Saturday, February 5, 2011

Homemade Hero

Zip ties. Duct tape. Lots of paper. Extra clothes. Blankets. Sleeping bag. Wet floor signs. Wood paneling torn from the walls and desk.

Rolls of toilet paper soaked in flammable cleaning fluids. A broom handle broken at the base. 

This was my armor, these were our weapons. Jess climbed onto the roof of the rest area from the inside. Thank god the office window was high enough that she could reach up and snag the eave. She almost didn't make it up, but the tiny bathroom in the office has its own exhaust vent, and she was able to grab the pipe coming out of the roof and pull herself up. I swung the broom handle at the heads of the few zombies that came close. They didn't crowd the back of the building as much, not reckoning on us coming out that way. 

When her hand floated down, I slung the backpack full of toilet paper and cleaner toward it. She gave me the all clear, and I made my way into the lobby. 

I had to have looked like and idiot. I was wearing every stitch of extra clothing we'd brought inside with us. Heavy sweater, winter coat. On top of that we'd layered paper thickly, held together with duct tape. Everything from copy paper to those brochures that are all over rest areas ("Welcome to Michigan!"). It was strong, but left my joints exposed. It had to, since the weight of it reduced my mobility to a frightening degree. Over that, sections of desk paneling, the wet floor signs, and pieces of anything flat and hard were taped and zip tied all over me. In my right hand I carried my makeshift spear--the broom handle. On my left forearm one of the plastic doors from a bathroom stall (thankfully those cheap half-stalls. I couldn't carry a full sized one) was waiting, zip ties through messily drilled holes for me to hold it like a shield. 

I went to the front door, and waited with my thumb and forefinger on the lock. As soon as I unlocked it, the smart zombies would start shaking the doors. They opened outward, so it would only take a second for them to get at me. I waited, sweating in my horrible makeshift armor, wishing distantly that we'd found a football helmet or something. My head was exposed, though I looked like I was wearing a turtleneck made of gray spaghetti. It was a mop head, pulled tight and tied off. Sexy, I know. 

Two loud thumps came from the roof. That was the ten second warning. I set myself, raised my "spear", and when the last thump came, watched as arcs of flame came down into the crowd of zombies at the door. Several of the rolls of toilet paper unfurled as they flew, loosened and rerolled by Jess and I to give them a chance to spread out when thrown, even soaked with chemicals. 

My eyes darted to the CR-V parked twenty feet away. It was a short distance, but an impossible one through the crowd before me. The trek started looking more likely as the zombies panicked at the rain of fire from above them. They started to move away as Jess pelted them with flaming paper, making a rough corridor through to the SUV. 

I threw the bolt, and the noise got the attention of several zombies that were still close. They rushed the doors, which were balanced to open easily, and I waited until they were almost to it before I kicked the hell out of it. The doors flew open and smashed them in the face. The force of it, along with the surprise, knocked them backwards. My heavy frame barreling into them, "shield" held out like a battering ram, took them to the ground. 

Honestly, I don't remember the run to the car. I recall slinging my hands about, possibly hitting zombies with the stall door. I know I slung my broom handle at some heads, but I can't imagine that I did more than irritate one or two of them. When I reached the CR-V, I glanced down at the keys, duct-taped to the front of my awesome, awesome armor. Good thing I looked before I grabbed for them, because that little glance saved my life. 

That smiling bastard, the smarty who had been messing with my head, was under the car. I saw his hand shoot out, and I pulled my foot back. He squirmed on his back far more quickly than I was comfortable with, trying to work his way free and get hold of me. I was so focused on him that I didn't notice the zombies crowding around me. Only seconds since I'd run from the doors, yet they were already swarming. 

I felt hands tearing at the paper and plastic covering me. I bent over, trying to get my head away from them, and the smiling zombie reached up toward my face. I didn't think about it; I just slammed the stall door down on his head as hard as I could. It caught him right in the mouth, and I could hear the hollow crack as I broke his spine, probably his jaw, and apparently severed what passed for his spinal cord. He stopped moving at once. 

I whipped my hands out, trying to create space as my body whirled. The stall door cracking into the faces of the dead, the broom handle cutting the air until it connected with the eye socket of one of them. It got ripped from my hand, as did the stall door. I really saw them, then: a dozen of them right near me, many dozens more still running from the fire. Perhaps fifty making their way from nearby groups, realizing that prey was attainable at last. 

I did the only thing I could do, then--I ran. I didn't go very fast because of all the shit taped and tied to me, but I pumped my legs for all they were worth. The initial burst put a good twenty feet between me and the zombies as I moved away from them. I started pulling at my armor as I moved, shredding tape and shrugging off the zip ties that looped around me. Every pound I shed let me move a little faster, and that meant more space between me and them. 

I stuck the keys in my mouth, clamped my teeth down on the leather of the novelty keyring I'd gotten from a renaissance festival. I made a long arc around, back the way I came, and went toward the building. Jess saw me coming but didn't have a lot of options, so she just watched. I ran toward her with every ounce of speed I could muster, pulled the keys from my mouth, and chucked them at her. I heard her yell something to me as I tore off toward the highway, but I couldn't catch it. I hope it was "I love you." but I'm leaning towards "You're an idiot."

I tried to get as many of them to follow me as possible. Jess can run with the best of them, and she's smarter than I am--she unlocked the goddamn car with the remote unlocker, which I was too stupid to do. I'm hoping she finds me soon, because I'm getting pretty cramped where I am. Which is in the back seat of a car, on the floorboard. 

I ran down the highway as fast as could, trying to keep the zombies close enough behind me that they didn't lose interest while staying far enough ahead that I could try out the doors of abandoned vehicles all over the road. I was about a quarter mile from the rest area, my lungs about to burst, when I found one. I jumped inside, pulled the door shut, and locked all the doors. Thankfully there was a variety of junk in it--I reached up and pulled a ton of it down on me, including a blanket, which I am under right now, typing on my phone. It's been about thirty minutes. Jess has responded to my texts, and it just waiting on the crowd around the car I'm in to disperse. She's able to drive through the crowds, but she can't do it through the one around this car. At least, not if I want to get out of it. She can't risk hitting it. 

It shouldn't be long. The zombies can't see me, and unless a smarty saw me come in here, they'll give up after a while. They're vicious and hungry, but the memory of your average zombie is terrible...

Escape (mostly) successful. Now, to wait.

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