Authors: Christian Fletcher
“Come on, Smith. Hurry up!” I screamed.
fingers with blackened nails reached for Smith as he tried to bat the assailants away with his handgun. He wasn’t going to have enough time to clamber up the front of the truck and join us on the roof. The hungry dead would be happily chomping on his legs before he had the chance to crawl to safety.
“You have to move now, Smith,” Batfish shrieked.
I lay on the roof, my mouth hung open in disbelief and I silent
ly prayed I wasn’t about to witness the death of my good friend. Smith was a guy who had kept me alive through all this bad shit over the last six months. Without him, I wouldn’t even give myself and Batfish a couple more days surviving as living, breathing human beings.
Sweat ran down my face but I shivered as my flesh felt ice cold. I drew my Beretta and took some pot shots at the zombies closest to Smith to try and bide him some more time. He smashed the barrel of his M-9 into ghoulish faces as they tried to get near him. My main worry was the undead would drag him away from the truck while taking bites out of him. I remembered how Smith had fired one shot into Chaplain Brady’s head to alleviate his suffering last time we were on the Airbase. I just hoped I wouldn’t have to do the same to Smith.
He backed up tightly against the truck’s passenger side door, firing into the crowd.
“We have to help him, Brett,” Batfish screeched into my ear.
I felt nauseous with sheer helplessness. All the yelling and screaming in the world wouldn’t keep the merciless, undead creatures back from their relentless pursuit of living flesh.
Smith reached around his back with his free hand. He fumbled with the passenger door handle with the tips of his fingers. The door clunked and opened slightly. Smith flung the door open as wide as its axis would allow. The heavy metal panel slammed into the
zombies leading the throng, propelling them backwards into their cohorts behind. The action gave Smith a vital second of breathing space. He leapt into the cab truck and slammed the door behind him. I saw his fist slam down on the interior door lock a fraction of a second before the undead crowd surged around the cab.
“Are you okay, Smith?” I hollered, lowering my head opposite at the windshield glass.
“Ah, yeah, I’m having a ball, kid,” came Smith’s muffled reply.
The undead surrounded the side of the truck and banged and slapped relentlessly on the metal panels. They screeched and howled like wild animals cheated out of their prey.
I heard a gunshot from the cab below me then the sound of shattering glass. Chips of the driver’s side window exploded outwards and rained down on the shoulder blacktop. Smith’s head appeared at roof level as he crawled from the shattered window.
“Quick! Help me up before those fuckers get around this side of the truck,” he grunted.
Batfish and I slithered across the roof and took hold of a wrist each. Smith still held his M-9 in his right hand but was careful to point the barrel above our heads as we hauled him out of the cab. He clattered onto the roof and the three of us lay on our backs staring at the night sky, breathing heavily with exertion.
Well, that’s another fine mess you got me in
,” Smith gasped. I was guessing he was badly imitating Oliver Hardy.
“Never mind. An old quote.”
Smith’s attempts at humor passed me by sometimes.
The truck started to rock from side to side as the undead crowd massed around the sides of the vehicle and pressed themselves against the side panels.
Batfish squeaked and gripped hold of the indented ruts. “What the hell are we going to do now? This mob is going to shake us off the roof real soon.”
“Everybody reload, while we still have time,” Smith commanded and handed out some spare ammo.
We clicked our full magazines into place and watched
another red flare pop overhead, lighting up the night sky. A sudden thought flashed through my brain. I remembered the flare pistol I’d shoved into the bottom of the bag.
“Hey Smith, do you remember that flare gun we found back on the boat?”
“Yeah, sort of, but it’s not going to be of any use right now, is it?”
it is. I put it in the bag when we left earlier.”
“I put it in that damn bag you have wrapped around your shoulders when we left the boat.”
Smith slipped off the daypack and rummaged around the contents inside.
“Hand me the flashlight.”
I slipped the flashlight from my side pocket and passed it to Smith. He shone the beam into the bag until he found the flare pistol.
Then he snapped open the barrel and took out the fat cartridge, examining it under the light beam.
“It’s white, that’s good news,” he muttered.
It’s white – that’s good news
– like how?” Batfish condescended.
“Well, whoever is firing up
those red flares probably wouldn’t notice another flare the same color but a white flare might just grab their attention,” Smith explained.
“That’s providing they’re not in the same kind of shit
ty situation we’re in,” Batfish snapped.
The zombies rattled the sides of the truck and rocked the vehicle in a seemingly renewed frenzy, incited by the latest red pyrotechnic.
“It’s got to be worth a shot,” Smith barked, gripping the side of the roof.
“Don’t let the bag slide off the roof,” I warned, warily eyeing the daypack shifting towards the abyss below.
Smith grabbed the strap and slung it over his head.
“Okay, what are you waiting for? Fire the damn thing,” Batfish yelled.
Smith bum shuffled his way to the center of the roof, pointed the flare pistol towards the sky and pulled the trigger. I was half expecting nothing to happen and wondered if the cartridge was damp or a dud or out of its sell by date or some damn thing that would stop it firing. To my surprise, the pistol gave a hollow ‘
’ sound and the cartridge discharged into the air then shredded a luminous white glow above the truck. I glanced down and saw the flare had illuminated a sea of ugly, partly-rotten faces, exposing gnashing, blackened teeth amongst frenzied facial expressions. The scene was the stuff nightmares were made of.
The undead watched the flare rise for a few seconds before returning their attention back towards us. They continued to pound all sides of the truck, wailing and moaning like hunting nocturnal creatures on the prowl.
“Hey, you could say we’re meals on wheels,” Smith said, with a slight snigger. I guess it was his attempt at a quip.
“Was that supposed to be some vain attempt at humor?” Batfish scolded.
“Ah, come on. I was just trying to lighten the mood.” Smith shrugged defensively.
I shook my head in disbelief. Sometimes I thought Smith had actually lost his mind.
“How can you make jokes at a time like this?” I muttered.
Smith mumbled something I didn’t catch and placed the flare pistol back into the bag.
“So much for the master plan with the flare gun then, you pair of geniuses,” Batfish groaned. “We’re going to be stuck on the roof of this crappy truck forever. And if you say another lame joke like the last one, Smith, I’m going to jump into that whole pack of zombies down there.”
“Okay, I can take a hint.” Smith looked genuinely upset.
He lit a cigarette and offered the pack around. Batfish took one but I shook my head. Maybe it was time to try and quit the filthy habit once again. My whole body ached and felt limp with fatigue.
I huffed and let the back of my head bang against the roof’s sheet metal. My thoughts drifted while I tried to block out the horrendous noise emitting from the undead only a few feet below me. I
closed my eyes and wondered about the delivery driver who owned the truck. I pictured the poor bastard trying to make a delivery onto the Airbase and suddenly being surrounded by a horde of once-human abominations. Or maybe it was a different scenario. He might have jumped out of the truck and ran back down the road and hitched a ride with a passerby, now living it up in Vegas or Mexico. It was a possibility he could be living in a five-star hotel in Los Angeles, socializing with the remaining rich and famous, sitting on a sun-lounger with two gorgeous, bikini clad girls lying beside him. He’d be sipping a cocktail and telling everyone – “
I used to deliver packages for UPS but look at me now!
” I imagined him to be a short but overweight, middle-aged, bald guy with a kind of croaky voice and spoke with a New York accent, even though he was probably from the south. He still wore his brown UPS uniform every day, even when he was lounging by the pool. His name was probably Clive or maybe Jerry and had been married to a large, overbearing woman who nagged him when he got home. Clive or Jerry hadn’t seen his wife since the zombies had taken over the world and didn’t give a fuck if she was alive or dead. He’d put his drink down, turn to the girls and say – “
The zombie apocalypse is the best damn thing that ever happened to me!
” The girls would giggle and say – “
Oh, Clive/Jerry, you say the most profound things!
” Clive/Jerry would then make a suggestive sexual innuendo about going up to his hotel room. Something like – “
Hey, I can see some headlamps coming!
“Maybe, but probably something a little smuttier,” I
“What are you talking about, Brett?” Batfish hissed. “I said I can see some car
headlamps coming down the road.”
I opened my eyes and shook my head, attempting to
integrate into the real world again from my crazy trance. I’d been somewhere between sleep and stupor. Batfish pointed beyond the canopy further into the darkened Airbase. A pair of gleaming headlamps cut bright, white beams through the blackness. I heard the roar of a powerful engine above the moans of the undead.
“Did you put any spare flare cartridges in the bag, Wilde?” Smith asked.
“No,” I croaked, my throat dry and parched. “Only what was in the pistol.”
“I sure hope this is the rescue party on their way,” Batfish said.
Smith sat up on his haunches with a look of concern on his face. “Yeah, but if they don’t see us and start gunning down these zombies, we may get caught in the crossfire.”
The approaching vehicle roared at speed under the canopy, smashing a few straggling zombies out of its path.
The majority of the undead horde surrounding the UPS truck turned to study the oncoming vehicle, probably attracted by the noise and bright headlamps.
Smith knelt up and waved his arms above his head
, the flashlight in his left hand. “Hey! Hey! Don’t shoot this way,” he yelled.
The occupants of the vehicle obviously didn’t see or hear Smith’s pleas. The deafening sound
of heavy duty machine gun fire rattled through the night air. Zombies dropped to the ground in their droves, diseased blood bursting from their wounds. Smith dived face first onto the flat truck roof. I rolled onto my front and surveyed the scene of carnage, slightly below my eye line.
The machine gunner let rip with another blast but this time the bullets came too close for comfort. I heard a series of metallic twangs as the rounds ripped through the side of the UPS truck a few inches below us.
It only needed a bullet to ricochet off a solid shelf or the internal main structure to send it upwards and pierce the thin roof metal.
I gritted my teeth and winced at the deep rasping machine gun clatter. The truck jolted when the rounds slammed into the side and I heard several ricochets pinging around the interior.
Batfish screamed when one of the tires blew and the whole truck lurched sideways, tilting the roof towards the road.
Smith pulled out his M-9 and fired a volley of shots into the air.
Thankfully, the heavy machine gun ceased firing and the vehicle’s engine cut out. Zombie moans returned as the only audible sound. My ears still rang with the after effects of the raucous gun fire. The stench of cordite and stale blood wafted through the night air.
“Hold your fire! Hold your fire!” Smith yelled. “We’re friendlies on the truck roof.”