Read Stay Dead: A Novel Online

Authors: Steve Wands

Tags: #Horror, #+IPAD, #+UNCHECKED

Stay Dead: A Novel (6 page)

BOOK: Stay Dead: A Novel
13.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


“Boone, you there?” Asked Joseph, in the SUV
with Gerty.

“Yeah, how you guys making out?”

“Not good, we got like a million lurkers
behind us. Any sign of them there?” he asked.

“It’s been clear, why?”

“Make sure you guys are ready to leave–they
just came out of nowhere, they’re everywhere!” Joseph replied
“They’re a few miles behind us now, but I don’t think we should
stick around.”

“Fuck. All right, shit. How far away are

“Maybe…ten minutes, maybe a little less.
We’re moving pretty fast,” Joseph said.

“Tell that idiot not to get everybody worked
up!” Gerty shouted.

“Yeah, yeah, shhh,” Joseph gestured to her
with his hand to shut up.

“What was that?” Boone asked.

“Nothing, just keep everyone calm, over.”
Joseph put the walkie-talkie down.

“Easier said than done, over and out.”


The three vehicles raced toward the camp. For
most, the thought of reaching the Titan City safe zone seemed like
an unrealistic possibility. At first, they thought it would be no
problem, but now, just surviving was proving to be harder and
harder. The creatures now crept from the road and direction they
planned to take to get there. It was a possibility that these
creatures all came from Titan City. However, there are plenty of
other cities, and towns they could be from. By the looks of them it
may have been the whole county. Few options remained for the group,
but they were insistent on continuing with their initial plan,
despite how difficult it would be, especially now.

The creatures appeared to be staggering from
the direction they needed to go. That alone raised a number of red
flags and many questions that would remain unanswered. Most of the
group couldn’t stay where they were. Many had to flee, some were
found, and others hope to find loved ones at Titan City, and other
places along the way. Many towns organized their own safe zones at
churches, schools, even hotels. But news reports stated that they
were becoming overcrowded, and even had violent situations develop
as a result.

The media outlets would eventually report
that the safest course of action was to stay home. Gerty had to
flee her home, and sought sanctuary at her church. When she pulled
up to it, people were banging on the door to get in. She drove off
as soon as she heard the gunshots.

Some of the other travelers had similar
stories. Others left their homes to shack up with nearby relatives
only to find them dead and hungry on arrival. Others had no real
reason for traveling with the group other than to be a part of
something, they were caught in the moment but the moment hadn’t

Everyone had stories.

It had been days, closing in on weeks since
anyone had seen a live television broadcast and days since a live
radio broadcast. They had been sporadic since the start, the last
one ending abruptly just over a day ago. The last of the media
coverage coupled with everyone’s experiences over the last few days
would lead one, or all, to suggest that going ahead to a safe zone
was not the safest idea, nor was it the best solution. With the
media coverage suggesting staying home as the best thing to do, and
everyone knew people who did so, but most of them just couldn’t see
going back home as a solution either. Some had to run from their
homes. For many it was too late to turn back, and the heart doesn’t
know what the head does. They might be headed down the wrong path
but with enough perseverance and hope they can turn the wrong path
into the right one. Or, the devil be damned, survive it.

Boone, for the most part, was the group’s
leader–a role he fell into. It wasn’t something he felt comfortable
with at first, if at all, but it wasn’t his choice anymore. He
spoke his mind and everything he said just made perfect sense. So
when he told the people at the camp to be ready to move out in ten
minutes, they listened. Boone stood, holding a shotgun, in front of
the hodgepodge of a convoy that was lined up and ready to roll out.
Next to Boone were Sarah and Milah, his immediate traveling
companions. Scott and Judy walked up to the three of them. They
seemed almost unaffected by their situation, maybe it was
acceptance of it, but it was something that most people found off
putting. Boone thought that they were probably this way before the
dead forgot how to die, and he found it reassuring, as if he
could’ve known them then. Scott and Judy came to Boone with a small
idea, and he thought it was a good one.

The three vehicles raced up the path toward
Boone and the others. Frankie parked and jumped out of his truck.
Gerty did the same. Eventually almost everyone was out of their
vehicles again and crowding around.

“What’s going on, guys?” Judy asked.

“There’s gotta be a thousand of those things,
maybe more,” Frankie said wildly.

“Thousands,” Boone barely whispered.

“We’ve got plenty of time to get out of here,
but the thing is…they’re coming from the direction we want to go,”
Gerty said, “Which means plan A is fucked, and I don’t recall
hearing a plan B.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. Scott followed
up with, “well, we don’t really have any choice, do we? We have to
go back…or run right through them, either way…”

“We’re not running right through them! That
would be suicide,” Frankie said, cutting him off.

“So we have to go back the other way, but
before we go…I think we should set fire to the brush,” Scott said.
“They’ll walk right into it and it could buy us some extra

“How do you plan on doing that,” Gerty said

“We do have a pretty big bonfire over there,”
Judy said as she pointed toward the pile of burning cadavers and
tree branches.

“We need to worry about getting everybody out
of here first,” Frankie, becoming irritated, said as he looked at
the rest of the group standing by their vehicles.

“What’s going on,” yelled a woman’s voice, as
she stepped out of her car.

“It’s okay, Jan, we’re just figuring out
where to go,” Frankie said.

She didn’t look very satisfied and Frankie
knew if they didn’t figure something out, this would become a very
sticky situation. “Look, we need to get out of here now, we passed
a liquor store before we set up camp here, maybe a half hour down
the road. Let’s go there and figure out something better.”

“Ah, shit, did you hear that?” Gerty said,
looking around. “Get in your cars, and follow Frank. Let’s go!”

“Boone, I’m sticking with my idea: me and
Judy are gonna light this place up,” Scott said as he ran towards
the fire.

“Hurry the fuck up, and watch yer ass,” Boone
said, running to his car.

Jon-Jon ran to his van as Dawn followed
behind. Scott grabbed a tree branch full of flaming leaves and
tossed it into the thick of the woods, igniting the fallen leaves
on the ground. Judy did the same. The leaves began to burn and the
crackling of fire began to fill the night air. Frankie was heading
back down the path with a convoy behind him. Scott and Judy now had
a significant blaze going, nothing that compared to their current
bonfire, but it was something.

The last of the vehicles pulled out and down
the path. Scott and Judy continued to spread the fire along the
brush. Some patches took while others died out or else blew away.
Judy ran to their little car, an early hybrid. It used to be a
bright blue, but that was no longer the case. She started it up and
drove it toward the path. She got out and left the door slightly
open. Judy was getting very nervous.

The fire was climbing the trees as the sickly
smell of rotted meat crawled up her nose. She knew the smell all
too well, even before the dead came back to life she’d come to know
that smell. It was rot. She recalled one of the few cadavers she
ever worked on. It was summer. The man had gotten so drunk that he
fell off his balcony and broke his neck on the way down. He landed
behind a row of bushes and laid there for three days before anyone
noticed. His neighbors didn’t notice he was missing, just that
there was a terrible smell. His neighbor thought the smell came
from a dead animal. When she found out it was the man from upstairs
she was aghast. She never knew the man, but if you asked her if she
did, she’d probably tell you ‘no’ but that she knew he liked to
have fun (and maybe he had a bit too much fun the night he

“I think we should go,” she said, and went
back to the car, throwing another burning branch into the

“Right behind you, babe,” Scott had a flaming
branch in each hand. He ran them down a bit farther and tossed
them. He turned and ran to the car. He hopped into the passenger
side and Judy pressed the pedal to the floor.


She raced down the path, sweating, Scott too,
he wiped his brow. Judy started screaming. At first Scott looked at
her, then looked ahead at the path. There were lurkers coming out
of the woods. Many of them were seminude, their clothes and skin
were shredded, both hanging on in desperate clumps and clots.

“Gun it, don’t stop!” Scott yelled.

She listened, plowing two of them over, one
of them leaving some of its rotting face on the windshield; skin
off of its cheekbone and the dried up gelatin of its yellowed eyes.
Judy kept up her speed, although the handling on the woodland
ground was far from ideal. But she managed to keep the car on the
path. She hit another, and another, as the blood and gristle
covered the windshield. She flicked on the wipers and they did a
wonderful job of smearing it around without wiping it off. She
couldn’t see any of the damage that the dead things had done to her
car, but she could feel it in the handling.

Nearing the end of the path, she fishtailed
onto the road and could see thirty of forty of them lumbering
forward, which was just the tip of the iceberg. Dead fingers
scraped at the windows as Judy sped away.

“Whoo!” Scott yelled, his grin going from ear
to ear.

“Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God,” is all
Judy could say.

“That was fuckin’ crazy!” he said as he put
his hand over his chest to feel the rapid beating of his heart.

Her foot was pressed to the floor, and their
little car sped along. The windshield wipers were finally starting
to clear some of the gunk off. The dim yellow streetlights made the
blood smears look like yellow mud. There were chunks of gristle on
the grill, around the headlights, the rearview mirrors and even the
sides of the car were caked in blood.

They pulled up to the liquor store. Everyone
else from the group was outside of their cars and in the midst of a
harried group discussion. The kids were sitting in the back of
Frankie’s pick up and inside Jon-Jon’s van, just out of earshot.
Everyone turned to look when Scott and Judy pulled in, they
continued looking when they saw how bloody the vehicle had

“What the hell happened?” Boone asked.

“They were right on top of us, as soon as we
started down the trail, they were everywhere,” Judy said.

“We were maybe two minutes behind the rest of
you guys and then bam, out of nowhere,” Scott finished for her.

“Shit, they’re moving quicker than we
thought,” said Ben.

“Who the hell are you?” Scott asked the new

“Ben. We were at the store, met up with your
friends there,” Ben told him. He held his palm up to point out
Shorty and Chung-Hee.

“Oh, okay, sorry, didn’t mean to sound like a
dick,” Scott mumbled.

“Okay, so they’re still on our ass,” Eddie

“…and we’re still no better off than before,”
Frankie headed towards his truck.

“What about those office buildings down the
way?” Judy asked.

“Nah, we’d really have to check it out before
jumping inside,” Boone said.

“He’s right, we have to go further. We’d need
time to check a place out…could walk into a deathtrap,” Eddie

“Can we fight ‘em? Are there really that
many…we got guns,” Ricker chimed in.

“Ricker, that would be crazy,” Boone

“It’s not that crazy…maybe…” Jon-Jon

“Get the fuck outta here, you seen how many
there were,” Gerty clenched her meaty fists.

“I’m serious. There’s that truck stop not too
far from here, just past the office buildings, we can rig that big
propane tank to blow and that could set off the pumps,” Jon-Jon

“That’s fucking crazy and stupid!” Gerty’s
knuckles turned white as she squeezed her fists tighter.

“I never said it wasn’t, but so is being
chased by fucking zombies,” Jon-Jon replied.

“Please don’t call them that, it creeps me
out. Zombies can’t be real. Those people must have a disease or
something,” Judy said.

“Save the debate for later. Jon, maybe you’re
right…it’s not that bad of an idea,” Boone said, “its crazy enough,
it just might work.”

“What?” Gerty was dumbfounded.

“If we can kill enough of them… maybe we can
pass them. If not, we can still try for the city. There’s many
small towns up ahead, too that we can drive through and maybe get
around those things. We already know what’s behind us,” Boone

“Ain’t nothing behind us,” Ricker added,
spitting on the ground, “nothing but dead ends,” he added with a
morbid smile.

“What do we have to lose?” Boone asked.


Despite the lack of any unanimous decision,
the group headed for the truck stop. There was certainly the chance
that the truck stop would be out of fuel and low on propane. But
without much of an alternative Jon-Jon and Boone persuaded the
others to see it through. How they managed to do so, neither could
figure out. It seemed with each passing day people were willing to
do things they wouldn’t have a day prior.

While passing the section of office buildings
in enroute to the truck stop Gerty slowed down to take a look. She
noticed a few cars still in the lot and a door to one of the
buildings was wide open. A bloody handprint led from the middle of
the door to the ground and caught between the door and its frame
was a body; a swollen, twisted, mangled mess of a body. There were
a few other buildings that looked vacant but would need a much
closer inspection before consideration. And time was an unfriendly
neighbor with nowhere to be but at your throat.

BOOK: Stay Dead: A Novel
13.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Enemies & Allies by Kevin J Anderson
Love From the Ashes by Cheryl Persons
Mr. Darcy's Dream by Elizabeth Aston
On Fire by Tory Richards
The Tide (Tide Series Book 1) by Melchiorri, Anthony J
Plunder of Gor by Norman, John;
Sweet Ginger Poison by Robert Burton Robinson