Mildred and Jim left for Camp St. Teresa today. They are anxious to see their son. We were all sad to see them go, they were like surrogate parents to us. At least there’ll be more food and room until we’re ready to leave again. This place is the safest we’ve found. It took a lot of work to get it this way, but we’ve had zero encounters for a few weeks now. Not that the Zeds have given up, it’s just that they can’t get to us. For now.
After the falls, I needed to get back to the fire station, but the truck needed to be fixed. I was just as happy to walk the quarter-mile back to the station if it meant getting away from the fetid funk that was wafting from the pile of corpses at the bottom of the falls.
Mel was already shoulders deep into the engine compartment and Tim leaned against the front wheel-well and lit-up a smoke.
“Ya awnt un?” Tim spat through pursed lips, offering me the pack while a cigarette dangled from his mouth.
“No thanks.” I said as I waved the pack off. “Hey Mel, how much longer you think this is gonna take to fix?”
“It’ll take as long as it takes.” came Mel’s muffled answer.
“Brilliant.” I whispered under my breath.
I sat down in the passenger seat with the door open. The windshield was splattered with blood and bits of bone and skin. I thought even if Mel can get this hunk of crap running again, we won’t be able to see anything, so I decided to clean it off. I reached over to turn the key and hit the windshield wiper. The blood smeared, making things even worse. I pushed the fluid button. Nothing. I pushed it again, for longer, thinking maybe I didn’t hold it long enough. Still nothing. “Great. This is going to be a manual job.” I said to myself. While I leaned over to hit the switch, I accidentally grazed the horn.
*OWW! You stupid sonovabitch!!!!! What the hell!?!?!?*
After I jumped out of the cab, I ran around to the front of the truck. Mel was holding the top rear of his half-bald head. I could see gash from where I stood. Tim had jumped back, startled at first, but was now building to a gut-busting roar of laughter.
“Damn, Mel, I’m so sorry! I was trying to clean the windshield and accidentally hit the horn.”
“If you’da ASKED, I would have told you there ain’t no juice.”
“I know that now. I’m sorry, let me get something for your head. It’s bleeding pretty badly. I once got a small gash in my head and the scalp is one of the worst…”
“Oh quit babbling and git the first-aid kit outta the glovebox.”
“Okay. Sorry again, Mel, I wasn’t trying to be funny or anyth…”
I ran back around to the passenger side door and grabbed the kit. The next noise I heard startled me worse than the horn. It was Mel’s blood-curdling scream. Tim was still recovering from his hysterical laughter as I ran back around to the front. Mel was laying parallel with the front bumper. His head, neck and shoulder had been ripped to shreds by the upper-half of one the zombies from the pile. Apparently he had slowly made his was out of the pile and pulled Mel down and finished the job I started!
I screamed “Tim! Gimme the axe!”
Tim was the picture of seriousness now and he handed me the fireaxe.
After I beheaded the zed, Tim and I looked at each other. Mel made some gurgling sounds and reached out for us, we could read the panic in his eyes.
Tim and I both knew what we had to do.
Tim reached for the axe and told me to go ahead and pack up.
I turned to walk away and heard the crunch of Tim introducing the axe to Mel’s head. Tim took a few seconds to let it sink in, took a deep, deep breath and finished the job with three more solid whacks, just to be on the safe side. Tim later told me Mel would have wanted it that way.