I guess I should have told Kurt and Major Noose where I was going, but why spoil the surprise? On our way out of town, I spied a bus that looked suspiciously like one of the ones we had at the bug out location. Judging by the camouflage shreds of clothes around several bodies, whatever had remained of Major Nooses rag tag band had come into town looking for her.
Several hours later, both Kurt and Major Noose were startled when I pulled into the track leading to our bug out location.
"What are we doing here?" Kurt squeaked when I parked the pick-up and got out.
"Supplies," I muttered as I walked through the ruined gate.
Looked like no one had taken the time to repair the gate, which still lay in ruins. Spent bullet casings lay all over the place. The walls of the shipping containers that ringed the garden were riddled with bullet holes and smeared with blood. Two bloody skeletons lay propped against one wall, a z-head sitting not too far away. I knew the zombie, or at least, I knew who she had been. I left Kurt and Major Noose by the gate while I went over to the z-head to confirm my suspicions.
I was right. It was Brittany Joyce, the head cheerleader. In life, she had been obsessive about her appearance, her makeup and her figure. Now she looked a mess. Her black hair was tangled and matted with dirt, grease and blood. Her finger nails were broken, the paint chipping. She wasn't wearing makeup, her face was a pale grey and badly scratched, her once bright eyes dull and her Dentist enhanced white teeth were black with congealed blood. A gaping wound marred her neck. Her stomach, once so trim and provocative, was now grotesquely swollen by the flesh she had gorged on. It was so large it had burst the buttons of the pyjama top she wore and it swelled past her knees. Her left breast was exposed, its nipple obliterated by a bullet. When she saw me, she tried to get up, but the weight of the flesh in her stomach made it difficult for her to rise. I drew the Colt Python, the one I had taken from Kurt's father, out of its holster and levelled it at Brittany's forehead. She started swiping her hands at my outstretched arm, moaning pitifully.
For some reason I can't explain, I said "You always wanted to blow me away. Looks like it's the other way round."
I fired. What remained of Brittany's head flew back and made a sickening crunching noise against the container wall. With a shudder, I realised I had taken a sick pleasure in what I had done. I holstered my gun and looked around. Major Noose and Kurt hadn't moved from the gate. We waited. No other z-heads showed up. I scanned the garden. One of the buses we had kitted out was still there. Judging by the tire tracks, whatever soldiers had remained here when the horde Brittany was a part of arrived had fled in it. I checked the bus. Its tank was full and none of the supplies were touched. So, chances are, they were either hoping to return once the horde had left or they were in such a rush to leave, they just didn't care about the supplies. I left the bus and walked up to Kurt and Major Noose, who still hadn't moved.
"Let's check inside," I said.
"It—it didn't look like this when we left," Major Noose said. I shrugged.
"Maybe someone forgot to secure the gate after the second band of troops left."
I turned and strode towards the entrance to the shipping container.
It looked like Kurt and I were not the only ones who had pigged out on a food supply. The pantry was a mess. Food packs had been torn open and their contents strewn across the place. The armoury was untouched and the beds looked like they hadn't been slept in. The floor of the wash area was slick with water and all the towels were damp.
"Not another wash room," Kurt moaned.
"You'll miss them soon," I promised him.
He shrugged and started gathering the wet towels, putting them into a tub. He started pumping fresh water into the tub. In response to the looks Major Noose and I gave him he said "What? I'm cleaning them. If this is the last chance we might have for a bath, I'm taking it, and we need clean towels."
Major Noose and I left him at it while we did a proper inventory of the base. While we were working in the armoury, debating what we could take, I asked her a question that had been bugging me.
"Do you have a husband, or is that wedding ring just for show?"
She paused in what she was doing and looked away, avoiding my eye.
"I had a husband," she answered eventually. "He was killed in action. A roadside bomb in Iraq."
I didn't say anything for a while.
"Why all the questions?"
"You know my story. I'm just curious as to what motivates you, other than survival."
"I have four sons. Jordan is the oldest. He's in the army too. Last I heard from him, he had been part of the task force sent to evacuate New York. My other sons, Patrick, Josh and Matthew, they were staying with their grandparents, my parents, in Harrisburg. It's a small town in Louisiana."
I decided not to say anything about Jordan. I didn't know if Major Noose knew anything about New York. Last I had heard about it, it had turned into a bloodbath. Mike the trucker, roving reporter for Radio-Z, had said the barricades had been overrun and most of the people killed. To give me time to think, I checked the barrel of a Mossberg 500 for the second time.
"Tomorrow, when we hit out, we head south. We'll need directions to Harrisburg," I said. I am almost certain I saw Major Noose smile for a second, and then it was gone.
That night we feasted on burgers, fried onions and Reggae Reggae sauce, specially prepared by Kurt. While Major Noose and I loaded what weapons we had thought necessary, Kurt had washed the towels, dried them, gotten the food loaded and had started to cook dinner. That kid was fast. He had also gotten the radio going again, so Radio-Z blared in the background. No one said it, but Karan was sounding desperate. The reason for her distress became apparent half an hour in.
"I am sorry to inform you, but the infection has spread into Canada. The Canadian Military has taken to bombing any civilian convoys which approach the border in an effort to contain the infection, but they are unable to man their entire border. There had been rioting in the streets of Montreal and Québec against the wave of American refugees. Several American citizens have lost their lives. Mexico have laid anti-tank mines the length of their border after an official announcement that they are no longer taking refugees."
Karen paused and took a deep breath.
"I am said to say people, but Radio-Z will soon be going off the air. Our generators are running low on fuel and we have enemies pounding at our doors. Mike the trucker said he will be keeping in touch via his CB radio, so tune into him. I wish to thank all our listeners. I have some final messages to give out. Freddy, your wife has been in touch. She is at her mothers. If you get this message, join her there. Fiona..."
I tuned out for a while, until Karen gave out the final message.
"Finally, Andrew, you Uncle Jeb has been in contact. He is met up with your parents and brothers. They are in good form. The Doctor and the wild chick are ok. They are using agreed route four. All the number two's will be used. He said you will understand if you get this message."
I grinned so wide it hurt my face. I was so elated, I missed the questioning looks I was being given.
"So people, this is goodbye. My team and I have been playing a game to find our 'Zombie Killing Song.' So, here it is, the most hit upon song in our iPod shuffle, by Will-i-am, featuring Britney Spears, Scream and Shout. Goodbye and be safe."
The music began to play, and somewhere in the elation I felt at Uncle Jeb's message, I felt pity for Karen and her team, locked in her studio with z-heads pounding at the entrance.
Kurt and Major Noose fired so many questions at me; I began to get a headache. I searched through a drawer and drew out a map which I laid across the table.
"Okay, first things first. In the event of some major apocalyptic event, my father and Uncle Jeb agreed on four routes that would bring us to what may be a safe location should we have to abandon our homes and the bug out locations," I said, tracing four roads highlighted in red, blue, green and yellow.
"Route four is the yellow one. You'll like this one, Major. It goes south into Louisiana, before turning east. As for the number two's, every twenty miles, for the first one hundred and twenty miles, we have stashes of supplies. They are numbered one, two and three. Twenty miles in, number one. Forty miles, number two. Sixty, number three. Begin again. Eighty, number one. One hundred, number two. One hundred and twenty, number three. All the stashes contain ammo, food and water. After that, each stash contains something essential. Number two has medical supplies and extra food."
"What about numbers one and three?" Major Noose said.
"One has extra fuel and bedding material. Three has extra water and melee weapons."
Major Noose looked impressed.
"Everyone, bed early, we move at first light," she said.
"You know, I'm beginning to like the way you think," I said.
Major Noose cocked an eyebrow at me.
It was hard to believe that only eight days ago, I had slept in this bed with Richard. Now Kurt was snuggled close. He had refused to sleep anywhere else, and I was glad. There was something comforting about his presence. I wouldn't admit it, but I was scared. When I realised who, no, what, David was, I was terrified. Kurt was solid, Kurt was real. I could feel every breath he took and every move he made.
"Hey," Kurt said sleepily. "You still thinking about last night?"
"Yeah," I said.
"You still don't want to talk about it?"
"No," I admitted.
There must have been something about the way I answered him that got Kurt concerned. He reached up and swept a strand of hair out of my eyes, then leaned forward and kissed me on the lips. It was soft, and brief, but it made me feel better.
"You told me once that you would never leave me. I'm returning it," he said and kissed me again.
We fell asleep hugging.
Authors Note: Hope you enjoy the chapter. Okay people, time for a little audience participation. The challenge? Chose your own "Zombie Killing Song." So far, we have "The Bad Touch" by the Bloodhound gang (courtesy of my beta, freddyburn). "Monster" by Paramore (courtesy of Mattii-Richards). As for myself and my friend Jordan D? "Scream and Shout" by Will-i-am and Britney Spears.