Read Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1) Online

Authors: Jay Brenham

Tags: #Zombies

Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1) (6 page)

BOOK: Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)
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“Matt, help me get him to his feet.” Matt gripped the clown by the elbow and armpit and lifted. Now that the dark clown wasn’t a threat, Matt nudged the classroom door open and nodded to Jenna.

“You can come out now.”

“Everything okay?” she asked, eyes wide.

“I think so.”

Behind him, Matt heard Taylor’s voice. “Talk quietly or you’re going to wake that baby up and attract infected to our location.””

“No problem, man. I’ll shut up. Just don’t send me back out there or Tase me again.”

They walked to another classroom, one without a broken window. This classroom had windows covered with a tinted film so that anyone outside couldn’t see inside the classroom. Matt immediately felt safer.

He leaned against a wall and let out a breath. Finally, it seemed they would get some time to gather themselves.

The probes from the Taser were still stuck in the dark clown’s back. The wires hung loosely, connecting to the Taser that sat in the holster on Taylor’s belt.

“Are you going to cooperate with us? If you are, I can pull those probes out of your back and take the cuffs off,” Taylor said.

“I told you, I just want someplace safe. I won’t cause no trouble,” the clown said.

“What’s your name?”

“Eric.”

“Okay Eric, lay flat on your stomach and I’ll pull the probes out.”

Eric got to his knees and Matt grabbed his shoulder and helped guide him to the floor.

“Hold still,” Taylor said, flattening Eric’s shirt and holding the skin taut with one hand. “This is going to pinch a little but it’s nothing I haven’t had done to me.” With his other hand he grabbed the base of a probe and yanked. The probes came out easily. Taylor did the same with the second probe. Then he pulled a handcuff key from his shirt pocket and unlocked Eric’s handcuffs.

“Can I get my knives back?” Eric asked.

“Nope. I don’t know you and I don’t want you to have a weapon around me.”

“It’s because of what I’m wearing, isn’t it? If I didn’t have this makeup on, you wouldn’t have a problem with me having knives.”

Taylor shrugged unapologetically. “You’re probably right, Eric. But what do you want me to do about it? I don’t trust you. I’m not giving you a knife just to somehow prove that I’m not biased.”

“This might seem like kind of a pointless question, but why
are
you wearing that makeup?” Matt asked.

“A whole bunch of us were going to convoy to the Gathering.”

“The Gathering? What’s that? Some sort of religious thing?” Matt glanced at Jenna. She looked as confused as he did. Taylor just looked amused.

“Come on, are you serious? The annual gathering of the Juggalos?”

“What’s a Juggalo?”

“He’s a Juggalo,” Taylor said. “They put on clown makeup, act like assholes, listen to bullshit music, and drink Faygo, that generic fucking soda.” Taylor pointed to the bottle he’d taken from Eric’s pocket.

“Oh come on, man. You probably buy into that Juggalos-are-a-gang bullshit. But most of us just like to dress up in our stuff, listen to Insane Clown Posse, and have fun.”

Taylor crossed his arms. “I don’t really care why you dress up in that crap. All I know is Juggalos are always doing something stupid when I find them and they always have knives whenever I search them. You don’t seem dangerous or unstable to me, Eric, but a lot of your buddies do.”

Eric turned his head away, clearly annoyed at Taylor.

“You said a whole bunch of you were going to the Gathering,” Matt said, to Eric’s back. “How many of you were going and where is the Gathering?” Matt didn’t care about the makeup or what a Juggalo was. He just wanted to get to safety and if some guy with a creepy black smile painted on his face had a bunch of friends who were getting ready to leave, then the more the merrier.

“I dunno how many, man. We had a bunch of cars full of people. Vans, SUVs, and a couple of little crappy commuter cars. My girlfriend had one of those commuter cars,” Eric said.

“How’d you get left behind?” Matt asked.

“I fucking didn’t,” Eric said, his voice breaking. “I escaped.”

Matt looked at Taylor, who seemed concerned. It was obvious Eric was more willing to talk to Matt than a police officer, so Matt continued the conversation.

“Where are the rest of your friends? Holed up somewhere waiting for help?” Matt asked.

“Holed up? Fuck no,” Eric spat. “A group of us were down by the waterfront just messing around. Watching people’s reactions to our clothes and face paint. Just stupid shit, you know? This guy came out of that hotel right on the corner, the nice one with the outdoor fire pits. Anyway, this guy looked like he was in bad shape. He was holding his hands over his mouth and coughing up blood and snot all over the ground. Whenever he coughed, the blood from his mouth actually came up through his nose. He looked
awful
. I’ve never seen someone look that bad. Then my buddy Big Mike and his girl, Sugar Bear, go to help him and the dude coughs right in Sugar Bear’s face. I’m not talking a little cough either. Fucking blood was all over her face, eyes, fucking
everywhere
. So Big Mike pushed him away and we went into the hotel so Sugar Bear could wash that shit off.”

“Then what? Did you go to the hospital?” said Matt.

“Nah, we went back to Big Mike’s house. What was the hospital gonna do for her anyway? If the guy had AIDS or hepatitis, Sugar Bear already had that shit inside her. She was either fucked or she wasn’t,” Eric said.

“Actually she wasn’t,” Taylor said. “There’’s a post-exposure treatment for viruses like hepatitis and HIV.”

“Well, as I’m sure you can
tell
, this wasn’t no hepatitis, Mr. Police Man,” Eric said sarcastically.

Matt waved his hand at Taylor, motioning for him to back off. “What happened back at the house?”

“Sugar Bear was crying so hard she couldn’t stand. My girl Sierra went to see how she was doing. Sometimes girls can help other girls calm down, you know? But Sugar Bear was losing it. Finally after about an hour Sugar Bear started to calm down and laid on the couch but a little bit later she fucking flipped. She just went crazy and started attacking everybody with anything she could find. We tried to subdue her without hurting her but she cut her face on the side of the table when we were wrestling her to the ground. Blood went everywhere and Sugar Bear still wouldn’t stop fighting.” Eric’s voice dropped and he shifted in his seat. “She got loose and bit Sierra. Fucking bit a pregnant girl! That’s how I knew she’d really lost it. I don’t know how many of us she bled on or bit, but it was a lot of us. But none of us wanted to hurt her. We’re like family, we care about each other.”

At the mention of Sugar Bear bleeding on everyone, Taylor sat a little straighter. “Did Sugar Bear hurt you?” Matt asked carefully.

“Nah, I was trying to restrain her with Big Mike but she got away and bit Sierra. I was lucky. I tended to Sierra while a couple of people went after Sugar Bear. They had to use rope and duct tape—tied her down like she was an animal. We’d been planning to leave for the Gathering but we put that on hold. Everyone stayed except for one van full of people we didn’t know very well.”

“Did any of them get bit?” Taylor asked.

“Yeah one guy got it real bad.”

“Where did you say the Gathering was?”

“Ohio.”

“What color was the van?”

“It was white, why?”

“Because that guy who got bit was infected and now he’s going to spread the infection North,” Taylor said. “They need to be stopped before they get too far.”

“Dude, where the fuck have you been?” said Eric. He turned to face them fully, his expression incredulous under his crazy makeup. “This shit is happening all over the country. Riots fucking everywhere, man. I heard it on TV before I escaped.”

Jenna pressed her hand to her mouth and Taylor swore. The idea that the entire country was facing the same thing as Virginia Beach was difficult to comprehend. Virginia Beach had a fairly small population when compared to a place like New York City. The people there were more densely packed. If it could spread quickly in Virgina Beach, it would be unstoppable in a city with a larger population.

“So what happened? You never finished,” Matt said, finally breaking the silence.

Eric took a deep breath. “We restrained Sugar Bear and put her in her room. She doesn’t have any health insurance and we knew she wouldn’t want us taking her to the hospital. I know this guy who went to the emergency room—they didn’t even do anything for him and the bill was almost five thousand dollars. Sugar Bear works at one of those little coffee stands. A five thousand dollar bill would take her years to pay back. Anyway, all of our friends came inside and sat down. Everyone was either cleaning their wounds or helping someone else. I was in the bathroom cleaning up when they started going ape shit in the living room. I cracked the door open so I could see out. My friends were attacking each other and Sierra...” Eric trailed off.

“What about her?” Matt’s voice was quiet.

Eric started crying.
Sobbing
, actually. “I looked out and she...she...she was stabbing Dave in the stomach with a pair of scissors while Big Mike held him down. She was so into it, so intense. I knew there was something wrong with her.” Eric made a choking noise but he got control of himself and continued. “I locked the bathroom door and jumped out the window. I hid inside a dumpster for a while and when I finally got out I saw you guys. I could tell you weren’t infected and I saw that one of you was a cop. I thought I might have a chance.”

“Maybe this virus will pass like any other,” Jenna said gently. “In a couple of days it will burn itself out and Sierra might be okay and you can still have a family together.””

“Yeah.” Eric looked at his hands. “Maybe.”

It was a nice thing for Jenna to say, Matt thought, and maybe it was in her nature to be nurturing and hopeful—she did work in the maternity wing, after all. But they all knew she was feeding Eric false hope. This virus had a feeling of permanence to it.

Matt looked away, ashamed that they’d judged this kid based on his appearance when they all wanted the same thing: to survive when the world was falling apart around them. Eric had been through a lot. Matt couldn’t imagine the pain he must be experiencing, having watched his pregnant girlfriend change with the infection.

Taylor’s expression was sympathetic, though Matt noticed he made no move to give Eric his weapons back. To Taylor, Eric wasn’t trustworthy until he’d proven himself. Giving him a knife wasn’t even a question.

Jenna broke the silence. “Matt, you have a cut on your arm! Why didn’t you say anything?”

He shrugged. “There’s not much that can be done about it. It’s not like we have medical supplies.”

Jenna smiled. “Actually, we do. I threw some stuff in the bag with the formula and diapers.” She handed the baby to Taylor and motioned for Matt to sit next to her. “How’’d you cut it?”

“I snagged it on a piece of glass when I climbed through the window.”

She pulled out a small surgical kit from the bag and some irrigating solution to help clean the wound. She took his arm and examined it. “This will probably sting a little.”

She was right. The solution definitely stung and Matt winced from the pain, trying to do his best to act like it didn’t hurt. Jenna tried to hide a smile.

“Now for the bad part.” She took a needle and held it tightly between a set of forceps.

The stitching hurt, though Matt thought it was preferable to whatever she’d cleaned the wound with. Jenna pulled out a bandage and placed it over the stitches, then wrapped his arm with a gauze bandage.

“All done. How does it feel?” she asked.

He stood up and moved his arm, testing to see if his range of motion had been reduced. He could feel that the stitches were there but his arm felt good: loose, his movement unrestricted. “It feels like you did a great job. I can see why you’re a nurse.”

Jenna looked pleased. “Thanks.” .

They were quiet after that, staring out the windows as they waited for Steve. Periodically a car would drive past. Other times small groups of infected would walk by. Nobody gave the school with an empty parking lot more than a passing glance. Survivors were looking for other survivors. Infected were looking for people to attack. The elementary school looked empty of both.

The infected didn’t attack each other, Matt noticed with interest. Instead they formed small groups or, in a few cases, large groups. By the looks of things, the infected were always patrolling, ever vigilant.

Matt didn’t realize how depressing the quiet had become until Jenna spoke up.

“Do you have family here, Matt?”

“No. I don’t really have any close family anymore.”

“Oh, sorry.” She looked down. “I didn’t mean to pry.””

Matt shrugged. “You weren’t prying. It’s not like it’s a secret. How about you?”

“My mom and dad live in Chesapeake. I still live with them.” She rolled her eyes. “Nothing says independence like a twenty-five year old who still sleeps in her childhood bedroom, right?”

BOOK: Fall of the Seven Cities Saga (Book 1)
12.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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