Dale and Ken had sat in silence in their Durango listening to the drama unfold. Neither one of them had dared to interfere or make suggestions as they had heard the desperate voices over the cackling of the radio. Once or twice they had each uttered ‘shit’ or ‘dammit,’ but otherwise had been silent.
When the word came through that Linda and Bette were safe, Ken let out a sigh of relief and collapsed against the dashboard. “Oh, God, I was praying so hard I thought my head would explode.”
“Well, at least they didn’t get ate,” Dale decided. “Guess that proves the Baptists wrong, eh? The hot lesbians live to kiss another day.”
“Yeah, I know,” Dale answered, winking. “And that’s why you like me.”
* * * * * In Bill and Katarina’s Durango, they too had listened in silence, their fingers intertwined. It was far too easy to imagine themselves in the place of the two women. The thought of losing each other was too much to bear.
At last, when they knew that the women were rescued, they hugged each other tightly.
“I love you, Kit-Kat,” he answered, giving her a gruff kiss.
“Durango Two, prepare to depart,” Kevin’s voice said through the radio static.
“That’s us, honey,” Bill said, kissing her one more time. He ran his hand over her long red braid then sat back in the driver’s seat and steadied his nerves. Shifting into drive, he looked up at the helicopter drifting into view. “Let’s hope it goes better for us.”
“I’m praying something awfully fierce,” Katarina answered softly. “But if it’s our time, I just pray that the Good Lord gives us time to do what we need to.”
With sadness in his eyes, Bill nodded.
* * * * * “We almost lost Bette and Linda,” Travis said to Katie and Juan as they entered the communication center. “But they’re okay.”
“Runners. Sounds like they ended up with more than they expected and there were some miscalculations. They’re on the helicopter now. A little battered, but okay.” Travis ran his hands over his hair and then rubbed his face. “They’re okay.”
“And they got a lot of zombies to go off in the right direction away from us,” Peggy added from her post before the radios. “So that’s good.”
“So the plan is working.” Katie sat down in a chair and ran her hand gently over her large stomach.
“Shit,”Juan said again. He was perched on the edge of a table. “I told my crazy ass cousin not to go.”
“You couldn’t stop her from going with Bette,” Katie reminded him.
“Yeah, I know,” Juan answered. He sighed and rubbed his day old stubble.
“Bill and Katarina,” Peggy replied. One of her well-manicured hands rested against the ear piece of her headset. “They just got the word to move ahead.”
Katie silently reached out to Travis and he took her hand. Giving her a small encouraging smile, he squeezed her fingers.
“Bill knows those roads. He’ll be fine,” Travis assured her.
Katie gave him a hopeful, yet solemn look.
* * * * * Don’t scream don’t scream don’t scream don’t scream don’t sceam...Katarina’s mantra repeated in her head in rapid succession.
The Durango idled at the next crossroads waiting for the lumbering zombies to grow closer. There were so many of the hungry dead. They clogged up the road, filled the ditches and extended into the trees.
Despite the air conditioner being set to recycle the air in the Durango, the stench was growing unbearable.
Thousands of outstretched hands reached toward their vehicle as the zombies marched toward them. They were gray and somewhat blackened by the sun. Their bristled hair stood up around their heads in the humidity and heat. Their clothes were almost unrecognizable as they clung to their decomposing flesh.
Men and women, young and old, shambled toward them. There were no signs of runners and that was a relief.
“Dear God, Bill, one is in a wheelchair,” Katarina gasped.
A terribly eaten zombie was rolling its way down the road. It was being swept along by the other bodies around it.
Bill arched his neck to see, then began to laugh his huge bellowing chuckle. “Shit, babe, don’t that beat all.”
A tiny little boy, a cap still on his head, baseball bat in one hand, his cherubic face somehow still cute in death, reached the Durango and banged on the door with his fist. Katarina leaned over into the backseat to look down at him. In another time, this little guy could be any little leaguer banging on his Mom’s SUV after a hard game. But this child didn’t whine or smile, it hissed and growled.
The boy began to hit the Durango with his baseball bat.
Bill watched as more zombies came within a few feet of the Durango. “I agree.”
Slowly, the Durango moved forward onto the side road that would head into the west and away from the fort.
Almost in unison, the zombies turned to follow, the little boy dragging his baseball bat on the asphalt.
* * * * * “So why are lesbians hot but gay men aren’t to you Neanderthal straight men?” Ken asked. He felt contrary. He sat in the passenger seat, arms across his chest, staring out the window.
“I have it on good authority that I’m hot,” Ken responded. “By many many women and men.”
“Eh,” was all Dale said, then shrugged. He was grinning. He enjoyed giving Ken a hard time.
“I’m so not eh. I am anything but eh. I am a good and solid hunk of a man.
Before I came out of the closet I had so many women after me, I was a stud.” Ken frowned at Dale. “A total stud after I came out as well. It is not my freaking fault the world died and did not provide an adequate pool of gay men for me.”
“I’m sure there are guys in the fort who are gay but aren’t out,” Dale answered.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure of it. My money is that you’re not the only Nancy boy.”
Ken sighed. “Well, they’re so deep in the closet I can’t find them.”
“It’ll happen. When the time is right,” Dale assured him.
“Are you sure you’re not gay?” Ken arched an eyebrow at him.
“Yep. Tried it...kinda...once. Well, actually I thought she was a girl. She was a guy.”
“Yeah,” Dale nodded. “She was damn hot, too. Until you know...that.”
“You brute! You turned her down over that?”
“Hey, I tried. I just couldn’t.” Dale looked at Ken very solemnly. “I did try.
Ken let out a soft sigh. “I know. I feel the same way about girls. Love Lenore. She’s my girl. If she were a guy, maybe she’d be my groove thing, but...”
“Sometimes love ain’t enough,” Dale sighed. “But at least I got laid last night.”
“Okay, if you insist!” Ken joked, then saw the look on Dale’s face. Turning, Ken gasped as he saw a horde of zombies emerging from the trees next to them.
“They shouldn’t be here!” Dale grabbed the radio. “We got hundreds of zombies at our location. A massive horde. Do you read me?”
In a panic, Ken hit the Lock button and the doors all locked.
“We got zombies,” Dale answered, then muttered, “Oh, shit” and tossed the mouthpiece to Ken. Shifting gears, the Durango lurched forward as the zombies began to encircle it. The vehicle smashed into a few undead then rolled down the street out of their grasp.
“Zombies everywhere. Coming out of the trees on both sides of us. Oh, shit, and up the road. I thought you got them to turn to the west,” Ken screamed into the radio.
“Pull back,” Kevin ordered. “We must have missed some in the recon.”
“I should say so,” Ken snapped back. “Because, brotha, they are all over the freaking place.”
Dale shifted gears again and began to turn the big vehicle around. The narrow road didn’t allow a full u-turn, so he had to back up to readjust the angle again.