Read This Rotten World (Book 1) Online

Authors: The Vocabulariast

Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse

This Rotten World (Book 1) (17 page)

BOOK: This Rotten World (Book 1)
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Emanna
didn’t know better, so she ran to hug her mother. Anan did the same. Anan never
had to wash another dish again.

Chapter 40: On the
Road

 

Dustin's
studio apartment wasn't much to look at. It was good enough for him. The rent
was cheap, it was fine for a one-night fling, and he was on the top floor, so
he didn't have to hear his neighbors for the most part. The one exception was
the guy next door, a recovering alcoholic who spent more time drinking than
recovering.

As he
stepped from the apartment's cramped bathroom, he toweled himself off. Not even
the scalding hot water of the shower could make him feel clean after everything
he had seen that night.

The woman was
asleep on his couch, which also served as his bed. She had said her name was
Suzy before she curled up on his couch and drifted off to sleep. He didn't
mind. It gave him a chance to freshen up and get his mind straight.

The random
crack of gunfire in the morning also had a hand in helping him figure things
out. After sliding on a clean, white T-shirt, Dustin padded across the living
room to turn the TV on. He sat down in the apartment's only chair with the remote
in his hand. What he saw only served to steel his resolve to get the hell out
of town.

Things were
bad all over. As the visions of violence danced across the screen, Dustin
couldn't help but feel the nervousness build in his body. It started in his
chest, and five minutes after he had first felt it, his body was trembling with
tension. Just then Suzy woke up.

She sat up,
her hair in a tangled mess, rubbing her eyes and yawning. Then she slowly laid
back down on the couch and said, "I was hoping it was all just a
dream."

Dustin
didn't know what to say, so he just remained quiet.

"He
was a nice guy, you know."

"Who?"

"My
brother, the man in the car." Suzy looked off into the distance. Dustin
tried to ascertain if she was merely sad or suffering from some sort of mental
breakdown. "Pete was always a good guy. Last night, he called me up and
said that he wasn't feeling so well. He had gotten into some sort of bar fight
with a man. The man bit him, but he didn't think anything of it. I was taking
him to the hospital when we got into the accident."

Dustin
watched as realization dawned on her face. "The other driver. Did
they..."

He
interrupted her with a negative shake of his head. She buried her face in his
sofa/bed, and sobbed softly. Dustin began gathering his things, unable to
comfort the woman. How do you comfort someone who had inadvertently killed
someone when their brother had turned into a monster? Someone else might have
the words for that, but not him.

"Listen.
We have to go. The city is waking up. Things are bad."

Suzy, her
head still buried in the couch, said, "How bad?"

Dustin took
a deep breath. "It's not just happening here. It's happening all over. The
best thing we can do is to get away from here, get away from people as much as
we can."

Suzy didn't
offer any argument, so he continued to pack some things into his lone suitcase.
"Do you have any family here? Besides your brother?" He felt like an
ass mentioning him so soon, so he stuffed an extra pair of socks into the
suitcase angrily.

"No,
my parents retired to Florida last year. I was going to move down there, but I
finally got hired as a teacher here. We were planning to take a vacation this
August, but well... I guess that's all just a pipedream now."

Dustin
pulled open the bottom drawer of his dresser and pulled out a few T-shirts,
mostly old, faded T-shirts with band names printed across them, most of them
black. After plopping four of them in the suitcase, he threw in a couple pairs
of jeans and some underwear. He would give anything for a gun, and he almost
felt like an idiot for being so anti-gun for most of his adult life. This was
the reason the 2nd Amendment existed. Instead, he walked over to the closet and
pulled out an old aluminum bat with the words "Easton" emblazoned
across the barrel in red lettering.

"Even
if you had the money, they've shut down all air traffic to try and prevent the
spread of whatever this is. I heard it on the news." It was as if Suzy had
just realized that there was a TV on in the room. She finally pulled her head
out of the couch long enough to watch. Then she slowly sat up, sucked into the
vortex of carnage that careened across the screen.

Dustin
closed his suitcase and rested the baseball bat on top of it. Then he walked to
the kitchen and began stuffing canned goods into paper bags. He was never so
happy that he always had a pantry stocked with soup. It wasn't a lot, but it
was enough to keep them from starving for a couple of weeks.

He walked
out of his tiny kitchen and into the main room of his studio apartment to find
Suzy staring at the TV, her mouth wide open and panic etched on her face. He
placed the bags of food on the ground next to his suitcase and then walked over
to Suzy. He placed his hands on her upper arms, and stared her directly in the
face to make sure he had her attention.

"We
have to go. We have to get out of the city."

Suzy shook
her head in disbelief. "We can't go out there. People are dying. We'll be
murdered."

Dustin
shook his head and tried to speak as clearly as he could. "We have to leave.
If we wait here, there will be more of those things. It's going to get a hell
of a lot worse before it gets better. If we sit here and wait, we may not make
it out alive. I'm going. With or without you. I've got an old car, not much to
look at, but it runs just fine. I'm ready to go. You can stay here or you can
come with me, but you've got to make up your mind. Make it up right now. If we
stick together, there's a chance. If you want to stay here, you're welcome to
it, but in 30 seconds, I'm walking right out that door and you're on your own."

She sat
there thinking about it. Dustin wanted to slap her across the face to make her
see reason, but that's not the type of guy he was. When it had been well over
thirty seconds and she still hadn't said anything, he walked over to the floor,
and picked up his baseball bat in one hand and his suitcase in the other. She
just sat there. He'd just have to make another trip to get the food.

His front
door opened out onto the second floor of a courtyard. He looked left and then
right, not trusting the quiet of his general vicinity. He bounded down the
rickety iron staircase, in a hurry to be done and away before the highways
became clogged. He walked briskly, looking all about him, the hair on the back
of his neck standing up. He had a white-knuckle grip on his baseball bat.

He
approached the back of his primer gray Volkswagen Beetle knockoff. Made in
Mexico, the car was an aging antiquity that suited his sensibilities just fine.
Living in the city, Dustin had never had much use for it. The most he ever did
with the car was hop inside, start up the engine and take it around the block
for a few minutes. It was slow to get going, but it ran like a gem once it got
the kinks out.

He lifted
the hood of the Beetle and then crammed his suitcase in as tight as he could.
The hood would close, but the food was going to have to be crammed in the back.

A noise
startled him into action. He slammed the hood of his car, and hefted his bat,
ready to defend himself. It was just Suzy, standing there with a bag of food in
her arms. Dustin smiled and let the bat fall to his side, "You scared the
shit out of me."

Suzy looked
almost embarrassed, "I'm sorry."

"Don't
worry about it. I'm glad you're coming. I didn't really want to do this all
alone." Dustin opened the car for her, and she dumped the bag of groceries
inside. Together, they walked back to his apartment and grabbed the last bag of
groceries. They sat in the seat of the car as the day brightened. He put the
key in the ignition, turned it, and began to feel nervous as he couldn't get
the engine to turn over.

He was on
his third try when Suzy screamed and pointed down the street; two people were
walking towards the car, their shambling steps and blood-spattered clothing
ominous in the light of the day. He turned the key again, and this time the
engine caught. Dustin pulled away from the curb, fumbling with the stick shift,
as it had been a while since he had last taken the car out for a spin.

The
windshield was dirty and the morning glare made it hard to see. He slowly
maneuvered the car through the growing crowd of creatures at the end of the
street. Suzy jumped as one of them struck at her window, shattering the window
and covering Suzy in jagged bits of glass. Dustin accelerated.

Once on the
road, the going was a little easier, but it was clear that the city was fast
becoming a shell of its former self. Random bodies littered the street, and
dozens of those things were wandering about. The noise of his car drew their
eyes and their footsteps.

There were
other cars on the road as well, seemingly just as dangerous as the creatures
that filled the streets. He swerved to avoid a speeding sports car only to
sideswipe one of the dead. Suzy screamed at the impact. Despite the fact that
he was pretty sure the woman had a broken leg, she still got up, and followed
after them, limping and stumbling in his rearview mirror. He hoped she never
caught up.

It was only
a mile to the freeway on-ramp, but in that mile, they saw all they needed to
see to know that they were making the right decision. As Dustin hit the freeway
on-ramp, he accelerated around a corner, only to slam on his breaks at the last
second. He skidded to a stop, inches from the car in front of him.

The traffic
was backed up for miles. Cars were honking, people were waving their arms out
windows, and in general, it seemed like a giant disaster waiting to happen.
Dustin was about to throw it in reverse when two other cars pulled up behind
him, trapping him on the on-ramp. In the distance, he could see greasy smoke
rising to the sky. There were no lights; no fire trucks weaving through the
traffic to put out the fire.

Dustin got
out of the car to ascertain the situation, ignoring the protest of Suzy. He
couldn't see much, but no one seemed to be moving. On a whim, Dustin looked
behind them, and saw a horde of people heading toward them on foot. They
stumbled and shambled but in the few seconds he took to watch them, they were a
few feet closer, and he knew that was close enough.

He got back
in the car, rolled down his window and adjusted his side mirror. He could see
the heads of the crowd cresting the visible horizon. Dustin threw the car in
gear and said, "Hold on."

Suzy
screamed some more, and Dustin cranked the wheel to the right, pulling into the
emergency lane. He gunned the engine, and the car jerked to life, racing up the
emergency lane. He could feel the evil stares of the people that he was
passing, but if it kept him away from the people that were behind him, he could
tolerate a few dirty glances.

He had gone
about twenty car lengths when a semi-truck veered into the emergency lane,
halting his progress. He skidded to a stop. By now, more cars had followed his
course of action, and there was nowhere to go. He was trapped between a concrete
divider, a semi-truck that had no interest in getting out of his way, and a
line of cars that had all followed him up the emergency lane.

Seeing no
other option, Dustin turned the car off and exited the vehicle. More screams
from Suzy. He was deaf to them, just as he would be to everything if he didn't
get them moving. He ran up to the semi-truck on the left side amid honking and
cursing from the cars behind him. He waved his hand at them as if to say he was
sorry, which he was.

He reached
the cab of the semi-truck, a gaudy yellow thing with a smiling lady in lingerie
emblazoned on the side. He hoisted himself up on the step to see inside the
window. He was greeted with the sight of two barrels of sawed-off death.
Immediately, he threw one hand up, while the other grasped on the handle on the
side of the truck. Seeing as how he hadn't had his head blown off yet, he
decided to push his luck.

"Can
you roll down your window?" he yelled.

The driver
was hesitant, but against his better judgment, he lowered his window.
"What do you want?" he asked gruffly.

"I was
just wondering if you could move this truck so we can get out of here. We've
got some visitors back there." He pointed back in the direction they had
come. The driver moved quickly despite his bulk. He threw upon the door that
Dustin was clinging to, sending him tumbling to the ground.

"Where?"
he asked. The driver stood in his doorway, his hand to his forehead to shield
his eyes from the morning sun. Dustin was about to point out the throng, when
the driver's mouth dropped open. "Jesus H. Christ. Is that them?"

"Them?"
he said confused.

"The
fucking monsters. Is that them?"

"Yeah.
I guess that is them. Now can you move this truck or what?"

The driver
looked down at him as if he were a piece of gum stuck to one of his tires.
Without saying a word, he sat back in the driver's seat of his truck and
slammed the door shut. The hiss of air brakes being released was the only
warning that Dustin had before the truck blasted into gear, smashing into the
sedan in front of him. In a few seconds, the truck was motoring down the
emergency lane, taking off rearview mirrors and paint with each car it passed.

Finally, a
stroke of common sense. Dustin ran back to his car, dodging another vehicle
that was eager to follow the truck's example. He was too tired and nervous to
even yell anything at the driver. When he got back into the car, Suzy was in
tears. Dustin checked his rearview. He could see the horde approaching the
first set of cars that were still stuck on the on-ramp... the ones who had
decided to play by the rules. He watched as the first of the creatures shattered
the glass of the car and pulled its occupants out screaming. He tried to start
the car.

BOOK: This Rotten World (Book 1)
10.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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