From the pages of BLEEDING KANSAS, Part 1 of THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER, from SEVERED PRESS
Episode 2: “As if it didn’t stink enough out here already.”
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. Hijinks ensue.
“That’s Trenton,” says Krystal. “He wants everyone to call him Oni-bara now. Says it means ‘Devil Rose.’ More like Devil Dork! I never understood those anime freaks.”
The woman makes a course correction to intercept Devil Dork. An angry and wanting moan rises from her gore-crusted lips. Her companion adjusts likewise, rocking sideways, focused on the tall, pale young man wearing the long black coat in the middle of May in humid, sun-baked Kansas.
Devil Dork brings the blade down to one side of the woman’s neck. She falls to the asphalt in halves, her organs and entrails flopping wetly to the pavement. The man behind her hesitates. His head is back, sniffing the air. He’s backing away when the blade goes through his neck. His head tumbles from his shoulders to the parking lot. His body falls backward and lands across it, putting one shoulder up.
“Great,” says Krystal. “As if it didn’t stink enough out here already.”
I’m backing the truck up next to Randy’s at the loading bay. I kill the engine and we get out. Going up the concrete stairs along the side I see Randy’s flatbed already has fryers and frozen turkeys stacked in a spill of meltwater. Five cases of burger patties sit off to the side. It’s backed in over the lower steps so we have to climb under the rail to get up.
“Didn’t you have some shopping to do?” says Krystal. “Now’s your chance.”
“Yeah, I do,” I say, looking around the area. It’s a broad lot arcing over either side of the large graded knoll the Supercenter is on, Whatever comes up here will have to lean into the incline. It won’t be easy. But it won’t stop them, either. Worse, we won’t know we’re surrounded until too late.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” says Krystal. “We’ll be right here.”
Krystal goes to help the boys in the freezer. They’ve found a dolly and are using it to stack the boxes of patties and ground beef from the freezer. Wide puddles of water cover the floor but it doesn’t smell like anything is turned—yet. Then again, it’s hard to tell with the smell of dead people in the air.
“Where’s that chick I saw earlier?” I say, looking in on them.
“Marta’s s’posed to be bringin’ us some ice from up front,” says the guy in the trilby hat. “You might wanna go check on her.”
“Yeah, will do. What’s your name, by the way?”
“Timcat. Like ‘tomcat,’ but with Tim.”
Jesus. “Great.” I nod to the guy in the Chiefs hat. “You?”
“All right. Move fast. Oni-boner or whatever his name is just got two walkers outside. You can bet more are on their way.”
Randy and Timcat laugh. “I hear ya, boss. We’ll handle it.”
I push out the service doors into the main of the store. The heat, the stench, is gagging. Like Kansas City outside the hotel this stench has layers to it. Just when you think you’re getting used to it a fresh wave of putrefaction billows over and it’s all you can do to keep your stomach from turning inside out.
A grunting and shuffling to my right draws my attention to the man in the cargo shorts struggling towards me. His difficulty is exacerbated by having only one working leg. Apparently whatever got him worked one side; even his arm has had so much muscle chewed and sucked away it’s useless. He’s managed to pull himself up along the shelves on the back wall and hop-shuffle towards the sound of our activity.
I draw my panga and walk over to the half-man. Flashing back to Rebecca’s smooth motion with her gun, hitting her target along the sweet spot of the curve, I raise the blade and divest the half-man of his one good arm. The fine, silvery, deluxe claw hammer I found in a tool box in the garage is in my other hand; I bring the blunt end crashing between his eyes before he has a chance to drop. He goes over backward, cracking the back of his skull for good measure as he hits the floor.
These exertions don’t make this easy but I have to control my breathing, if only so I can hear what’s around me. I turn my head slowly to take in my surroundings, waiting for my panting to quiet. Eventually it’s enough that I can hear the stirrings down the various aisles across the store.
Goddamn it, let’s just get that underwear and get out of here!
Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2015 by L. Roy Aiken.
All photos from Google Images.