Authors: Ann Riley
“Would you rather go into Wal-Mart?” I ask Marc.
I head to my closet and grab a few more clothes. Then go to Bobby’s and get some out for him. This is a man who has three closets filled in our home with clothes versus my one. And somehow, I am shocked that he never asks to come and get them, him being the clothing hoarder he is.
I see a few more items, like Riley’s extra leash, his food bowl, his bed and blankets, and holy cow, my Kindle. Yes, we still have electricity but not sure how long, and I have a ton of books on it.
“Anything else?” Marc asks.
“I don’t think so.” I tell him.
I grab my orchids as we leave the house and take one last look back. All of our belongings, personal items, and other stuff are useless now.
When I get to the truck, I see Marc grabbed some of my pictures. He took some off the wall and grabbed the box of family pictures I have kept over the years. Of momma and daddy and the rest of the family. I cry silently.
Soon, we are headed to highway forty-five on our way to Amory. Can I just say I never liked this short drive anyway, but with all the vehicles parked here and there, ambling zombies and horses running around, I hope I never have to come here anymore. Nothing against Amory personally, it’s just a pain in the ass with the extra obstacles.
Finally, we see the Will Robbins Road exit.
“Turn there. To the left.” I tell Marc.
This exit takes us through a little town called Nettleton, then into Amory. Neither are very big towns, so it doesn’t take long to get through Nettleton.
Aberdeen is another little town that, even before the zombies, I wouldn’t go there. Nothing against Aberdeen, but if you did go there pre-zombie, you’d better be on the lookout for trouble. It just wasn’t very friendly to outsiders.
Finally, we enter Amory.
“I hope you know how to get to where this Tater man lives.” I tell Marc, then start laughing.
“Damn it. I will never be able to hold a straight face now.” I say.
“Well, just keep your mouth closed then. We know how you don’t seem to have a filter and if you get him mad at us I’m making you walk home.” Marc says.
“Liar.” I say. And flip him the finger.
“Find the waterway first. We can go from there. Amory Lock shouldn’t be that hard to find. He is close to it, right?” I ask Marc.
Nothing like joy riding in the middle of an apocalypse.
“There’s the waterway.” I say to Marc.
“You don’t say.” Marc says.
“Well, it’s been so long since we saw a body of water I thought you may need a clue as to what that was.” I say to him.
He flips me off this time.
“What is the name of his boat?” I ask Marc.
“Hell, I don’t know.” Marc says.
I just look at him, really not sure what smart ass comment to make.
“There is a girl over there. You see her?” I ask.
Marc drives over to where a girl is standing. The house is one of the beautiful, old Victorian homes that Amory and Aberdeen are famous for. Antebellum homes line the streets in these areas.
As we pull closer to her, I roll down the window. Hoping not to scare her and have her thinking we are raiders.
“Hello.” I call out to her.
She just stares at me. Not that I blame her.
“My name is Tracie and this is my nephew Marc. We are here looking for a man named…….” I start laughing. Sorry, I can’t hold a straight face. Holy fucking cow.
“We’re looking for Tater.” Marc says, glaring at me.
What the hell am I supposed to do? I can’t help that I find the name Tater to be funny.
She continues to stare.
“Look, we just wanted to trade with him. We aren’t here to steal or hurt anyone. We were told he was a trader, so here we are.” I say to her.
She walks a little closer to the truck. I stick my hand out the window.
“Nice to meet you.” I say, holding my hand out to her.
She takes my hand.
“Hi. I’m Jill. And I know who are looking for. I can show you where he is.” She says.
“That would be great.” I tell her.
She starts walking toward the back of the house. Marc and I look at each other, then exit the truck.
“Do you have your gun?” I whisper to Marc.
“Do you?” He asks back.
We follow her behind the house and there is the Tombigbee waterway.
I can see a boat and I assume that is who we want.
Jill waves the boat and man over and we stand at the edge and wait.
“Where are y’all from?” Jill asks.
“Tupelo and Pontotoc.” I say.
“Is it as bad there as here?” She asks.
“Is this where you lived before the zombies?” I ask.
“Yeah. This house has been in my family for years and it was passed on to me. I was in the process of doing some inside work on it when this happened and never got to finish. I don’t much sense in it now, though.” Jill says.
“Have y’all had many attacks.” I ask.
“Oh yes. At first, they were like every day. Zombies and people. Now it’s not as often, but people still come trying to take things from us. I really don’t understand the mindset of people when disaster strikes. Do they not realize working together is better than being divided?” Jill asks.
“They don’t.” I say.
We watch as the man, who I assume is Tater, and I almost laugh out loud as I think of that name, walks up to us.
Marc introduces us and tells him why we are here.
Jill and I walk over closer to the edge of the water.
“Is he kin to you?” I ask her.
“Oh no. He is someone who has been around here for a long time. He owned a hardware store when all this hit, so he had a lot of supplies and tools. He tries to keep an eye out for people who may try and come in by water. We have had a few of those.” Jill says.
Marc waves us back over.
“We are trading some food for ammo. He hit the stores that carried ammunition after the zombies came and he is loaded. He said everything else is dwindling and it’s harder to find food now. They are planting this spring so they can raise their own food. He is giving us rounds for the rifles and handguns. He is throwing in some flash grenades that he said he has had for a long time and hasn’t used.” Marc says.
“Well, I hope they still work.” I say.
Marc just gave me a look and shook his head.
“Hey, I’m a nerd, not a weapons expert, smart ass.” I say to him.
We make our trade and finish loading up the truck.
I write down driving directions for Jill in case it gets too bad here and they have to leave.
“Do y’all have room?” She asks.
“We’ll make room.” I tell her.
“It was nice meeting you. I hope everything works out for you guys.” I say to her.
“Same here. Y’all be careful on the drive back. There are a few assholes around here who like to terrorize people.” She says.
We say our goodbyes and get in the truck to pull out.
“Bye Tater.” I yell out.
“You are so stupid.” Marc says and starts laughing, loudly.
As we head back to Pontotoc, we finally overcome our laughing fit.
We all need a good laugh in this seventh circle of hell we find ourselves in now.
It doesn’t take long for us to enter Pontotoc county. Looking around, I see landmarks, that if I didn’t already know about them, I wouldn’t recognize. It’s amazing how much the world has changed since this outbreak started. So many places are unrecognizable, or look as if they have been deserted for years. Zombies line the yards and streets. Will they ever just die? Will they hibernate? Pretty soon, the human population may get to the point where they starve. I don’t want to think about that. It looks like we are on the verge of extinction with no cure in sight.
I glance over at Marc and see he is deep in thought too.
“What’s on your mind?” I ask him.
“Just wondering if we will ever be normal again.” He says.
“We were never normal to start with.” I say with a snort.
“Point taken. The world then. I was wondering if it will even go back to normal.” Marc says.
“It would take a load of work to get everything back to normal. The only thing that can be done is to try and rebuild from what we have now. We have lost so many lives. There would be a shortage of every specialty. Not enough medical personnel. Which would be the most needed.” I say.
“Yeah.” Marc says.
Soon, we are pulling into the driveway at home. Thank the Gods we made it safely. I really didn’t feel like fighting today. I do hope that Jill and Tater make it through this though.
Sorry. I still laugh at that name.
Marc and I get out and start unloading the truck. It’s hard to say how long our ammo haul will last us since we can’t predict when people will force us to use it. But I think we are stocked pretty well.
I walk inside and see Bobby talking to Diane. I walk over and give him a hug.
“What’s up?” I ask.
“Someone has been walking around at the edge of the woods. I saw footprints today in the soft dirt.” Bobby says.
“You’re sure they aren’t our prints?” I ask him.
“They are cowboy boots. All of us have combat boots.” He says.
“Well fuck.” I say.
“I have been watching today. I haven’t noticed anyone. They are stealthy if they are out there right now.” She says.
Robert comes in and for some reason, he looks antsy.
“How is Rosa today?” I ask him.
“She is ok.” He replies. But as he replies, I can see it is an automatic response. He isn’t paying attention to me.
He looks as if he is thinking about something dire. I can see the fear in his eyes.
“Are you ok?” I ask him.
He doesn’t answer.
“Robert?” I say again.
“Oh. Yeah. I’m ok. Just thinking.” He says.
He turns and goes out the kitchen door into the back yard.
“Well, that was weird.” I say.
Bobby and Diane nod.
I follow Robert out to see what he is doing. He is just standing there like he is deep in thought. What the hell is going on with him?
“What the hell is wrong with him?” Marc asks.
“Your guess is as good as ours. We don’t know.” I tell him.
Marc goes inside and I continue to stand and watch Robert. He keeps looking at the woods like he is expecting someone. What the fuck now?
I go back in and announce to everyone how Robert is acting and let them know we need to be on alert at all times.
Then an idea comes to me.
I head out to the infirmary to talk to Rosa.
“Hi Rosa. How are you today?” I ask her.
She is a Hispanic lady who looks to be in her mid-sixties. Very pretty, dark hair and eyes. She has a slight Spanish accent. She is a very sweet lady.
“I am good niño. I do feel better and the Doc says that I am showing signs of improvement.” She says.
Rosa calls all of us niño, Spanish for child. She has trouble remembering all our names so she uses either niño or niña, depending on if it is a male or female she is talking to.
“That is great. I tell her and take her hand in mine.
“Rosa? What is wrong with Robert? He is acting strange. Like he is afraid.” I ask her.
She looks away.
“Rosa, if you know what it is, please tell me so we can be ready for any trouble. We don’t want to hurt him. We need to know why he is acting afraid.” I tell her.
I see tears rolling down her cheeks then feel like an ass for making a sick woman cry. Yes, I do still have feelings. Although they may be hidden on most days, they are there. The zom poc made me tougher, not heartless.
“Before we came here, we were at a camp. The men there were of the ilk that want to take things instead fending for themselves. They abused the women. They never bothered me as I was sick, but I saw some of them beat the women that were there. They force themselves on the women too. Robert decided we had to leave. He said he would not risk me being there any longer. He knew he could not kill all of them if the day came that they turned their aggression on us. She he made a plan to get us out.” Rosa says.
“So we left. We left their camp two days before we showed up here. We hid in the woods until we could get out and go to our old home. Robert had a van in the barn that he had been meaning to repair, it needed a fuel pump. He had the pump, but never put it on. So when we made it to our old home, he repaired the van. Then we showed up here. He thinks they have found us.” Rosa says.