Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Eddie's Tale: Part Three

For those of you (like Lemmiwinks!) with little patience, this story will end tomorrow. That's Thursday in Amurrican, but I have no idea what day that will be in Oz. Saturday? Who knows.

So I hope you enjoy today's part three. While you're reading it, I'll be out in the kitchen on my knees again, cementing ceramic tile to the floor. When I die, I suspect I'll be laying tile in Hell. But at least it'll look nice when it's done....and just for CycleDog readers....there will be photos!

PART THREE: Wednesday

Gunshots woke him just after midnight. Someone was shooting out on the street. He heard screams. Eddie rolled out of bed in his ratty old gym shorts. Without turning on the lights, he went to the window and stood carefully to one side, wary of stray bullets. Down the street, a neighbor stood in his doorway. Muzzle flashes from his shotgun lit up 3 or 4 people trying to get up the front steps. The shotgun blasted again and again, knocking down one person after another. His wife stood behind him, her screams echoing along the deserted street. But what made the hairs on Eddie's neck stand up was the sight of each body rising and going up the steps again. He kept a wooden practice sword – a boken – next to his bed and he reached for it now. Most people thought it was a fancy walking stick and Eddie preferred not to correct them. As he watched, Donna sprinted down the street on her bike, narrowly missing a body. It stood up and followed her.

The bedroom door opened behind him and Dog pushed inside. Even in the dim light filtering in from the street, Eddie knew something was terribly wrong. He turned as Dog reached for him, teeth gnashing and snapping as he moaned softly. Eddie shoved him and Dog tripped over a laundry basket. He was up again quickly and rushed Eddie again. Eddie ducked under his outstretched arms and kicked one of his knees hard. Dog went down. Eddie dodged across the room. Dog immediately started crawling across the floor as he pursued Eddie. The pain had to be excruciating, yet Dog kept on. Eddie reached for the light switch, never taking his eyes off his friend.

The light snapped on. Dog's skin was gray and his eyes were yellow like a wolf. Eddie didn't need any further confirmation that the thing crawling across the floor was no longer his friend.

A gun fired from the hallway. Dog's head exploded and Eddie was deafened by the blast in the small room. Donna shouted, “Come on! Run! The rest of them will be here in seconds!”

There was no time to ask questions. Donna ran down the stairs taking them two at a time with Eddie right behind her. Bodies slammed into the flimsy front door. It wouldn't hold for long. As they went through the kitchen, the door splintered. Eddie grabbed a pair of sneakers but didn't pause to put them on. He just ran. In the back yard, Donna held up a corner of the chain link fence separating the yard from the old factory grounds. They'd cut it months earlier to ride their bikes through that industrial wasteland. Eddie shot through. Running footsteps told him that Donna followed. Other footsteps pounded down the wooden stairs from the kitchen. A half moon hung overhead providing a dim light.

Eddie ran blindly past piles of junk and rusted machinery until Donna yelled, “This way! Hurry!” She turned right into an alleyway and Eddie hurried to keep pace. He clutched the shoes in one hand and the boken in the other. He was too afraid to stop and put them on. His feet were cut and bleeding from the gravel and concrete, and a far-off part of his mind wondered incongruously if he'd need a tetanus shot. He hated shots, especially ones that hurt. “Right,” he thought, “someone is trying to kill me and I'm worried about a stupid tetanus shot.” He realized that Donna knew where to go and that she had a plan. They raced through the factory in near darkness, spurred on by the running footsteps following close behind.

Donna arrived at the base of a ladder, tucked the pistol in her waistband, and started climbing without hesitation. Eddie followed, shoelaces gripped in his teeth and the boken threaded through his shorts. Its weight threatened to pull them down. The laces tasted awful. The ladder went up about 40 feet to a catwalk that had once been used for the glass plant's overhead crane. They'd used it to practice setting up static lines and rappelled from its sides just for fun. They'd even set up a zip line - a sloping piece of steel cable that connected to the far side of the factory floor. Donna reached the top and Eddie scrambled up next to her. Soft moaning rose from the darkness below. Someone else climbed the ladder until Donna aimed and fired. They heard a body hit the ground. A second later, she fired again. The muzzle blast lit a group of six or eight zombies trying to reach the foot of the ladder by climbing over the fallen body.

“How many bullets do you have?” Eddie asked as he quickly laced his shoes. “Where did you get that gun?”

“Two or three. Maybe.” Donna gasped for breath. “Dead security guard at work.” Someone was climbing the ladder again. Eddie drew the boken and waited, his breath rasping in and out. A head reached the top of the ladder and he swung at it, snapping his wrists in a vertical cut to bring crushing force down on the skull. Though it was a practice weapon, a boken used against an unprotected head was lethal. The zombie fell, taking another off the ladder with him.

“Get to the zip line, Donna! I can stop them here! Go! Go!” Donna didn't need to be persuaded. Her footsteps clanged along the catwalk and she was lost in the gloom. Eddie waited for another climber to come in range of the boken. He killed him easily, a man in a business suit this time, then he turned and ran toward the zip line. Without equipment, he'd have to go along it hand-over-hand. The steel cable would tear up his hands and legs, but the alternative – being taken by the zombies – was worse.

He reached the cable and could feel the vibration as Donna moved across it to the opposite wall. Without being told, Donna moved almost silently. Eddie threaded the boken through his shorts again, stepped off the catwalk, and hung below the cable. The steel cut into his palms and fingers. He swung his legs up and over it to support some of his weight. The boken slipped out and fell to the factory floor where it clattered loudly. He cursed silently, then followed after Donna.

When he reached the far side, he could see only a faint outline at first, but as he got closer, he realized Donna's pistol was aimed at him. “It's me!” Eddie hissed. “Don't shoot.” Donna let out a breath and lowered the gun. Eddie climbed onto the catwalk and rubbed his bloody hands on his shorts.

Donna whispered, “I pulled up the static rope, so the only way to get here is across the zip line.” Once, a badly rusted ladder had lead to this catwalk. They used it a few times, but it came crashing down one afternoon, so they relied on the static rope for ascending and rappelling. Suddenly, they felt the vibration as something attempted to follow them across the zip line. It stopped and a moment later the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the concrete floor reached them. Immediately, there was another. And another. “Damn! It's like one of them roach hotels.” Donna whispered, “and we're the bait.” They lost count of the impacts, but were relieved to realize there were no moans coming from below. Perhaps they were all dead.

They were out of danger for the moment. Eddie leaned over the handrail and puked.

They were safe on the catwalk, but without food or water they couldn't stay long. And they were both bleeding from the cable. They huddled together for warmth, Eddie's arms around his girlfriend. Donna slipped the pistol from her waistband and laid it on the catwalk between them. Despite the danger and their fear, as soon as the adrenaline wore off, they both fell asleep. In the darkness, he never noticed the small bite on Donna's arm.



Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

A conclusion tomorrow seems too soon. You can drag this out for weeks.

5:30 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

Yeah, I could drag it out, but lately I've been reading a lot of short fiction. It's hard to set the mood of a story and convey enough information while keeping it very short. Some of the stuff I've read has been no more than 500 words. This one is about 3000, and trust me, Fritz, I chopped some off to get it down to 3000. The Grannie story from Friday is another example. It could have been much longer, with some info about local radio and her friends, but sometimes it's better to leave things out. I've read pieces that described hair, clothing, and makeup in remarkable detail, but does that really add to a story? The things I've left out are best left to your imagination. I mean, when Michael approached Grannie's house only to find a body lying in the doorway, did you picture it in your mind? I did. And it was much like my grandmother's house.

5:55 PM  
Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

Maybe you should figure out a way to bring Bob Hope into this.

10:27 PM  
Blogger lemmiwinks said...

Oooh! This is good stuff Ed, thanks for humouring us impatient types ;-)

BTW, we're a day "ahead" of you guys.

6:58 PM  

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