Getting on the highway had been a bad idea. Merging onto the road it had looked clear, but all too soon the entire road was blocked in a major pile up. Worse Amelia was afraid to turn the car around and go back, a half mile earlier they had spotted a car that had hit another one heading the opposite direction. Someone had obviously encountered the same wreck and then turned around and hit somebody else coming this direction. Amelia had not survived the horror of MAC Co. to die in a traffic accident.
“I gotta know something.” Diane said suddenly into the silence between them, “I always wondered, and it is not any of my business, but were you sleeping with him?”
“What?” Amelia was flabbergasted, here they were, on the run from zombies, the world crashing around their ears and Diane wanted to know if she was sleeping with her boss? Kirkpatrick? She let out an ironic laugh, “No.” more laughter, “ No! Did you ever meet his wife?”
Diane just looked at her, as if realizing she had not quite thought of all the parts in the equation, before she smiled and shook her head, “Sorry. Yeah, I should have considered that, his wife was there a lot and you and her got along pretty well. Were you sleeping with his wife?” This last was said in jest, but it shocked Amelia, her mouth made a small ‘o’ and then she started laughing, as did Diane.
“Oh, no, oh no! That is so wrong. I mean no! You are not a very nice lady!”
“Well, dear, you know the rumors were all over the place, you had gone on several trips with him and were very attentive to him, very respectful. And he treated you, well, now that I think about it, he treated you like a daughter, not a lover. I am sorry. I really should have put a stop to the talk ages ago. Maybe I lived this long just to apologize? Can you forgive me?”
“If it were even a normal day I suppose I could, but as you are the only human I currently know, and we are in your car, I will say I wholeheartedly forgive you. Just don’t make any passes at me okay?”
It was Diane’s turn to be surprised and after another fit of the giggles the two went back to looking at the wreckage in front of them.
“I think you could get by on the right shoulder, you might scrape the paint, but who the hell cares?” said Diane.
Amelia looked to the right, not at all certain of Diane’s assessment. She backed the car up and then slowly pulled it forward towards the gap near the very far edge of the freeway. The highways tended to be either above the surrounding communities or down below them, either way they always had very stout metal railings behind which were six to twelve foot high metal walls to help reduce sound to the surrounding communities. When Amelia pulled up to the gap in the wreckage she thought Diane was right, the wreck was about three cars deep and looked clear after that. There was no movement anyway. She eased the car forward, the Cadillac purred along, like a jungle cat getting ready to pounce. They made it through the gap touching only once, when the car barely brushed against a mirror on one of the upright cars, causing it to bend outwards and remain at an odd angle after they passed.
There were bodies in the wrecks too, some of them were not dead, Amelia was not certain, but some looked undead too, trapped in the confines of the wreck unable to sate their appetites or free themselves. Amelia shuddered and made the sign of the cross, her ancient Catholic upbringing coming to the surface of her thoughts in a spurt of religiosity she had not felt since junior high. She did not even consider stopping to help those still living in their metal tombs.
Once beyond the first wreck they made another mile or perhaps a mile and a half towards the interstate seventy exchange before they were again slowed by wreckage. This one had brought down the railing between the eight lanes of highway and Amelia floored the caddy and hopped over the fencing onto the other lanes, beyond the wreck there was no way back to the ‘right’ way until the next exit, she went down the ‘on’ ramp traveled under the highway to the correct ‘on’ ramp and continued her journey.
“Should I just go through town, you think?” she asked Diane.
“Really dear it is up to you, I did not want to leave Mac Co. at all, you know that, but we had to and now I am just not sure where to go or how to get there. I think the highways will be faster, maybe take highway six west and then get back on interstate seventy east and loop around?”
“We-ell, I dunno. Highway six has all those low spots; if there is a wreck there we won’t have any chance of getting by. Of course if there is a wreck on this highway we probably won’t get by either. I think we need to be prepared to walk at some point.”
“No, never that, we can’t, they are out there.”
“Diane, a good wreck and we are done, you know that, the gas will only last so long and I will drive us as long as we can, but we might not make it through even then. You know side streets might be better, if we have to we can always drive up on the lawns or go down a block, we might make it that way.”
“Well let’s get up to highway six and see how it is, west is west, right? If we can make it a couple miles west we could back track onto other roads and get through. I bet seventy and twenty are totally snarled up.”
Amelia bit her lip and looked pensive, “Okay, I think that will work, we could take six to Wadsworth or Kipling and then use side streets to get around any accidents. I hope there are no wrecks on any bridges. This is no good Diane, we have no way of knowing which way to go.”
Diane reached out and turned on the radio, setting it on ‘scan’, it stopped a couple times on ‘canned’ stations before stopping on a news channel where a dj was taking calls. The caller was sobbing hysterically, demanding to know what to do, what to do? He hung up on her after a couple of moments, the next call was a man preaching God and hellfire, stating the end of the world had come and all sinners must repent now that judgment was at hand. He too was cut off in mid spiel. The next caller was a woman who was calming asking what she should do, she and her kids were hiding in their house and had seen several zombies wandering the streets outside, she did not have any weapons and did not think her house could stand up to a serious assault by anyone. Her husband had taken the car to work and she had no transportation, anyway where would she go?
The dj responded calmly and said that she might consider opening her doors slightly, maybe making it appear that the house had already been broken into, there were reports that that tactic had saved more than one person before. Then she should take her kids and herself into the attic with as much food and water as she should carry, in fact get the attic squared away first, then ransack the house a bit before hiding. His further advice was just to wait, he was sure the military or National Guard would be on the scene soon.
After that call he gave the station id, the phone number and said that he would take callers with serious questions, he could not accept calls from end of the world zealots, or hysterical people, he was taking calls straight from the phone lines as he was not really a dj, the real one was currently sleeping, and the other people at the station were trying to secure the building as best they could.
Diane had her cell phone out and was dialing the stations number repeatedly trying to get through as Amelia crept her car along towards the six exit.
After about forty five minutes she finally got through. Amelia saw Diane go from a frantic, scared older woman into the dominatrix of steel that she remembered in her few dealings with her at Mac Co.
“This is WWEB, you’re on caller.” said the dj.
“Yes, hi, I am in a car heading down interstate twenty five north, we need to know if interstate seventy west or highway six are clear and how to get through town to Arvada. I can report that there are several major accidents on interstate twenty five, but no people or zombies up on the highway. The accidents block the northbound highway near exit one ninety nine and almost fully block it near the Hampden avenue exit. Can anyone give us advice on where to go?”
The dj paused for a moment, then said, “Okay ladies and gentleman we have a woman in need of assistance, has anyone been out on the highways since yesterday evening? If so how are they? Or has anyone gotten through from south Denver to Arvada? How did you do it? Anything else caller?”
“The zombies are not all slow and shambling like one of your last callers said, they can be very quick and strong too, we ran into one at the Mac Co building where we were holed up for quite a few hours. The zombies, I think they gain strength from eating…eating us, then they move quicker. I have seen this with my own eyes. And they can talk, so be wary of everyone, some might pretend to be ‘alive’ to get close enough to you to attack.”
“Oh-kay caller,” the dj sounded dubious, “The information is out there people, watch out for talking, fast moving zombies. Good information or bad? Call in with road advice and your opinion on the zombie’s speed and voice capabilities.”
The phone clicked and the dj went off the air, but remained on Diane’s cell phone, “What do you mean they can talk? Like they could call me on the phone? Are you serious?”
Diane replied, “Yeah, deadly serious, the one we met refrained from eating us right away, she had some sort of ‘gang’ going and wanted certain members of the gang to eat us. She was also speaking to one of our co-workers through the door, they had a gun, but thought we were all dead, so apparently did not want to risk fighting this…woman for no gain. She spoke to us and to him, told him we were all dead, she lied to him.”
“What?” asked Diane.
“Double shit. People have been calling, a few mobile types, like you. They had nowhere else to go.”
“What do you mean?”
“I gave them directions on how to get here.” he whispered.
“You gotta get out of there! You don’t know who you were talking to, you need to get out now. How long ago was it?”
“I gotta go.” The phone went dead and music came on the radio, the dj promised to return after a brief moment to refresh his cup of coffee.
Diane held her phone away from her face and stared at it a moment, then looked at the radio. The canned music continued to play.