Chapter 19-3

~~~

By the time Marcus and Charlie reached the large glass windows at the front of the dealership, the car lot was nearly overrun with the undead. They could do nothing but watch as two large crowds surrounded an SUV with a shattered roof and the Lincoln where they’d last left Amanda and Stephen.

“What do we do?” Charlie asked. “Do you think they made it back to the river?”

Marcus hesitated, staring at the Lincoln, and then replied, “I’m sorry, Charlie. It doesn’t seem likely that they got away. I know Amanda was special to you but we should get back to the river while there’s still a chance. Half the city will be here soon. I don’t know how this happened, but it’s what we came to do.”

“They might still be alive,” Charlie said matter-of-factly.

“And if they are, what do you suppose we could do about it? I’m pretty handy with this brush cutter, and you have your pipe, but they have the numbers.”

Charlie studied Marcus’s unreadable expression. Yes, he believed the man would leave them there. He couldn’t understand his own reluctance to depart. He cared very little what happened to Stephen, or for most of the others. This was their own fault for following the red-headed bitch to their doom. Yet, still, he wasn’t ready to lose Amanda.

The whore means nothing; a wonderful distraction at best.

He couldn’t argue with the math. They’d be slaughtered trying to play hero.

Hero.

Yes, perhaps this was one of those opportunities Marcus had mentioned. Charlie stared at the hungry horde. They were overwhelming collectively but he believed he could control them… like before.

Putting on his best mask of compassion, Charlie turned and said, “Head back toward the river, Marcus. Tell the others what’s happened.”

“Where are you going?”

Charlie smiled and said, “If I can save them from this, will you believe that I’m capable to lead this group?”

“Absolutely, Charlie, but… there’s really nothing we can do.”

“There’s no more time.” Charlie moved toward the door, trying to work up the nerve to face the mob outside. Give me five minutes to get their attention and then get to the river.”

“You’re insane! They’ll tear you to pieces.”

“You just remember what you see in the next few minutes. Remember that it’s not Gina who is going to keep us alive from now on, it’s ME!”

Marcus tried to grab him but Charlie was already out the door.

~~~

“Remember what we talked about,” Gina started as she examined the ammunition shelf with a flashlight. “Only what’s essential. We’re not here to shop for luxury items and we still need to be able to move in a hurry with all this gear on our backs so distribute the weight accordingly. Meredith, you grab the food items. Frank, Greg, you grab guns, ammo, and all the rest of the outdoor gear. I want one pack per person ready to go in fifteen minutes.”

“Gun preference?” Greg asked.

Gina was ready for that one. “Looks like the majority of your friend’s remaining stock is handguns. That suits us fine since you, Frank and myself are the only ones with any experience with firearms. Go with the Glock 17’s. They’re the easiest to shoot and clean. I want one in each of the packs. If time permits maybe we can teach the others the fundamentals, but for now we need weapons we can point and shoot. Nothing complicated.”

“The 9mm’s don’t pack much of a punch compared to the rest,” Frank said, examining a new .45 caliber hand gun. “We can do more damage with these.”

Gina tossed him a box of rounds. “Hollow points. They will effectively kill whatever’s left of their brains. There’s a whole shit load of boxes for the 9’s. We’ll pack those.”

Frank saluted and began loading a pack with the rounds.

“Greg, pick out a few good rifles and load them. I want to be ready in case things get bad here.”

Greg nodded and went to the wall of rifles.

Gina grabbed a Remington with a shoulder strap, found a box of shells and began loading the shotgun. She emptied the loose shells into her pocket and strapped the gun around her back. She then loaded two Glocks and placed them in the back of her waistband.

“Your father must have made the most of turning his daughter into his son,” Frank remarked, observing Gina’s familiarity with the weapons.

Gina shook her head. “What, just because I didn’t run to the Barbie wall or grab something pink, all you men think it’s astonishing that a woman doesn’t break a nail loading a weapon?”

Frank laughed. “I guess my compliment doesn’t sound so flattering when you put it that way.”

“Just grab the gear and try to remember that we’re a team now… or are you already eyeballing the back door? My father taught me many things about guns, but he said that all the knowledge meant squat if you didn’t have the brass to stand up and protect the people you care about. Just something I thought I’d pass on.”

Frank said nothing.

Meredith returned with a shopping cart full of various dry good food items and bottled water. She started filling the packs. “Should be enough here for a few days.”

Gina nodded. “Keep going everyone. I’m going to check the bus.”

She got as close to the bus emergency door as she could and carefully peeked outside. There were a dozen dead men scattered about the parking lot, headed toward the dealership. None seemed interested in the school bus sticking out the front door of the ammo shop.

Assuming the others had not died horribly, they should be following the river back around and heading their way. She silently prayed that everything was alright.

“Gina,” Greg said, poking his head into the bus. “Good news.”

“The zombie apocalypse is over?”

“No… not quite. I was thinkin’ about Archie and how he used to brag about his little fishin’ boat, which he had professionally painted with these God-awful green flames. Why on earth he’d want to paint a fishin’ boat is beyond me… anyway, it occurred to me that he might keep it docked here since I never saw it on a trailer at his house.”

Gina waited.

“I just looked out back and it’s there. Ugly-ass green flames and all.”

“Shit, that is good news. Can we use it to get up river? Is it big enough for all of us?”

“It’s big enough. I’ll need to check the motor and fuel but it looks like he kept good care of her.”

“Finish what you’re doing and go check on the boat.”

Greg nodded and was about to depart.

“Greg, wait. One more thing.”

Greg waited.

“Be careful out there… and don’t tell Frank what you’re doing.”

Greg frowned.

“Hey!” Frank called out. “Get down here. She’s at it again.”

Gina and Greg rushed out of the bus to find Meredith being helped up by Frank.

“I’m alright,” she said. “Just took me by surprise.”

“What is it, Meredith?” Gina asked.

“It’s what it always is: those things outside. I can handle it when they’re just wandering about. But when they get the scent of something fresh… they get wild.”

“Sounds like trouble,” Frank said.

Meredith looked at him and responded, “They only get like this when they’re in range of us… real, living people.”

“Shit,” Gina said. “Let’s get finished quickly.”

Meredith turned and grabbed Gina’s arm. “It’s real bad this time. Only gets like this when there’s a whole lot of them spun up.”

“Like half-the-city spun up, is more likely,” Frank added.

“Shit,” Gina repeated. “Greg, now’s the time to see if that ugly green thing is going to help us out or not.”

He nodded. “I’m on it.”

Gina took a deep breath. “Let’s get ready. Sounds like our friends are going to be needing a little help from these guns soon.”

~~~

Charlie positioned himself behind a Sedan at the north end of the car lot, opposite the river. He could hardly think over the sound of the car alarms which assaulted his ears. The undead continued to focus primarily on what remained of the corpse on the SUV roof and the living cuisines trapped within the Lincoln.

He forced himself to calm down, remembering how ineffective his fear was at the boathouse. This was a much larger group but he believed he could still maintain control.

One of them at the outer edge of the mob turned and noticed Charlie. It became excited and started toward him, dragging a broken foot.

That’s right. Over here you stupid fuckers! You’re about to make me look awesome.

Others took notice and soon they all began to move away from the cars and pursue Charlie.

When they were within fifty feet of swarming Charlie’s position, he lifted his arms dramatically, feeling like Moses about to part the Red Sea, and yelled, “Alright, you fucking zombie throwbacks… STOP!”

They did not.

What the fuck?

“STOP, I SAID… HALT… BE FUCKING STILL!”

They continued to advance upon the fresh meat.

Charlie started stepping backward. He turned, noticing others were approaching from behind, coming down McCormick Avenue.

Why is this not working?! What the fuck am I doing wrong?

“I SAID STOP MOVING AND LISTEN TO ME!”

The dead continued to advance.

That’s when it occurred to him:

The car alarms! They can’t fucking hear me!

Charlie turned to run, ducking just beneath the arms of a tall monstrosity which fell to the ground. He put some distance between himself and the car lot mob of the undead which were frantically trying to maneuver through the vehicles to reach their prey.

He looked toward the large dealership windows for Marcus. No one was there. He tried to find a clear path through the cars to the river but there were too many of them.

That left only McCormick Avenue, straight into the heart of downtown Painesville. He turned to study the road and saw another horde approaching, attracted to the sound of the car alarms. They hadn’t seen him yet.

No! It can’t end like this! I have to beat them to the next block and get around… somehow.

Charlie began to run up McCormick.

The pending horde saw him and began to move faster. If they cut him off, he was done.

He raced the undead toward the intersection.

~~~

“There’s no way out!” Amanda screamed as she pushed up close to Stephen.

The Lincoln rocked as the dead surrounded the vehicle, pressing mutilated faces up against the glass and snapping their teeth at them.

Four of them had crawled up on the hood and were banging against the windshield, leaving so many bloody and smeared hand prints that they could no longer see out of the glass.

Stephen was struggling with an overzealous zombie who had managed to get his left arm through the four-inch opening at the top of the driver side window. He tried to push the arm out, grabbing at cold and clammy flesh.

The windshield began to crack. They had a few moments left, if they were lucky, and then the end.

He heard Amanda laughing and turned.

She sat back against the seat and threw her hands in the air. “I should’ve gone for that drink, Stephen. Should’ve gone for that fucking drink!”

Stephen had nothing. He let go of the zombie’s arm and looked into the twisted faces of the dead. A calmness seized him staring into their hunger driven eyes. They did not care about him, about what he did—he found no judgment in those lifeless gazes, only need. Perhaps they would eat all of it—flesh, bone… guilt.

Now was the time. He looked at Amanda. She was crying into her hands. “I’m sorry, Amanda,” he said.

Amanda looked up into his eyes.

Stephen tapped into the tranquil sea which flooded his emotions until the fear was no more. “It was all my fault,” he said. “Nicole… Marie… I’m responsible. I mur-”

“Look!” Amanda said, pointing toward the windshield. “They’re leaving!”

Stephen turned. The dead were falling back. Something had drawn them off the car. “What the hell is going on?”

Amanda sat up beside him and together they watched the mob head north through the maze of cars. She caught a glimpse of the cause. “Get him,” she whispered.

Stephen looked at her, puzzled.

She wore a wicked little smile which unnerved him.

Stephen looked back toward the north. Then he saw. “Holy shit! They’re after Charlie!”

A loud rap against the rear window caught their attention.

It was Marcus.

They opened the rear passenger door for him.

“Look,” he said, “this has already been a pretty screwed-up day. Can we please get out of here… or would you rather wait for your friends to come back?”

Stephen and Amanda exited the vehicle. Marcus was already weaving his way through the cars toward the river.

Amanda began to follow.

“Wait,” Stephen said, staring after the departing horde. “What about Charlie?”

Amanda turned and spit like a viper, “Fuck Charlie! I hope they eat him nice and slow.”

~~~

Next Episode 19-4

Previous Episode 19-2

~~~

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__________________________________________
“Chapter 19-3: Get the Guns” Copyright © 2014, 2015 Scott Scherr. From the Novel “Don’t Feed The Dark, Book One: Southbound Nightmares”.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission by the author.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

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