Thursday, July 16, 2015



Episode 1: Herding cats

Setup: We’re one week into the zombie apocalypse. Our zombie-fighting hero, Derek Grace, has been put in charge of a grab-and-go mission at the local Wal-Mart while others take on the liquor store, and other places of provisioning. Hijinks ensue.

Gitmo brings me my phone. “I’ll need a little more time. The liquor store is a few blocks over and they’ve got it barred up seven ways to Sunday. Give me a call if you don’t hear from me in 45 minutes. Everyone else should be done in about half an hour. You might want to take longer here, yourself.”

“Yeah, we probably do,” I say, and so much for that in and out in a minute bullshit. I figured as much, especially when it comes to all this frozen meat. Unless there are herds of deer and other wildlife roaming these Kansas fields that I don’t know about, meat will be hard to come by for a while. It’s this or canned food from here on out.

Gitmo and his crew are the last to pull away. It’s just me and Big Yellow, a white pickup truck, and the lavender lowrider truck with the purple flames on the side. My crew includes the tall, scowly-faced Goth kid from dinner last night with the katana at his back. A shorter, compact young man with long, stringy blonde hair squeezed beneath a trilby hat carries a crossbow at his back. I almost miss the little girl between them—actually a very small young woman with her breasts mashed together beneath her too-tight black blouse in case you mistake her age; she’s got a machete on her belt. The closest I’ve got to a normal looking kid wears a Kansas City Chiefs jersey and matching Snapback hat.

“That’s expensive gear to be wearing on what’s eventually turning into a bug hunt,” I tell him.

“These are all the clothes I got, man.”

 “I’ve got to pick up some threads of my own. You wanna come with?”

“Shit, man!”


“No offense,” he says grinning, “but I would never shop here.”

“Suit yourself.”

“A humble leader who shops with the peasants,” smirks the Goth kid, waving his sword about his head in short loops. “He can take on three citizens at once!”

“So let’s hear your mighty saga, then.”

The kid hisses and turns away from me. The stringy-haired man in the trilby shrugs. “He was actually pretty good last night. Just so you know, Mr. Kerch’s comment about seeing you take on three at once sounded pretty silly to the professionals.”

“The professionals?”

“Hey, man, it’s serious business. You heard what the man said about last night. We were taking on a lot more than three at once to rack up that score.”

“All right, then, so what are we doing here?”

“We gotta get all the frozen stuff out of the freezers before it’s all thawed out. So we back up the trucks, I reckon.”

“Out front? That makes no sense. We need to be closer to where the freezers actually are.”

“You the bossman,” he says.

“Is this your first time doing this?”

“Individual runs. Not coordidnated-like.”

“Great. Let’s get these trucks over to the loading dock on the grocery side. You’ve got gear to break locks with, right?”

“Well, duh!”

“Let’s get going, then.”

Trilby hat gets into the white truck with the guy in the Chiefs hat, who drives the white truck over. The lavender lowrider belongs to Russ, one of the herders. “Shit, I don’t even know why they want us out here,” he says. “We scrubbed ‘em out of here real good last night.”

“You heard the man. He wants another thousand gone today, another thousand tomorrow, and another thousand the day after that. We gotta clear ‘em all out, no way around it.”

“I saw what happened to Evans’ boy yesterday. They pulled him through the busted window. He was squirtin’ blood all over where he was cut up and those things had their mouths open like they were catchin’ rain.  Goddamn, I can’t believe these were people once.”

“I dunno. They make perfect sense to me.”

“Shit, you may be right,” he says, starting his little truck. “Like my boy Marcus used to say, ‘Humanity two-point-motherfuckin’-Oh.’ People minus the polite civilized bullshit. They just step right up and bite your fucking face off.” Russ puts his truck in gear. “Take care, man.” He drives off.

I climb into the Big Yellow Truck. “Hi,” says Krystal from the passenger seat. 

“What? Jesus! I take it you rode over with Brandon?”

“You knew we were going to be here. I didn’t expect them to put you in charge so early, though. So sad what happened to Mr. Evans’ boy.”

“Yeah. Look, don’t take this the wrong way, but what are you doing here?”

“Someone’s gotta look out for you. You don’t know these people.”

“I’m getting an idea.”

“Besides, they didn’t leave you nearly enough people to clean out that freezer. I’m pretty strong, you know.”

“All right, then. Welcome aboard.”

We drive to the back. I’m almost relieved to see the two deaders coming in the other side of the parking lot. I know we’re not completely alone out here. It’s just a matter of waiting for the party to realize the food trucks (so to speak) have pulled up.

The man walks unsteadily, as if drunk. He sways from side to side, his weight on one leg, then the other. He toddles laboriously behind the thin, intense-looking woman who is hobbled only by the broken stiletto heel on one shoe. She makes a loping, up-down motion as she staggers along, not as awkward as the man following her, but with grim, I-will-have-this purpose. The gore is dried thick and stiff down her power-suit ensemble, with a glistening fresh sheen adding another layer to the man-sized scab accessorizing her white blouse and navy-blue skirt. Her sloppy seconds cake the pastel yellow button-down shirt of her wobbly companion.

I’m wondering whether to back the truck in first or jump out and address this now when the Goth kid comes out with his katana. I stop the truck to let him cross the lot towards the two. He draws his blade from the scabbard along his back, makes a show of whooshing it around over his head.

NEXT: Part 2: “As if it didn’t stink enough out here already”

Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2015 by L. Roy Aiken.

All photos from Google Images.