Here’s a link to the page with the links to the first two series. The series follow a chronological narrative, but it’s not like you absolutely have to read those first. Our tale opens on the morning of the first full day of the New Weird Order, and Derek Grace knows there’s no safety in the city. He’s not even sure of Tanner, the only other living soul in the luxury hotel they were locked up in while the police and National Guard were overwhelmed outside.
Still, you do what you gotta do, and oftentimes it’s with people you’d rather not be doing it with. Especially when SHTF.
All of Kansas City is pouring out of the side streets to swarm us.
I turn right, hoping I can round the block. Wherever these things were hiding as the sun came up, they’re out, drawn to the hum of our engine, the roar of Tanner’s gunfire, the cries of their fellow walkers. I see them coming out from around the buildings, stumbling down the streets I’m crossing, ambling towards us down the otherwise empty avenues.
I glance over to see Tanner trying to figure out the GPS over the bouncing and swerving. “Kansas City International Airport!” I say while pulling hard right to avoid a group of three lunging for us. I avoid overcorrecting and hitting the lamp post by jumping the curb at the corner. That was my first right turn. Fortunately this street is clear. I sprint down this block and skid into my next right, knowing full well I won’t be as lucky on this last run.
“Keep straight,” the GPS says.
All of Kansas City is pouring out of the side streets to swarm us. Three or more will be bold enough to punch through the glass to get at us. I imagine the rest tearing at the sheets of safety glass, heedless of injury (hell, it just pisses them off more), reaching in with lacerated hands and pulling us out by whatever those hands grab first. How many mouths, how many sets of teeth will cover our bodies, from our faces, eyes, ears, arms, legs? How much will we actually suffer, our beings torn away a single mouthful at a time, before death takes mercy on us?
“You strapped in?” I ask Tanner.
“I recommend picking up the pace, if you don’t mind,” he says.
“All right, then. We’re going to hit some people.”
I press hard on the accelerator and I’m good for the first half of the first block. A man in a suit with his bloodied shirttails hanging comically over his slacks steps out to meet the Tank. He thumps off the front quarter panel, shaking the frame of the SUV as it rolls along the sunny, stinking street.
“Keep straight,” the GPS reminds us. “Prepare to turn right.”
I swerve left but hit two more with the right quarter panel. One spins away, the other goes under the tire. The moaning of the massing dead is like one long sustained shout we can hear even in the nearly airtight cabin of the luxury SUV. We’re halfway through the second block but the mob is thick in front of us now. I can’t see where to turn.
“Turn right, one hundred yards,” the GPS says.
“Don’t slow down!” Tanner says.
If I hit these things full force I’ll trigger the airbags. I cut my speed just enough to bring the ones in front under. The automatic all-wheel drive kicks in and we’re grinding and squishing and breaking the bodies beneath (God, they’d better be) run-flat tires. We rise up on one corner, then fall. We roll up, sag down as we pulverize select pockets of flesh and bone, then roll up another, plunging nose down again over the uneven terrain of howling corpses.
The interior of the Luxury Tank is dark for all the diseased once-people slapping and pounding at the glass. I can barely see over the hood for all the angry cadavers clawing at the front of the vehicle. I hear the strain like cracking ice in the driver’s side window in the rear. I press just a little further on the accelerator. We lurch forward. But only a little. Then we’re pushed back again.
The sound of moaning, snarling dead people grows louder in the near-airtight space of the cab, humming in our very teeth. The side windows are bloody from the fists pounding on them. It won’t be long.
I floor it.
They back away at the roar of the engine enough for me to lurch forward again. The nose of the vehicle dips as we clear the latest mound of bodies. One of the tires is spinning but the rest are working. This angles us to the left a little.
“Turn right,” scolds the GPS.
I cut the wheels left and right. The snarling once-people back away from either corner. They seem to have thought they were safe where they were but now they can’t predict how I’m going. The ones directly up front are crazed with hunger, rage, God-knows, and still go under—except one bad boy with a neck tattoo who has thrown himself up on the hood. I brake hard. He slides back but holds on. I throw the shifter into reverse.
“What are you doing?” says Tanner.
I stomp the pedal again but the crowd behind me is like a wall. All four tires spin uselessly on the slick, ruined flesh beneath us. I hear a sharp crack over the sound of whirring tires. I look back and the window on the other side is crazed with tiny lines. The only thing keeping the rear window intact is all those hunger-mad dead people pressing in from behind. The sheer force and mass of all their bodies make it harder for the ones closest to us to hammer at it with their fists.
“Just get us out of this!” Tanner says. “We’ll shake him when we’re clear!”
“Yes, sir,” I say. I put the shifter back into drive and floor it again. I see what looks to be a slight break to the right and cut the wheel that way.
We jolt away just in time for another loud crack. A wide, jagged shard of the rear window on the driver’s side bows in. An arm thrusts through the gap, working at the wedge of safety glass, peeling it back.
There's more where this came from in
BLEEDING KANSAS, from SEVERED PRESS.
And THAT story continues in
GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.
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Coming in 2015:
THE WRONG KIND OF DEAD.