The drive is one I have made many, many times, though never before in something that still mostly resembles a school bus. We are sitting on interstate 57 south, just outside of Marion, Illinois. We didn't go this far last time, having taken an earlier exit to get to Courtney and Steve's faster. I don't know if this mess was here before, but we certainly have to deal with it now.
From one side of the road to the other, from tree to tree, is a huge pile of debris. Cars, trees, bodies, furniture, and what looks like the contents of several semi trucks. Oh, and the semi trucks themselves. We are about a hundred yards away, staring at it, all of us sort of struck dumb. Dave is mumbling to himself, tracing the outlines of parts of the pile. This is a good sign, and a frightening one. It means he is actively using that overactive brain of his to come up with a solution. Bad, though, because I have seen him doing the same thing immediately prior to something going incredibly, if creatively, wrong. I have to wonder which way this will go.
The plan is pretty simple. We go to Marion, find my sister and her family, get them out. We plan to keep all of them hunkered down behind one of the armored sections until we get to relative safety, at least, my sister and the kids. I won't turn away her husband if he wants to help us out. Every body helps. But neither will I blame him if he wants to stay hidden and safe. They haven't had an easy time of it, especially with four kids.
Dave is fiddling with some supplies in the back of the bus. I can't see what he's doing, but he's still mumbling, and I'm pretty sure there is math involved. A chill is running up my back.
After we get out of Marion, we head toward Carterville. This is where Courtney and Steve are from, and I have some more family there. Jess and I couldn't find any of them last time around, but a twenty minute drive around is the minimum I need to keep myself happy. I need to try. I doubt that we will find anyone after this much time, but hope is one of those parts of the human mind that could reasonably be described as rationalized insanity.
On from there to Carbondale, the place where I was born. I don't have any plans to stop by the hospital where I was delivered, but I do have some hefty fears that I will meet my maker there. Because while it's not a huge place, it does have a frighteningly dense population, due to the location of Southern Illinois University, smack in the middle of it. There are a ton of students there, or rather were. Now most of them are roaming around, hungry and vacant shells. Hmm. I just described most college students. Alright, let me add: also dead.
Carbondale is swarming, from what we have been able to gather. We plan on finding Treesong if we can, and if he has kept true to what I know of him, he will have tried to help as many people as possible. I don't really want to drive this thing packed with people all the way back home, but I'm not planning on turning away people if I can help it. Unless we run out of room, we'll keep on letting them on. It's a problem I hope we have to deal with. I am much more inclined to think that we'll be hard pressed to find anyone in Carbondale that doesn't have a hankering for my brains.
Oh my. Dave is driving us toward the pile. He has something sitting next to him that really makes my blood run cold. Though there seems to be more to it, the device contains two elements that, together, really make me wish that I had left him at home.
He has parked us about thirty yards away, and he is running toward the roadblock, carrying the damn thing with him. Jamming it into the pile...fiddling with it...running back like Satan himself is poking him in the ass. He's got us moving backwards pretty fast.
Wow. That's a big explosion. I didn't think a pipe bomb strapped to a propane tank would have that sort of power. We're about a thousand feet away, and shrapnel is tinkling down on the roof. The smoke is clearing away, and I see a big, clear space we can drive through. Guess we just have to wait for the fire to die down a bit.
Dave is looking back at us, a grin stretched across his face. The rest of us are staring at him like he's from the moon or something. I really hope that if I die on this trip, I get killed by zombies. Because falling prey to my brother's love of explosives is just too stupid a way to die.
We're rolling forward, heading toward the exit. Here we go.