I cannot believe how big the trees are up here. I’m walking down a dirt path surrounded by trunks so wide they would clog every tunnel ever built underground. We could finally be rid of Cogston! No, no, that’s mean. They’re good people. They just…it’s hard to explain.
Vines are creeping up and down buildings, younger trees are breaking up concrete on what was once sidewalks and roads. I don’t know what this city used to be called, but it must have been quite a vision when people walked around here.
People are walking around here I guess. I’m here. Look at that! We’re taking back the surface already.
I keep hearing zombies sound off in the distance. They’re getting louder. I can only assume that means they’re getting closer. Thankfully they are not exceptionally fast. They can get some speed, but cheetahs these things are not.
There was a pack of them waiting in the brush. They weren’t talking. They weren’t moving. They were just waiting. I don’t know if they smelled me, heard me, or just spent their days there. I was walking and writing and listening. I did what the salvager training told them to do, but it wasn’t enough. I was not prepared. I was too engulfed in my own mind to pay attention to the things around me.
The first one grabbed my leg and I fell over. I saw the ground come up quick and I blinked, but I remembered to tuck and roll to shake off anything that may have grabbed me. Those primary school classes paid off, I suppose.
I looked around to see what had grabbed me and all I saw was gray, gnarled faces chomping at me. At a distance they don’t appear to move quickly; up close they are faster than anything I have ever encountered. Four zombies were standing, one was trying to peel itself off the ground (the one that tripped me).
I couldn’t run. They would follow me and I have a sled of supplies in tow now. I lashed out. I had my pen in hand and knew that a good deep pierce of the head would put them down. One was close enough. Just close enough. I lunged and stuck my pen through its head.
It was like butter. The bones were brittle, the skin was thin, the pen was strong. I screamed like a tennis player and went for it. It worked out. The remaining zombies did not care that their cohort had fallen. Even animals have a community. These things are so far from human.
I had time to grab my hatchet. I think I had time anyway. All I could think was “hatchet, hatchet, hatchet” and moved to get it. Looking back now, all I remember is the sound of my pulse in my ears. It was louder than any zombie could ever be.
And the crack of the hatchet against zombie skull. I remember that too. I didn’t learn that in prep classes.
I thought I heard my name. “Toro!” Someone called out. I know they called my name. Not many words sound like toro. Borrow? Burrough? Churro? Edward R Murrow? Nothing sounds like my name. I know what I heard.
I was putting together the sled, reassembling it all after the zombies. I grabbed the sled and ran to what I thought was the source of the voice. This building is…something else. There’s a lot of glass walls on the first floor which is absolutely terrible for hiding out from zombies. But people used to live here. After the world ended, I mean. It was an office complex before. But after the end, people set up little sleeping bags and tents and made a life here. Whatever happened to them I cannot tell, but for a time this place was home.
There are no blood stains on the walls and most of the make-shift city they were living in looks to have been picked up in an organized manner. They just left some of their supplies behind. Probably stuff belonging to their lost fellows.
I haven’t found anybody in the building yet. I parked the sled on the first floor and have been walking slowly up twenty stories. Taking a break now to enjoy the creeping vines that crawled up the building and made their in through a window. No flowers on these things, but they don’t need flowers. They are perfectly pretty as they are.
I learned some things today. One; I can take down packs of zombies. I thought I could, now I know I can. Two; someone is out here. I don’t know if it’s him or not, probably not as he would have actually stuck around to say hi and likely offer me tea. I have no idea where he found tea all the time. I take that back. I do know. Those lousy tea drinkers at Cogston!
I’m going to sleep now in a genuine sleeping bag and tomorrow I’m going to look around some more while I plot how to seal up Cogston once and for all.
To be continued…
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