THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER Book 1: Bleeding Kansas: A Novel Of The Zombie Apocalypse (10 page)

BOOK: THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER Book 1: Bleeding Kansas: A Novel Of The Zombie Apocalypse
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“Get that closed we
gotta 
go!
” Tanner drops into the pilot’s seat and we’re rolling forward. Pulling up the ladder is tricky with the plane in motion. Trying to get the hatch closed as we approach take-off is even more difficult. The tarmac falls away beneath us. 

I’m leaning back with all my weight to pull the hatch shut and I see their faces. So many faces showing us their teeth, roaring their hunger at us as we climb into the late morning sky….
 

 

 

10

 

 

“Is it secure?” he says as I crouch-walk to my seat in the cockpit.

“Oh yeah.”

“We almost didn’t make it,” says Tanner.

“Well, we did. Think we can make it to Colorado?”

“Not with this much fuel.
We’re going to have to set down somewhere.”


How far can we go on the fuel we’ve got?”

“I honestly don’t know.” Tanner’s gaze flits between the windshield and the instruments.

“You did what you had to do,” I say. “A shame she couldn’t have just driven away, but there it is.”

Tanner shakes his head.
“My friend, my accomplice, whatever you are, 
there was no escape!
 They were coming in thick from all sides! You have no idea how close I came to colliding with that bunch on the runway!”

“I saw ‘
em. Did we find I-70?”

“We’re headed due west right over it. Not hard to find, considering how we got to the airport.”

“Good.” I go into the back cabin and open my suitcase. I pull out some sausage patties and bacon, bring them to the front.

“After all we’ve been through, we’re going to eat?” says Tanner.

“Figured we could use a little comfort food right now.”

“Are you bothered by what we did back there?”

I take a bite from a sausage patty, savoring the soon-to-be-extinct flavor. “No,” I say after a while. “If I’m bothered, it’s that that I’m not bothered.” I’m about to take another bite when it occurs to me: “Although, frankly, that doesn’t bother me either.”

“Funny how we’re obliged to feel a certain way about things, in spite of the rational outcome.”

“I hear you. Look, how far out are we now?

“Look down. What do you see?”

“Looks like we’re coming up fast on Topeka.”

“We’d be past Topeka already if we weren’t so low on gas. I figure I’ve got just enough airspeed to keep us up.”

“We still made better time than driving.
Any idea on when it gets critical?”

“I honestly can’t say. I don’t know this plane. I’m ju
st conserving as best I know. The needle’s going down, that’s all.”

“Would it hurt to bring us
in lower? I want to see what’s going on.”

“Once we get on the other side of town let’s look for a truck stop or something. If we’re going to make it to Colorado we’ve got to gas up sooner than later.”

My ears pop as we descend, a little more steeply than I’d like before leveling out. Tanner steers us a little to the left. We jolt from the change in heat radiant from the surface below but I can see the Interstate a lot more clearly now. And the nature of the black dots along the parallel strips of white....

“Shit.”

“What?”

“Well, maybe we’re a little too close to the city,” I say.

“A bunch of abandoned cars?”

“No. Everyone here went home to die, too. Thing is….”

“What?”

“The westbound people are headed west, the eastbound east. It’s the damnedest thing. It’s like they’re commuting!”

“Well, can I land the plane?”

“No.”

“No?”

“You could look for yourself.”

Tanner snaps on the auto-pilot. After a second and third glance at his instruments he unbuckles and leans towards my side of the cockpit. He takes his look, curses under his breath before thumping back into his seat and buckling up. 

Tanner disengages the autopilot. “We’ve got to get on the other side of this city,” he says, as we ascend. We fly between a
couple of hi-rises on either side of the Interstate before Tanner takes us sharply up. I look down. Traffic’s thick. Where do these things think they’re going?

Goddamn, this all started with a flu!

“Tanner, what the hell do you think happened here?”

“What do you mean? I’ve
got to land this thing!”

“Never mind.”

We cross the narrow squiggle of the Kansas River, buzz the western half of the crowded city. In another minute we’re out over the rolling grassland. Still a lot of deaders out here, but their numbers are thinning the further we go.

“My best guess,” Tanner says, taking us over the northern edge of the
Interstate, “is that one of the pharmaceutical companies came up with this by way of having a vaccine and a cure for it. The sloppy way everyone’s been doing business over the last decade or so neither their vaccine nor their cure worked.”

“They were making a big deal of everyone getting that flu shot last winter,” I say. “A lot bigger than usual, it seems.”

Tanner doesn’t seem to have heard me. His attention is fixed on the Interstate. He takes us lower, edging carefully over the narrow white strips below. I look nervously at the wind turbines we’re passing between, their huge blades chopping the air so close to the wing it rocks the plane.

“Between you and me,
” says Tanner, “I don’t think there’s much that hasn’t happened on purpose in the last twenty years. For all we know this is all about thinning out the herd. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Lt. Col. What’sername really was trying to get to a pre-arranged location for the elites and their favored servants. It stands to reason those elites would arrange transport for everyone they wanted to save. That the woman’s family had to arrange their own transportation makes me wonder if they were really invited.”

The sudden silence of the props hits like a physical blow. Tanner and I look at each other.

“Ready or not,” says Tanner.

He brings us over
the eastbound lanes. Tanner is slowing us as best as he can with the flaps, his hands white-knuckled on the tiller. We’re coming in fast. We bump onto the white slab asphalt of I-70 and it’s all we can do to hold steady at 90 mph.

Tanner works the brakes and we’
re at 60 mph when our wheels explode beneath us. The nose is tilting sharply down and the last thing I’m thinking before impact is….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TWO

 

Crash

 

 

 

 

 

11

 

 

I feel the hands gripping me.
Fingers tightening about my limbs. Terror rises—and sinks again. My conscious—what? Can’t make myself stay. Not that I want to be “here” when the teeth tear into my flesh, feeling their cold, dry tongues working in, scraping across my bones….

“He’s coming around!” I hear someone say. “Think we can bring him back for good this time?”

I feel a stinging on my face. My head is knocked back and forth. I can’t do anything about this so I let myself fall. Back where there’s no “here.” I don’t want to be here. There’s nothing here. No one here. They’re gone. My people. Gone.

(They got sick.)

(Who?) (Everybody.)

(Sibyl and
Jack didn’t get sick.)

My chest hurts. As with the stinging on my face, I let go and try to fall backwards into the Great White Nothing. I can’t fall as far, though.
The pain in my chest. The hands again, moving me.

“Derek? Derek, are you there?”

A woman’s voice. Not Claire. Giselle?

(Giselle was pretty.)

No.

“I don’t know how much longer we can justify this.”
A man’s voice. “If he doesn’t come around soon….”

“Look, I know I
prob’ly put too much painkiller in him but the way I see it he’s got a better chance of healin’ those cracked ribs if he stays out. You wanted to see how we could learn to take care of people with the hospitals out. Here you go, first case!”

“Let’s hope we don’t have to duck out of here fast. He’s
gonna slow us down.”

“Brandon an’
me can get ‘im in the back of my truck in less’n a minute!”

“All right, then. He’s your dog, Charlie Brown.” I sense him leaving the—room? It’s warm but dark. I can’t focus my eyes yet but I can tell
it’s dark.

“Mr. Derek Samuel
Grace of Colorado Springs. You in there?  You hear me?”

I don’t know how to make words. I sound like one of them.
(Who?) Those people with the bloody bibs all the way down their fronts….

“You’re
tryin’, I see it! Come on, baby, I know you can do it!”

Derek. Mr.
Grace. Derek Samuel Grace.

That’s
 
me!

“Hey.”

“Is that what I thought it was?” She’s so happy, I couldn’t bear to disappoint her….

“Who—?”

“Who?” she says.

“Who’re you?”

“Me? I’m Krystal! Krystal with a ‘K’!”


Krys….”

“Yes, some people call me that. I prefer ‘Krystal,’ though.”

“’Kay, Krys….”

I’m aware of her shouting after me as I fall back again. It’s different this time, though. Now I just want to
 
sleep
.

It feels good so I’m going with it.

 

I awaken to a pounding headache and the sensation of being drowned. Someone is trying to pour water down my throat.

“It’s a miracle he ain’t died from dehydration. If I knew how to set up a drip, I would!” the woman says.

“Well, he’s still here,” says another woman. “He’s swallowing.”

Gulping and gasping is more like it. I find myself scrambling out of the Nothing trying to breathe. The inevitable gulp brings the water down the wrong pipe and now I see green and purple bursts in the Nothing as I try and cough it out.

“Oops.
Looks like he aspirated that one.”

“Ass-per-
what?

“I thought you said you went to nursing school!”

“I went to community college to become a medical assistant!”

“Don’t matter, the terminology’s the same!”

“You mean all those silly-assed spellin’ words and shit we had to learn? God, I felt like I was in fourth grade again!”

“And still
flunkin’ out!”

“Well, if you’re so smart, why don’t
 
you
 hook him up to a drip!”

“Because I didn’t go to school at all!
And I still know what ‘aspirate’ means!”

The pain in my chest is bad enough with my coughing. Now I feel a weight pushing in on my middle. The white overcomes the burst of color with each push.

“What are you doing?”

“Chest compressions!
I’m trying to push the water out!”

“Chest compressions on a man with cracked ribs? That’s it, move over! God! Just ‘
cause you know a buncha words don’t mean you know shit!”

Water comes up, hot from my lungs. I instinctively gulp it down, along with some air. My hands find the surface I’m on, push.

“He’s trying to push himself up!”

“Well, it’s probably better for him if he’s swallowing water. C’mon, help me with him here.”

“He looks like he’s doing fine on his own.”

“Look at his arms shaking! He hasn’t eaten solid food in a week! C’mon, help him up!”

I feel their fingers stabbing into my armpits. My eyes are open but all I see are shapes moving against a dark background. I look towards the voices, blink, shake my—no. I can’t shake my head. Skull hurting.

The first thing I see is the glass with the water in it.
On a metal table.  It’s a little higher than my bed.

“Oh, no!”
A shape swoops into my field of vision. A young, heavyset woman takes the glass in one hand while wheeling the table back with her other. “You’re too weak to hold anything on your own. Let me hold the glass while you’re sitting up. Hannah, you think you can get him some food?”

“Like what? He’s
gonna need it mashed up until he remembers how to digest it.”

“Bring ‘
im that beef jerky we got! He can learn how to work his jaw again and get what he needs from the juices.”

BOOK: THE SAGA OF THE DEAD SILENCER Book 1: Bleeding Kansas: A Novel Of The Zombie Apocalypse
2.31Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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