someone else
will have taken it anyway.”

“You're no better than
those fucking looters on my street!” she yelled.

“This is different and you
sure as fuck know it!”

“How?”

“No one's living in the
goddamned gas station, for one!”

They both stopped yelling and looked over at
the car. Dalton and Maylee were staring at them.

Angie turned back to Park
and whispered. “We're going.”

“Wait,” whispered Park.
“How much gas do we actually have?”

Angie sighed. “Under a
quarter of a tank.”

He snorted again. “Unless
you get great mileage, that's not enough to get us to the next gas
station on the freeway. And even if it was, how do we know it won't
be the same as this?”

Angie looked at him, then over at the kids.
She imagined them broken down on the freeway, corpses closing in
around the car. She imagined the corpses reaching through the
windows, their rotten and slimy arms grasping at Maylee and Dalton.
She could smell the blood as they bit into her children. She'd
smelled a lot of blood in the past twenty-four hours.

She blinked the image away
and looked back to Park. “Fine. For them. I'll let you steal the
gas for the kids.”

Park nodded, looking at the
car then at Angie. He shrugged and smirked. “You can tell the cops
I forced you.”

Angie smirked back. “You
bet your ass I will. Now go turn the gas on.” She leaned back
against the car to wait. “But be careful. It looks empty from here,
but you know how that goes.”

“Yeah.” He nodded, staring
at the station.

Park stared for a moment longer. The he
shrugged and started walking.

Angie watched him. For a moment his
footsteps were the only sound. Then another breeze rustled the dry
leaves still clinging to the surrounding trees. Angie looked
around. There never was much traffic on these country roads, but
still, where was everyone? How many had been lucky like Angie, her
kids and Park? How many had died? And Angie knew full well what
dying now meant.

Again, was that a faint moan?

Angie felt cold, colder than the wind would
account for.

A noise behind her sent fear up her spine.
She spun to see Dalton rolling down his window. She let her breath
out and bent down to his level.

“What is it, baby?” she
said.

“I have to pee,” said
Dalton.

“Me too,” said Maylee from
across the back seat.

Angie sighed. “Fine. Go
behind the car.”

“What?” said Maylee.
“There's a bathroom right there!” She pointed at the side of the
station.

“Maylee, I can't let you
guys out of my sight right now. Those things are everywhere. So
either go behind the car where I can see you or wait until we get
gas and I can go with you.”

Maylee scowled and sat back. Dalton squirmed
and looked at Angie.

“Mom?” he said.

“Yeah baby?” said Angie.
“What is it now?”

“I don't just have to
pee.”

“Gross!” said Maylee,
pulling away from Dalton.

Angie sighed. “You mean
number two?”

“Double gross!” said
Maylee.

Dalton nodded. “And I'll
need toilet paper to wipe.”

Maylee stuck her fingers in
her ears. “La la la la!”

Angie looked at the gas station. Park was
nearly to the door. It would be a few minutes to get the gas pump
going, then several after that to fill the tank. She looked back to
Dalton. Maylee removed her fingers from her ears.

“Bad?” asked
Angie.

Dalton nodded.

Maylee leaned forward to
look at Angie. “It's daylight now. We can see those things
coming.”

Angie sighed and looked at Dalton. He was
squirming and clutching his stomach.

“Fine,” she said. “But
hurry. And if you hear the slightest thing, even a bird, you get
the hell back here.”

Maylee nodded and undid her
belt. She opened her door and climbed out. She reached back inside
and pulled out her bat. “Damn,” she said, shutting the door. “It's
cold out here.”

“Just hurry,” said Angie,
looking back to the station. Park was opening the door. “Before
Dalton has an accident.”

“Double ultra-mega-gross.”
Maylee walked over to Dalton's door. Angie stepped to one side as
Dalton opened it and climbed out. Maylee took his hand.

“I don't need my hand
held!” said Dalton, snatching it away.

“Hold your sister's hand,
Dalton,” said Angie. “I can't have you guys getting
separated.”

Maylee held out her hand
and Dalton scowled at it. Then he grabbed hold. “I'll be sure to
use that hand to wipe, then let you hold it on the way
back.”

“Gross times infinity,”
said Maylee.

“Go, guys, now,” said
Angie. A raindrop hit her hand and she looked up at the clouds.
Another hit her cheek and she looked back to her kids. “Before I
change my mind.”

Maylee set off across the lot, pulling
Dalton with her. She had her bat in her other hand. Angie hoped she
wouldn't need it.

 

* * *

 

Park pushed open the glass door and stepped
inside. He looked around, letting the door swing shut behind
him.

The lights were on, one of the fluorescent
tubes giving off a slight flicker. Static blared from behind the
counter. Park guessed it came from a radio.

“Hello?” he said, just in
case.

Nothing.

He took a step farther inside and saw blood.
A pool of it, just outside one of the aisles. Red smears ran from
the pool, up the aisle and out of Park's sight.

“Fuck me sideways,” said
Park, sliding the rifle strap from his shoulder. He readied the
rifle and took a cautious step toward the blood. Static blared. The
flickering florescent tube was giving Park a headache.

He took another step and drew near to the
aisle. He looked back outside through the window. Angie was waiting
for the gas to turn on. Maylee was leading Dalton across the lot,
toward the side of the station. To the bathroom, Park figured.

Park turned back to the
blood. “You better just be blood,” he said. He drew in a breath,
cocked the rifle and rounded the corner.

The smears ran to a body. A young man, maybe
a teenager, was sprawled face down in the aisle. The blue vest on
the teen's back told Park he'd been working the counter. The large
shallow hole in the teen's head told Park he was dead.

“Shit, son,” said Park,
reshouldering the rifle. He stepped closer. The teen's head looked
chewed open. Park prodded the teen's leg with his foot. He hoped
the head was damaged deeply enough to keep him down.

“Well,” said Park down to
the teen. “I guess if you were gonna get up you would have done it
before we got here.”

The teen's body remained still. Static
blared and the light flickered.

“I'll be taking some gas
and turning your radio down, if that's okay.” He stared at the
teen, watching for any sign of movement. He wondered if he should
use a bullet to be sure.

“Okay then. Don't get up on
my account.” Park turned and walked out of the aisle, doing his
best to avoid stepping in any blood.

 

* * *

 

Maylee held tight to Dalton's hand, pulling
him along with her.

“Hurry, Maylee,” said
Dalton, hand on his stomach.

“I am,” said Maylee.
“Please, just don't shit your pants.”

“I'm telling Mom you
cussed.”

“I'll tell her you shit
your pants.”

“I didn't!” said
Dalton.

“You will, though. Any
second now.”

“Nuh-uh!”

“Hold it, then,” said
Maylee. She stopped as they reached the corner of the station. She
gripped the handle of her bat tightly with her free
hand.

“Hurry!” said Dalton. “I
have to go!”

“I know, Dalton, I know.
But we have to be careful.” She peered around the corner, looking
down the side wall where the bathroom was. “These things can be
anywhere.”

“But you told Mom we could
see them now.”

“We can't if they're hiding
in the trees.” She scanned the woods behind the gas station. She
saw nothing.

But was she sure?

After a moment, she turned
back to Dalton. “Okay, it’s clear. Come on.”

They hurried along the
side of the gas station. The bathroom was set midway along the
wall. The door was dirty and rusted.
Men
was printed on it. Next to the
printing were words scrawled with magic marker.
And Women. Other One's Busted
.

“Joy,” said Maylee. “Get in
there and hurry before I piss my pants.”

Dalton ran for the door and pushed it open.
She caught a glimpse of the toilet. It was filthy. Dalton stopped,
looking at it.

“Gross.”

“It's that or the woods,”
said Maylee. “Just hurry. And leave the door unlocked in case you
have to get out quick.”

Dalton scrunched up his nose and stepped
inside. The door shut with a squeak behind him.

Maylee leaned against the wall, just next to
the door. She could hear muffled sounds of Dalton going to the
bathroom.

“Gross beyond all space and
time,” she whispered, focusing on her surroundings. The raindrops
came more quickly now. Several pattered at her feet, disappearing
into the dry leaves and grass. She scanned the trees again. Still
nothing.

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