|“What matters most is how well you|
walk through the fire.” - Charles Bukowski
In the course of rewinding through the scenes, it occurred to me that my heroes got through town a little too easily, given the situation of zombies being herded into the metro area from the countryside. So I wrote the following scene. Keep in mind Agnes, wife of first-person narrator Derek Grace, drives a 15-foot tall monster truck equipped with a flame thrower. They have a convoy of SUVs and trucks behind them full of families with babies.
Hijinks ensue. All of this was written within the last 12 hours. Let’s see how good I am today.
They find their feet, though. They push themselves upright, they throw one leg out front, then the other. Many fall yet again as the thick grasses catch them by the ankles. They’re slowed, but not by much. The sounds and smells of food compel them; they must have us. As more and more of their fellows follow across the median, the fence shall be trampled flush with the dirt soon enough.
Agnes throws more fire to either side while waiting for the trucks and SUVs to catch up. We move a little faster once Elyssa’s SUV clears the median, but we don’t want too much of a gap between vehicles. Even aflame, the former men and women of Colorado Springs advance upon us, and Agnes and I have to draw our pistols to knock them back.
The sound of our engines causes the dead to ooze towards us from beneath the shade of the Bijou Street overpass. They don’t pause a single step as Agnes rains flame upon them, but rouse themselves to move even faster as the flesh blisters and pops from their bones. “There’s no way they’re getting past these bridges by going under them,” says Agnes. “Derek, can you wave Elyssa over to follow us up the ramp? A.J. message everyone as fast as you can what they have to do. There’s no way I can clear these things out before we’re swarmed.”
I unbuckle from the harness and grab the back of the cockpit cage. I wave at Elyssa, and try to get the attention of the Smileys driving behind Elyssa’s SUV. Elyssa, bless her, knows exactly what I mean when I point up the ramp, and Ethan stands up in the moon roof to wave at the vehicles behind them. Agnes takes us rapidly up the exit ramp, and the rest follow without hesitation. The shooters at the rear of our convoy are going to be busy, as the surge of hunger-driven bodies reaches that end. Thank God this exit ramp is built up along a concrete block wall and not earthworks. The dead can’t cut across to get at us as we ascend.
Ethan and Tom take out a few aggressive pedestrians as we cross Bijou Street and descend the acceleration ramp back to the Interstate, but it’s not as bad as it could be. The mob oozes like sickly molasses from underneath the overpass on this side, a lethal mass of grasping hands and gnashing teeth almost ready to meet us at the bottom of the ramp. It’s as if all of downtown packed itself underneath that wide overpass.
Of course, there are plenty of others who don’t seem to mind the daylight at all. They walk with their faces pointed to the sun, even as they stagger towards the smell of human steak tartare on the hoof. Those are the ones our moon roof shooters busy themselves with as Agnes pours fat volleys of fire on the bilious mob along the retaining wall of the acceleration ramp. “Goddamn it,” she says, “I don’t remember this many people living here back in the day.”
“Good old Colorado Springs,” I say. “Boomtown of the Living Dead.”
Agnes stops at the bottom of the ramp and reverses over these ravenous former citizens while I wave Elyssa and the rest of our group ahead. What was merely a deadly cannibal mob is now a flaming cannibal mob. These former cubicle workers, shift managers, programmers, waitresses, and office assistants were ugly enough without their skin crisping like so much meat left too long on the grill. Then comes the part when the rancid fluids steaming within their skulls causes their heads to explode. No one wants that stuff on them.
It’s never a bad thing to add a zombie fighting scene in a book about the zombie apocalypse, right? I like to think so. Still, I’m looking forward to getting back to the end of the narrative, and work towards that epic conclusion to my epic series. While you’re waiting on me, I’ve got the first two books for you here, available in Kindle and paperback, in Canada and the UK:
Only the strong will survive BLEEDING KANSAS.
In the heart of darkest horror, you will find GRACE AMONG THE DEAD.
Follow me on Twitter for the occasional link to a book excerpt. I’m always good for a free taste before hooking you on the hard stuff.