I just stood there, frozen, unmoving, and unbelieving. My right hand on the door knob, my left hand holding the Peacemaker with its barrel pointing at the ceiling, and the curse of all curses hanging there above me like a fecal encrusted brick. All seven shufflers turned to me as if of one mind. Bones creaked. Skin stretched. The mood in the room shifted from the idle browsing of a window shopper to the animalistic fervor of a Las Vegas All You Can Eat buffet.
Oddly enough, it seemed like the dang shufflers seemed almost surprised to see me because they didn’t come at me right away. I stood there looking at them, and they stood there looking at me. I’m not sure how long the eight of us could have continued in such a fashion, but being one who values the life that God gave me, I broke the tension the only way I knew how.
I shot zombie nearest me.
It was a woman in what once would have been called a power suit, and she went down lickity-split. Before she hit the floor I cleared leather on the right Peacemaker and popped off another shot, then another. Right, then left, then right, then left. Seven quick shots in under four seconds. Seven shufflers lying still on the grey carpet. I breathed a heavy sign of relief as the sound of my final shot echoed off into the distance.
Then I saw the rest.
A mob of zombies were out on the sidewalk. Dozens of them, and hundreds more behind them in the parking lot. And I had their complete, and undying attention. And yes, that pun was very much intended.
I quickly reloaded and did two things that made me feel very uncomfortable considering the herd of groaning shufflers that were slowly making their way towards me. I put away my weapons, and I turned my back on the hungry mob.
I threw myself at the locked back door only to bounce off and land smack on my rear. I looked back towards the entrance to see the shuffling mob bottlenecked at the broken front window where I came in. That would slow them down for now, but it wasn’t going to last but a few seconds before the sheer weight of them brought the entire front wall down, and then they would come flooding in.
I picked myself up and commenced to kicking and beating at the door, but it just wasn’t opening. I took a quick glance at the front of the store and found that four shufflers were in. I turned my back on them again, ignoring the primal moans from behind me. I needed out of here.
I was just about to throw myself at the door again when I heard something scratching and thumping from the other side. I put my ear to the wood and heard a number of zombie moans from the room beyond the door. There were shufflers out back too. I was trapped.
I pulled both Peacemakers, thumbing back the hammers and pointing them at the ceiling. Then I turned to face the uncountable undead at the front of the store. It was time to put that whole immortality thing to the ultimate test.
I inhaled deeply, then exhaled. In through my nose, out through my mouth. In with the good, out with the bad. Three times I breathed, in and then out. I let a feeling of calm wash over me as the four shufflers came within inches of arm reach from me while three more were pulling themselves in through the hole in the front window.
I smiled slightly as I began to fire. I became a machine. Aim, fire. Aim, fire. Left, then right. Left then, right. I shot and the monsters fell.
I’ve always been good at shooting, there ain’t no doubt about that. It’s like I was born to fire a gun. Most folks will tell you, those who know, that it really ain’t that easy to hit something with a pistol, especially when the overwhelming fear of death is in the air. There have been many an occasion where someone has emptied a handgun at another person just ten feet away without hitting them even once. Heck, how do you think Wyatt Earp managed to get out of that scrape at the O.K. Corral with nary a scratch? Well, it’s because it just ain’t that easy to hit something with a pistol.
Unless you happen to be me. I’ve always been able to hit everything I’ve ever aimed for, and today was no different.
Twelve shots later I put the Peacemakers away and went instead for the Smith and Wesson revolvers under my arms. I do prefer the Peacemakers, they’ve been with me for a great long time, but what I needed now was speed as well as accuracy. Accuracy I’d have regardless of the pistol I used, but that’s because I’m me. But what the Smith and Wessons had that the Peacemakers didn’t were speed loaders.
A speed loader is used to load all the chambers of a revolver in one go instead of loading the gun one bullet at a time. It reduces my load time from around five seconds per gun to just under two. Of course one of the only situations in which you might find yourself in, that such a time difference gives you a distinct advantage would be if you happen to find yourself in close confines with a herd of shufflers, and since I happen to find myself in just such a situation, I’ll take any advantage I can get.
I pulled the Smith and Wesson revolvers and opened fire. Squeezing off shot after shoot, finding my target each time and smiling as more shufflers hit the ground. Twelve shots and three seconds later, I reload and start again. Twenty four shots and another reload later and I’d managed to create more of a bottleneck at the front of the store as I brought zombie after zombie down to plug up that hole in the window.
I reloaded both revolvers again with the last of the speed loaders and quickly picked off more shufflers, shooting now through the whole in the window, picking off the shufflers who were closer so the store, trying to stack them up both on the outside and the inside. While I was managing to keep the shufflers out, the mound of bodies both in and outside the store would also hinder me when it came time to leave. But yet I still fired, and shufflers fell. I told myself that I was thinning the herd, but I was stalling. I couldn’t keep this up. I needed to get out and the front door seemed to be my only option.
I fired the last shot from the Smith and Wessons and put them away. For the moment I was alone with the comics and the bodies. That wasn’t going to last though. I could see through the windows and doors that hundreds of others crowed the parking lot and we ambling my way. Many had made it to the entrance and were climbing over their fallen zombie brothers and sisters toward the hole in the window. It looked like Black Friday in slow motion.
I needed a plan.
Of course, as I said, I don’t do to well in the planning stage of things, so I went with instinct and snatched the two grenades from the front of my vest, pulled the pins, chucked them to the front of the store, and then ducked into the office behind me. The store shook with the duel explosions and I was out of the office and sprinting towards the front of the store before any of the debris had landed.
As I ran I pulled the Winchester off my back and held it in both hands. I still had the Peacemakers at my hips, loaded and ready, but I figured that in close quarters, I could use the rifle to both shoot and pummel.
At the front of the store, where the door used to be, was a large gaping hole that opened out onto the parking lot. Any zombie that was near when the grenades went off were now nothing more than twitching body parts strewn about on the side walk. I kept running.
Have you ever been to a public, outdoor function, like maybe a tailgate party in the parking lot of a stadium just before the big game? Soon the hundreds of people in the lot start shuffling towards the stadium. Not quite it one large group, but more like twenty to thirty small groups of people all flowing slowly in the same direction. This is what I was running towards. The only difference is that this shuffling mass wanted to eat me.
I hit the lot and met up with the first group. I never stopped running. I just plowed right into them, first shooting and then swinging the rifle. Cracking shufflers in the head with the stock of the Winchester. I was through in seconds. I had just a moment of freedom before I hit the second group. Then the third, fourth, fifth, and so on. That’s how I got through the lot and the crowd of shufflers. Running, shooting, swinging, and just plain barreling my way though, and for some reason, after getting through the second group, I started to chant something I heard from a movie about fish.
“Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”
I was saying it out loud. Quietly, at first, but by the time I reached the edge of the parking lot and broke free of the zombies, I was screaming it at the top of my lungs. But I never stopped running. I just kept going right out to Louisiana street, running east. I crossed Louisiana street and cut through the parking lot of a grocery store, running northeast, diagonally though the lot, and came out on 23rd street. I turned right and ran east down 23rd for the next four blocks until I reached the Winnebago I parked on the corner of 23rd and Massachusetts streets.
The Winny was something special. It looked like a movie prop from Road Warrior. A few months back I ran into a fella living at a scrap yard out in the middle of Nowhere, Nebraska. As payment for clearing the place of shufflers, he put his metal working skills to use and made some modifications to my ride. We covered the windows with plate steel, using just slits cut into the metal to see, or shoot, through. This helped keep zombies out. He also made me a cow catcher, like you used to see on the front of old steam trains. I had that welded to the front. It came in mighty useful for plowing through a mod of undead pedestrians.
My heart filled with joy at the site of it.
I leaned back against the RV and caught my breath before walking around to the passenger side. I tried the door and found it locked. I didn’t curse this time, instead I just reached into my right pants pocket for the keys.
I didn’t find the keys in the pocket. Instead I found a hole as big as my fist. I must have lost the keys while barreling through a group of zombies. That’s when I cursed. I cursed long and loud. Then I stopped cursing and went over my options.
I was ten miles from the nearest walled community in Littleton. Thanks to my modifications, I wouldn’t be able to simple break a window to get into the RV. But even if I could, I’ve never learned to hotwire a car, so getting in was pointless without the keys.
I could just abandon the Winny and walk the ten miles to Littleton, but all my stuff was in the RV. My ammo, my clothes, my food, but most importantly, my comics.
I took stock of what little ammo I had left. Zero rounds in the Smith and Wessons and none in my pockets. Twelve rounds in the Peacemakers and thirty more in my pockets. Fifteen rounds in the Winchester and twenty more in my pockets.
I turned West, back towards the strip mall at the corner of 23rd and Louisiana. I knew the zombies would be following me. I could see them slowly making a beeline for me just two blocks up. There was no way I was going to make it the ten miles to Littleton on foot. I mean, I could run the ten miles, sure. But I wasn’t too keen on leading such a large group of shufflers to the wall of the town. Then the guard would have to waste ammo just to take them all out. No, I had to go back and find my keys.
I sighed and slipped off up Massachusetts street, heading north. I could take Mass up a few blocks, turn west, cut through a few yards and make my way back to Louisiana street. Then head back south to the strip mall. Hopefully by then I will have lost the shufflers, and the lot of the strip mall would be empty of them and I could take my sweet time finding my keys.
At least that’s what I hope.
One thought hit me as I loped up Mass street. One thought that made me chuckle a little.
It’s not easy being a Fanboy.