Chapter 27

Submitted by Zombieman on Mon, 09/18/2017 - 00:19

The truck finally gave out as they coasted into the highway patrol parking lot. Stewart put it into neutral and they coasted into a parking space, gently bumping into the curb where the sidewalk began.

“That was perfect.” Bill said.

“Only if there is a car here we can use.” Stewart answered, “We might just have to walk.”

“What do you mean?” asked Bill, pointing to the patrol cars in the lot around them.

Stewart laughed, “Oh Bill! Police cars are driven into the ground, these could all be piles of shit, parked out here to make people think the place is full. I know, I’ve driven enough P-O-Ses over the years.

“P-O-Ses? Oh yeah, piles of shit, got it. But these can’t all be bad! They just can’t!”

“I hope not.”

“How’s Javier?” Bill called back to Max and Ruben. Both men were sitting in the truck bed with the younger man.

“He’s still out. He isn’t bleeding anymore either.” said Max.

“Well, he’s got that going for him then.” Stewart muttered.

Bill and Stewart got out of the car with their weapons and both leaned up against the truck bed to look at Javier and talk to the others.

“How do we do this?” Bill asked with a nod towards the building.

“Well they probably have a board or something with the patrol car keys hanging from it, or maybe a slot system, like you might put mail in. The keys should match up the cars out here. See how each vehicle is numbered? We just find the keys, run them out here and start the car.”

“Let’s look for the better looking cars first.” said Ruben, “No sense pulling all the keys if can find something good in the first place.”

“That sounds fair. Anyone have a pencil or paper to write down a few car numbers?” Bill asked.

“I think I saw some in the glove box.” Max said.

Ruben pulled out a small notepad and a thick pencil like the kind used for marking wood on a construction site. “How about you sit here Max and let us know if any zombies get close? The three of us will find us some wheels.”

Max nodded, “Yeah, sure, okay. The place is empty though….”

“But?” prompted Stewart.

“Well, I couldn’t see Aubrey. I’m concerned; maybe there are others who know her trick?”

“We’ll be careful. You look with your eyes as well as your mind and we should be fine.”

“Unless they come out of the woods behind the station.” Max had a clear view of the road in both directions, but the forest grew right to the edge of the building in the back.

“Yeah, unless they come from that direction. You just watch your part.”

Ruben had already gathered up the numbers of three of the newer model state patrol vehicles by the time Bill retrieved the pen and paper from the glove box.

“Check this out.” Bill said, showing Max the pen. It looked about half the length of a normal pen. “I think it got cut in half by a bullet passing through the glove box.”

Stewart snorted, “Men!”

“Kinda cool.” said Max, examining it, “Does it still write?”

“Yeah.” Bill said, demonstrating on a piece of scrap paper, “Stewart you’ve got to enjoy the little things.”

“I have, I slept with Max.” Stewart quipped.

“Very funny, seriously check it out.” Max said.

“It’s a broken pen.”

“No, not just that. It’s a pen that was shot. By a bullet. That makes it cool. Especially cause it still writes.” Bill said.

Bill headed to the opposite end of the parking lot from Ruben and inspected the decrepit vehicles parked there. “I think these are the really shitty ones they were parting out.” He called back to them.

“Then fuck it, come back here with your cool pen and we’ll go find the keys for the cars Ruben found.” Stewart called back.

“I’ll feel back leaving the truck here, I mean, it got us through a lot. Look how shot up it is and it still works, except for the radiator thing.” said Max.

Stewart shook her head, “I suppose. We are going to loot the place for any food and hopefully we’ll find a fuel tank for topping off the cars over on that side of the building. That looks like the service area.” She was pointing towards the side Ruben had gone.

“Yeah, there’s a tank.” Ruben said, catching the end of their conversation. “I got five numbers, one or two of them ought to be good.”

“Let’s go find the keys then.”

Bill caught up with them as they approached the entrance to the building. The doors were glass, with metal frames, one of them was shattered into small green squares on the ground. Inside the building was dark and ominous looking, all three of them pulled out flashlights before entering. Ruben tucked the notepad into his front pocket and pulled up his shotgun.

Without a word Stewart went in first. Looking about she saw the place was a mess. There were dark stains covering much of the front lobby and a rotting corpse in state patrol khaki colored clothing lay in front of the main desk.

“Whew-whee. I’ll never get used to the smell.” Stewart said, approaching the bloated corpse.

“What are you doing?” Bill asked, choking on the foul air.

“He probably has the keys to one of the cars that works in his pocket. This is an easy one.” Stewart rolled the body over and jumped back as the maggot ridden corpse disintegrated as it rolled.

The quiet sounds of thousands of maggots wriggling and eating was made more pronounced by Stewart disturbing the corpse they were eating.

“Fuck, this is disgusting!” Stewart pulled out her combat knife and used the tip to poke at the man’s belt, where there was a key chain attached. Stewart prodded at it until it unclipped and dropped to the floor by the sprawling filth that had been his stomach. With a sliding motion she shoved the keys through the muck until they were on a clean part of the floor. Stewart looked at the keys, then at the men.

“You know, I think I need a rag or something.”

“A bucket of bleach?” suggested Ruben, holding his nose with the same hand that was holding his gun.

“Just leave them Stewart, we’ll find something to clean them up inside and bring it back. And for fuck’s sake don’t roll any more bodies over! I don’t think I could stand the smell again.” said Bill.

Stewart just nodded and moved the keys over closer to the front door.

“Where now?” asked Ruben.

Stewart shrugged, “I would guess that way. At least that is the way to the garage and the fuel tank, so I would think they would keep the keys closer to that end for doing maintenance.”

They passed three more bodies along the way, but Stewart didn’t approach them as she had the first. All were very badly decomposed corpses. Most looked like they had been shot in the head, but with the amount of decomposition it was difficult to tell. The smell, if anything, became worse as they made their way further into the building.

“God. It is bad. I think I am going to puke.” Bill said.

“You’ll be okay. Just don’t think about it.” replied Ruben.

“If you do hurl, don’t do it in the middle of the hallway. I don’t want to step in it if we have to run away.” advised Stewart.

“Thanks, Stewart. Your usual compassion is appreciated.”

“It’s here.” Stewart said, pointing her light into a darkened recess at one wall that was covered with hooks that had numbers above them.

“Look, a high tech vehicle key solution.” She pointed to the wall.

“It works, why mess with something effective?” Ruben asked.

“You’d think they would have an Apple app or something.” Stewart said.

“A what?” Ruben asked.

“An Apple…never mind old man. Something on the computer.”

“I know what an iPhone is. But why would anyone make a program for state patrol cars?” asked Ruben, genuinely puzzled.

“Really Ruben, I was kind of joking.”

“Oh, I don’t think I get your sense of humor.”

“It’s the age difference.”

“Cut it out you two, let’s just find the keys and get out of here.” Bill said.

Stewart turned the handle of the door and swung it open to step into what was really just a closet sized space. She took the paper Ruben handed her and looked for the numbers on the board and came up with four sets of keys. She kept looking about after that, even rifling through the desk set at the back of the closet.

“I can’t find any keys marked for the gas pumps.”

“They are probably in the shop. That’s where I would keep them, closer to the pumps.” Ruben said.

“Probably, do we want to go check or see if we can get any of these cars started first?” asked Bill.

“Yeah, let’s check the cars first, we can fuck around with the pumps afterward, if the cars are out of fuel.” said Stewart.

The three of them wandered around the garage looking for anything useful, but found nothing they wanted to carry out with them.

“We should check the armory, see if they got anything left.” said Stewart.

“If we can find it.” Bill said, “Lead the way.”

Stewart took the lead and they walked back across the lobby of the state patrol station into what looked more like an office area. Looking down the hallways at the ‘T’ intersection beyond, Stewart shrugged and chose to go left. Luck was with her and they came to an open doorway with concrete steps leading down.

“Dark.” Stewart said, pointing her light down the stairs.

“Max said the place was empty. So I guess this feeling of unease is just nerves?” Bill said, flicking his light over the walls and floor ahead of them.

“Dark and man don’t mix well together.” Ruben added, as he turned on his own small light back on.

The three headed down the stairs and found a sign with directions on it, one arrow pointed towards a ‘Gym and Locker Room’, the other arrow said, ‘Shooting Range’. Stewart hardly paused before heading towards the shooting range. There were two doors at the end of the corridor; both had small rectangular squares that ran parallel to the door frame just above the latch. Stewart shined her light into the area directly ahead of her and took a quick look.

“That’s the range, it’s built out underground, it must extend beyond the walls of the building. Pretty nice really, for a headquarters built out in the middle of nowhere. So that must mean this other door is the armory.”

Stewart went to try the latch, expecting it to be locked, but the handle gave easily, and she gently pushed it open. Inside was what looked like a workshop, with heavy benches, vises and tools for servicing firearms neatly stacked on shelves around the perimeter of the room. Directly across from the door they had come in was another open door, this one was made out of a fine mesh of metal, backed by iron bars.

“Looks like someone beat us to it. Maybe they left us some ammo?” said Stewart as she moved forward cautiously.

“Why would the police have assault rifle ammunition?” asked Bill.

“After all the civilian shootings, are you kidding me? Every department has a few assault rifles around. Hell, even a few of our cars in Denver had military grade assault rifles. The only difference is the rifles civilians have, even law enforcement, fire .223 ammo. The rifles Draper gave us are the real deal, they are chambered for 5.56mm ammunition. But for those of you who were asleep during Draper’s mission briefings, he told us we can safely fire .223 ammo out of them. So maybe, they’ll have bullets we can use.” Stewart stepped into the open doorway of the armory and said, “It looks pretty cleaned out…wait, hey, pay dirt! C’mon Bill, let’s put your muscles to use, I think I found us a few reloads!”

Bill joined Stewart in the armory and like her, he saw the empty gun racks hanging on the walls. There were, however, a few boxes of ammunition on the shelves to the right side of the door. Stewart was holding open a military ammo box, one of three that was still on the floor beneath the lowest shelf. The box had a piece of duct tape over the side of the olive drab color, the tape had “.223 - 840” written on it in black marker.

“It’s our caliber! Grab an end would you?” Stewart asked.

Bill bent down and brushed her hands away from the other side, he picked the box up and stood easily. “I can get it. You and Ruben just light the place up so I don’t trip over anything. Are we going to take it all?”

“We burned through a lot back at the hotel. I think we should take two boxes of it and leave the third tucked under here, so we can get to it if we need to later.” Stewart said.

“Fine by me. Are you sure we can fire this stuff?”

“There will be some loss of accuracy, you won’t notice, but I might miss a few shots once in a while.” Stewart said with a faint smile on her face.

“Thanks. I’ll just fire twice to make sure I hit the target.”

“You don’t already?”

“There is no winning with you, is there?” asked Bill.

“Talking is a competitive sport.”

“It shouldn’t always be.”

“Oh, I am not that bad.” said Stewart, “Can you help me with this other one, or do you want me to double you up so I can keep a better lookout?”

“Double me up, they aren’t that heavy.”

“I know, I just like having my hands free. Even if the building is empty.”

“You ladies ready to go yet?” called Ruben from the workroom.

“Yeah, let’s roll.” Stewart said, leading the way.

The three made their way back outside. Max was sitting cross legged in the back of the truck with his eyes closed. Without looking he said, “Did you find what we need?”

“What are you doing? Taking up meditation?” Bill asked.

Max blushed, “No, but Aubrey said I might try expanding my ‘talent’ by exercising it a little more, trying to build it up, instead of just using it as it is.”

Stewart stared at him for a moment. Max was facing them, but his eyes were still closed. “Is it working?”

Slowly Max turned his face towards her, his eyes remained closed, “Yeah, I think she might have something there.”

“Open your damned eyes! It is too freaky talking to you like that.” Stewart said.

Max cracked open one eye, “Sure thing. Zombies coming, but slowly, through the woods, they’re about a mile away.”

“Shit. I thought your girl said the way would be clear.” said Stewart.

“I think by ‘way’, she meant the highway. We’re off of that path by more than a little.”

Stewart handed Ruben and Bill each a set of keys, and kept two for herself, “Let’s get these checked.” After a moment she turned back to Max, “How is our boy there?”

Max reached out and put his hand on Javier. He pressed down on him again, harder, “What the fuck?”

“What?”

“He’s, he’s hard!”

“Gross Max, check at his neck instead, feel for a pulse.” Stewart quipped.

Max blushed again for the second time in as many minutes, getting a laugh out of the others. “Not there! I felt his stomach, it’s like a rock.” Max moved his hand up to the young man’s neck, “His neck is stiff too. No, not stiff; hard as a fucking rock.”

“What?” Bill said, climbing into the back of the truck on the other side of Javier. Both men put their hands on Javier and pressed his body, which was as hard as a rock.

“What the hell? Could it be internal bleeding, Stewart?” asked Bill.

“How should I know? Bleeding inside his neck? No, I don’t think so. Plus he isn’t swollen at all, just…I dunno, dense? Max can you zombie-vision him and see if he is still alive?”

Concentrating for a moment, Max nodded, “He is fine, he looks…good Lord! His body is changing as I look at it. His leg, it’s, like white, like everything he has, all his energy, it’s there working.”

“Good. Leave him. Bill, let’s check these cars, whatever happened to us, happened to Javier too, he’ll be fine. Probably.” Stewart said.

Bill gave Ruben a sideways glance, “What about you, Ruben, can you tell us anything about Javier.”

Ruben returned his gaze and said levelly, “I think he’ll be fine, if we can get him back to Iowa. Are we going to wait here until those zombies get here or what?”

The three of them soon found all four state trooper vehicles, they all looked good and started without any difficulty at all. Each of them drove one of the cars over to the broken down pickup truck and parked it.

“I took the better of the two, but they both looked good. You guys didn’t do too bad either. How are they on fuel?” asked Stewart.

“About a quarter tank.” Ruben said.

“Same here. I thought they would fuel them up at the end of the shift?” Bill asked.

Stewart shrugged her shoulders and said, “Don’t look at me I was a city cop, not a state trooper. My tank is hovering at about half.”

“Okay then, let’s go see about fueling them up. Are we taking all three?” Bill asked.

“I think so. I can ride alone, we’ll put Max and Ruben in one and you and Javier in the other.”

“You get a car to yourself?” Bill shrugged his shoulder, “Okay, I guess.”

“I’ll drive point, so if the shit hits the fan we won’t risk the entire group.”

They manhandled Javier into Bill’s car, putting him at an awkward angle in the back seat. The man’s body didn’t bend at all, he was as stiff as a sailor in a whorehouse after six months at sea and that made positioning him difficult.

“This is messed up. It is like he has rigor mortis or something.” Max muttered after they finally got Javier in the seat diagonally.

“But he is doing okay, as far as you can tell?” Stewart asked.

“Yeah, I guess. I can see his colors pretty well and….and Aubrey was right, I should have been trying to use this power I have, test it and strengthen it. I can’t see his bones, not directly, but when I look close I can see where his body is flowing around his bones, which leaves some hollow spaces. It’s weird, but I swear I can see that his leg is almost whole again, no blood flowing around the damaged hollow space. When I look at both legs they look almost symmetrical.”

“Portal x-ray machine. I’ll add that to your list of talents.” Stewart clapped Max on the back and walked him over to ‘his’ cruiser. “You shouldn’t have any problems with this baby. It’s automatic, but has paddle shifting, you know what that is?”

“No.”

“Think of it like an override for the automatic transmission, you can force the car into a lower or higher gear if you need to accelerate faster, I doubt you’ll use it to shift up much.”

Max examined the steering wheel controls and nodded, “Okay, I can’t see how that is useful, but I guess I get it. I’ll mess with it when we get on the road. The zombies are closer. We better get that fuel and get out of here.”

Ruben had the trunk to their car open and let out a long whistle. He held the bomb in one hand as if he were intending to put it into the trunk.

“What?”

“A box of crap.” Ruben replied.

“Good crap or bad crap?” asked Max.

“That’s another thing I like about you, Max. You have different categories of ‘crap’.” Stewart said walking around to the back of the car. She took one look and said, “Mixed crap, we got nuggets of gold here, but other bits are only corn.” She reached into a large cardboard box and brought out a short, heavy, machete. The blade was sharp and ugly looking. Someone had ground it down into a sharper point, leaving the blade about eighteen inches long.

“Why would the police need that?” asked Bill, walking over to them.

 The box contained all sorts of crude clubs, knives, swords, chains and other makeshift style weapons. Among the ‘bad crap’ were a few reasonable pieces of equipment, like the machete Stewart had. Max brought out a bowie style knife and pulled it out of its leather sheath.

He tested the blade with his finger tips and pulled it away quickly from his hand, a small drop of blood appeared on his ring finger.

“Ouch! Fucking-a! That’s sharp!”

Stewart laughed, “This is probably confiscated stuff, things they took off people they were arresting or found when they searched their cars.”

“Wouldn’t it go into an evidence locker?” Max asked.

“Oh, Max! You don’t know the half of how law enforcement works, do you? If we busted people for every little thing they did wrong we’d need three times as many jails. No, these, I can guarantee, were just taken off of the criminally stupid who hadn’t done anything wrong. Think of it as a safety precaution. No sane person is going to come crawling back to the officer who took their bowie knife and ask for it back. In return the weapon is out of the hands of someone who probably didn’t need it.”

“But that’s…stealing!”

“Right. So you’d rather serve a few months in jail for carrying a concealed weapon than give up your, what? Hundred dollar knife? Most people figure out that not spending time in jail and money on lawyers is a better deal. Plus this stuff isn’t in evidence, so it would likely just disappear if anyone complained anyway.”

“So why did they keep it?” Max asked.

“I dunno. I knew guys back in Denver who did this too, as long as it wasn’t a gun. They showed each other what they found on the guys and laughed about it. Kind of a macho thing. But kind of not, any one of the guys this stuff came off of, could have turned it on the officer or someone else. Maybe they used it as a way of keeping score. You want to know the real shit of it? I mean if these weapons had been put into the evidence locker?”

“What?”

“They probably would have been sold at auction to make more money for law enforcement. We destroyed guns in Denver and I don’t recall selling junk like this at auction, but I know other places did. Kind of a repeating cycle, huh? We confiscate, it gets sold to help buy us a new radar gun and then we might end up confiscating it again.” Stewart looked the machete over and experimentally tucked it into the back of her belt. “Does it make my ass look fat?”

Max stared at the woman’s posterior, not knowing how to answer. Combat fatigues made everyone’s ass look fat, in Max’s opinion. Finally he said, “It makes you look like a central American revolutionary. Real Che Guevara.”

Stewart tilted her head sideways and looked over her shoulder at him, “Max, you say the nicest things sometimes!”

“You won’t be able to sit in the car with it like that.” Max pointed out.

“Oh, I’ll just let it ride up a little and tuck it back down when I get out.”

“I hate to interrupt your bonding, but where are the zombies at, Max?” Bill asked.

“Close. We’re probably going to have to clear them. I think some supers are coming up from further out.”

“Well, let’s get the cars pulled around and see about filling them.”

Bill’s vehicle, by chance was the first to the garage area, the yard was surrounded by a chain link fence that was locked with a chain and padlock. He got out of his car and looked the gate over as the first zombie stumbled out of the brush twenty yards away. Stewart, who was in the last car in line, got out of her vehicle, she was holding the machete in one hand and approached the zombie head on.

Max stepped out of his car and steadied his rifle on the top of the vehicle. The zombie stumbled towards Stewart and she swiped it in the side of the head, slicing off the top third and sending the bloody-black hairy bit flying away into the grass. Oddly it resembled a mole hill.

The zombie toppled and Stewart cleaned off her machete on the man’s overalls.

“Disgusting. How’s that gate coming Bill?” Max asked.

“I’ve got it open. Let’s move on in.”

Ducking his head into the car Max said, “Ruben, would you drive? I’ll stay here and shoot zombies as they show up.”

“Sure. I can drive.” Ruben said sliding over to the wheel.

Max took up a position at the gate and waved the old man and Stewart through. She paused and her passenger window, next to Max, rolled down.

“Where ya headed good looking?” she asked with a grin.

“Very funny. There are a few more coming, I’ll stay here and make sure they don’t get in. You just fill up and get back here.”

Stewart looked at Max and then at the pump, which was about forty feet away. Bill and Ruben were already stopped close to it. Finally she nodded, “Jeez, we just lost you, don’t go vanishing again on us.”

“There’s no fog. I’ll stay in sight at all times. Go on.”

Stewart drove off and left Max staring into the woods. Some of the zombies approaching were moving faster than the others. He turned his gaze away from where they were coming from and towards the slower ones, keeping his mind’s eye open at all times. He didn’t know what he was looking for, he was going by instinct, knowing something was going to happen. Max reverted to using his normal vision and checked out the gate, the chain was still hanging loosely wrapped through the chain links. One end was weighed down with a broken padlock; Bill hadn’t used a tool to break it, not that Max had seen.  

“So you’re still strong, I see.” Max muttered quietly about Bill. Checking on the approaching zombies he noticed the ones that had been approaching quickly had slowed down to a more cautious pace. Concentrating Max tried to get into their heads, to see what they were thinking. Despite his efforts he got nothing. Well almost nothing, while he was watching he noticed the slightest of pulses, a merest trace of their dead, bluish energy that raced from one of them to the slower shamblers off to Max’s right side. The dead on that side stopped, just inside the tree line and out of sight from normal vision.

“What the fuck.” Max said softly while continuing to watch. He noticed several more pulses until all the shamblers to his right all stopped in a line parallel to the tree line. With growing excitement he realized what he must be seeing was the ‘leader’ giving the lesser zombies orders. Redoubling his efforts to break into the super zombies mind didn’t get him inside its head, but when the next pulse came out Max felt it clearly, it said, ‘Move’. The order sprang from the super zombie and raced towards the waiting zeds to the right. Max grabbed the message, and time seemed to slow down as he disseminated it. Then he changed it.

It was a gut reaction, nothing Max would have done had he had time to think about it. He changed the message to ‘Move further right’. The shamblers all headed off that direction along the inside edge of the woods. Max was really excited now, he thought he had unlocked a way to force the zombies back and proceeded to issue them new orders, to head back into the woods, to attack the supers, to stop…it all amounted to nothing. No little blue data packet flew from Max’s head out to the shamblers. He couldn’t create a message on his own.

The super realized something had gone wrong and sent another pulse along to his minions; the second time around Max snagged it easily and reinterpreted it to ‘Move back into the woods’. He was disappointed that he could not send out orders of his own, but this was new, and useful. It came as a complete shock when the padlock flew up from the gate and belted him in the side of the head.

“Holy fuck!” Max yelled, thinking, ‘one of them is telekinetic!’  It took him a moment to realize that no one had flung the lock at him using telekinesis, the lock had merely been shot with a rifle and bounced into the side of his head. While he was so busy keeping an eye on the super zombies messages one of them had moved forward far enough to take a shot at him with a rifle.

Over at the fuel pump, the others were running towards the fence closest to the woods raising their rifles and firing randomly into the trees.

“What?” Max wondered, then he heard Stewart yelling at him to get down. Max fell to the ground out of sight as another bullet whizzed by in the place he had been standing a moment before.

A volley of gunfire rolled out of the woods, forcing his friends to take cover behind the equipment in the work yard. Max had thrown himself down behind a pile of what looked like rail road ties sitting just inside the gate. Reaching out he intercepted yet more orders for the shamblers and twisted them to his own end. The orders were coming so frequently that Max didn’t have time to do more than change them to basic marching orders, he settled on directing the zombies to head back into the woods away from his position. Max safely watched the rest of the physical fight unfold while constantly shifting the super’s orders to the shamblers.

The return gunfire was more accurate than Bill liked, it must be true that the zombies could see the living through obstacles, not that he had doubted Max’s word. He looked over at his companions, then beyond them for a moment to where Max was laying with his eyes shut forty feet away. No one was hurt yet. Thoughts of how to proceed were spinning through his head when he heard Stewart swear.

“Fuck. I liked that water bottle you assholes!” her hip was dripping where a bullet had caught the bottle in her belt pouch. “Indestructible my ass.” Stewart muttered looking at the broken piece of plastic. She caught Bill’s gaze and nodded, “So? Ideas?”

“Get in the cars and drive?”

“We need to fuel up.”

“Oh shit.” Bill said, looking behind them at the fuel tank and the three squad cars. The pump was not powered, it was a simple gravity pump and he had left it in the tank of his car, as he watched the fuel filled the tank and then started to pour out onto the ground.

“Go fix that cowboy, I’ll run interference.”

“Wait! Stewart!” Ruben cried, a moment too late.

The woman took a short leap to the top of what looked like a blue delivery van, it was an impressive jump from a kneeling position and she didn’t stop there, she ran down the length of the van and vaulted over the six foot high chain link fence and into the woods. Bullets tried to catch her as she flew, but they were microseconds too slow. Bill paused to watch Stewart’s progress open mouthed. Ruben was more practical; he ran back to the overflowing car and shut the pump off.

“C’mon Bill!” the old man yelled shutting the fuel tank. He ran around to the driver’s side and pulled the car twenty feet forward. Bill was still staring at him open mouthed when he got out.

“Bill, move the other car up!” Ruben yelled.

Spurred to action Bill raced towards the second cruiser and hopped in, the keys were still in the ignition and he pulled it forward until Ruben could slot the nozzle into the tank to begin filling it up. After getting the pump open he ducked down to the pavement taking cover from the sporadic bullets flying out of the woods. He still couldn’t see anything to target.

Bill shut the car off, engaged the emergency brake and ran back to Stewart’s cruiser. Thankfully, she had left the keys in the ignition. He moved her car up until it was touching the bumper of the cruiser being fueled. With any luck Ruben could fill this one up without having to move either of them again.

From the woods the gun fire was intensifying. No more bullets were flying their way, Bill looked at Ruben and yelled, “You think you can handle this?”

“Sure, go help her.” Ruben yelled back.

Bill ran towards the exit where Max was lying, stopping just inside the gate and using the thick square-cut logs as cover. “What are you doing?”

“I’m concentrating. I can…do things to them Bill.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can change what they say to the shamblers. I am making the weak zombies go away. It’s hard to explain. I kept trying to do what Aubrey said, just kept looking at them and I can see them when they talk to each other.”

“Ah, yeah, okay. That’s…good?”

“It is. There is more to it than that, I can change it sometimes. I think I made it so the slow zombies won’t eat us.”

“Max, can we talk about this later? I need to know where Stewart is.”

“She’s in there. With them.” Max said, gesturing, eyes still closed, to the woods.

“We should go help her.”

“I am helping her!” Max said, exasperated.

“So she is alive?”

“She is thriving.”