Short Story: The Dead of Winter

I guess you guys have noticed that I have been a bit hit or miss lately in this blog. Busy time of year with the family and the Poetry hasn’t been flowing like I like it to. Anyway, I thought I would fill in a few days of empty blogging by posting a few of my short stories that fit the holiday season. I know this is a departure from the normal blog activity, but I thought you might enjoy something a bit different and if you enjoy them feel free to support my self-published efforts by buying a couple of them. Might be a nice treat to fill up some of those new Kindles and E-Readers. Enjoy. Merry Christmas!

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A short story about an apocalyptic nightmare in a crisp frozen landscape filled with winter and living corpses.Two men try to find safety in this dead world. Hoping to ride out the night. Hoping to find warmth and shelter. Hoping not to become food for the zombies.

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Eric surveyed the road ahead and behind him. The world was filled with death. The highway was littered with silent, rusting cars sitting on rotting tires, waiting on drivers who were never going to drive them again. Ripped apart, torn open and partially eaten corpses littered the ground in various forms of decay. The corpses ranged from children to elderly adults. The zombies had done a number on them when they went into their “feeding frenzy.” The bodies that weren’t on the ground or pulled from their cars were still seated, and most of them still strapped into their seat belts, like they were still driving to whatever destination they had been going to before the world fell into death’s harsh embrace.

Eric breathed in deep and felt the cold air settle into his lungs. Bitter winter winds whipped at his face and tore at his clothes, trying to get inside the protective layers. Flakes of snow fell from the sky, nothing more than flurries.

“It’s something,” Eric replied, looking down at the white and grey cat in its carrier. He then put his eyes back on the man sitting with his back against a car.

Eric stood about six feet tall, with a long beard, and long hair. He had been alone for quite some time, so his appearance would be enough to frighten most people. He wasn’t emaciated or thin, actually quite muscular, but the lack of a good shower was starting to catch up with him. Dirt now clung to anything and everything it could attach itself to. He did his best to stay clean, but without hot soapy water there was only so much he could do.

“I guess we should go check him out. It’d be nice to have a conversation again. However -” Eric took out his pistol and checked the chambers. Six bullets accounted for, waiting for launch, locked and loaded. “- we will have this little guy just in case, just in case that guy isn’t what he appears to be.” He began to walk, carrier in his left hand, gun in his right.

Ten minutes later, they were almost up to the spot where the man was sitting with his back against a car. The dead person behind the wheel was still strapped in. The zombie or zombies that had attacked her had torn a gigantic hole in her neck, eaten her left arm, her left ear, and most of her left leg.

Eric approached the man with cautious steps as he sat the carrier down. He moved, and Eric stopped. He pointed the gun at the man dressed only in jeans, tee-shirt, and tennis shoes. The song “The Trees” sprung into Eric’s head as he looked at the RUSH shirt the man was wearing, flapping in the wind, the fibers barely able to keep in any warmth.

The man was doing his best to stay warm, but even holding himself with his arms crossed over his chest wasn’t working.

Eric moved closer to the guy – grip on the gun tight, trigger finger ready in case it wasn’t human. “Hey buddy? You okay?” Gun still pointed down at the guy just in case this was a zombie who had learned a new attack technique.

“I’m cold. You wouldn’t have something I could wear?” The man asked, finally noticing Eric and the gun in his face. His teeth chattered like tapping skeletal fingers as he sat there, trying not to freeze to death.

Eric put the gun back in its holster when he realized it was human and not zombie. He took the backpack from his back and dropped it onto the ground. He rummaged around inside and produced a dirty, well-worn sweatshirt. Eric handed the sweat shirt to the guy. “Put this on. It’ll keep you warm.”

The man took the sweatshirt and did as he was requested. He sat there a moment and collected his thoughts, the fibers blocking out the cold, warmth like a slow drip returning to his body.

“Thirsty?” Eric asked, taking a seat beside him.

“Yeah,” the man replied.

“How did you get out here without a coat?” Eric asked, handing the guy a bottle of water.

“Got in a nasty fight with a swarm of corpses,” the man replied, and then chugged the bottle of water. “Lost my coat, weapons, everything but my life. When I was running I had no idea how cold it was or how cold I was. Just collapsed against this car. Not sure what to do next when you showed up. Thanks again.”

“Sure.” Eric let the cat out of its cage and the animal placed its purring frame on Eric’s lap. He stroked the cat and talked. “Name’s Eric Holt. You got one I could call you?”

“Sorry. Bobby Johnson.”

They shook hands.

“Are we safe out here?” Bobby asked, concerned.

“I think we’re okay for now. I haven’t seen any corpses for a while. We should find some shelter soon though. There’s a big storm rolling in.”

“How can you tell?”

“I’ve got a nose for weather.” Eric tapped his nose after he said that, and smiled.

The two sat there a moment in silence. The cat’s purr and the cold bitter wind the only sounds in this silent world. The snow flurries had ended, and now it was starting to snow – small flakes, quickly growing larger. The snow was in attack mode, and it wouldn’t be long before the ground was covered.

Bobby turned his face up to the snow and let the coolness land on it. At first, the flakes melted and ran down his cheeks. Then they started to congeal and coat. Bobby shook his head free from the white invaders.

“We should get moving.”

“Where to?”

“Forward,” Eric replied, standing up. The cat leapt off his lap and started pouncing after the snow as it fell.

“Where’s forward?”

Eric leaned down and helped Bobby up. “I don’t know. I don’t really have a plan. I’ve just been walking and hoping to find some place to call home for a while.”

“No family.”

“Zero,” Eric replied, without saying anymore on the subject.

Bobby didn’t try to pry and just left it alone. When a man wants to talk, he’ll talk. Until then, you have to just give him space.

Eric slung the backpack over his left shoulder and put the gun in his right hand, finger inches from the trigger. He picked up the cat carrier and started to move. Bobby as well as the cat followed after him.

*

Dusk was settling in the world around them, the snow falling as heavy as it’d fallen all day, and little did they know, zombies were starting to move in.

“Eric, can you stop? My feet feel weird,” Bobby replied, as he leaned against a car. The four occupants inside of the car were partially eaten and frozen.

Eric stopped and put the carrier down. The cat let out a soft meow as it sat there and watched the scene unfold. In the dim light, Eric knelt down and looked at Bobby’s feet. He’d given Bobby some extra clothes for the walk – a warm hat for his head and ears, gloves, and another sweat shirt. They’d gotten his body warm, but forgot about his feet. The tennis shoes Bobby was wearing were soaked through, and it was obvious that the feet needed some immediate warmth. It would be hard to contend with frost bite in a world like this.

“How long has it been?”

“A while.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to slow us down.”

From somewhere out in the growing darkness they heard a moan. It was distant, but it was still a sound they didn’t need to hear. The cat arched his back and let out a screech.

“Shit,” Eric replied, as his eyes looked into the gloom, searching between the heavy snow flakes, zombie instincts on high alert.

“What?” Bobby asked, as another moan erupted.

Both moans were close, too close for comfort.

“One moan we can handle. Two moans and we have trouble.”

“Zombies?” Bobby asked with growing concern in his voice.

“Yep,” Eric replied, taking out his gun.

Another moan.

Closer this time.

“We need to get inside.” Eric could see movement in the distance, dark shadows shambling forward, pushing slowly through the snow; and they were closing in. Eyes shifted from the zombies to the world at large. No shelter as far as he could see, just a long road full of dead snow-covered bodies and cars, neither of which would keep them safe. “I wish I was a vampire. You know, one of those Ann Rice ones, the ones who could see for miles and miles in the dark,” Eric replied, as the cat screeched again.

Another moan.

Much closer now.

“They sound like they’re right on top of us.”

“Got it!” Eric locked eyes on what they needed. It was dark and square, larger than the cars around it.

“Got what?”

“Come on.”

They picked up their feet and hurried through the thick snow. It was tough going, but fear made their muscles move. The moaning sounds faded into the distance as they moved as quickly as they had moved all day. Bobby could see something looming, growing closer. It was an oasis of safety, a big hulking dark mass.

What they were moving towards was a package delivery truck that looked like an armored vehicle from a Road Warrior movie, parked long ways across the fast and slow lanes. It looked like it’d been barreling through the cars before it came to a sudden and sliding halt. The front had a big spike sticking out of it with at least ten dead zombies hanging from it. Bullet holes to the head of each of them had stopped their moaning and taste for flesh. Zombies, as we all know, won’t stop until you stop them. The doors on either side of the cab had a gigantic spike welded to them with more zombies hanging around, dead, dark holes in the center of their foreheads. There was nothing on the sides of the truck, beyond the doors. It was smooth and flat like it was the day it rolled off the factory line, but dinged and severely scratched, covered in blood, as if this truck had been through a war zone.

They reached the truck and stopped.

Eric motioned to Bobby to stay put, handing the cat carrier to him as he cocked the gun and approached the truck. He tried the cab doors first, but they were both locked. A loud moan erupted from the dark, but this time it wasn’t behind them. It came from somewhere in front of them. It, like the moans behind them, was too close for comfort.

Bobby watched as Eric made his way down the side of the truck, stopping just before he reached the back. Like a cop in an old TV show, he leaned against the wall of the truck, raised the gun, took in a breath, and then stepped forward, dropping the gun to a shooting position as he did. There was no one there, human or zombie.

Eric tried the double doors, and he found them not just locked, but welded together. The moans erupted in the back ground like they enjoyed this latest fiasco.

Eric went back to the driver’s side door. He gripped the barrel of the gun and slammed the handle down into the window. It smashed on impact.

Eric grabbed a shoulder of one of the dead zombies hanging from the spike on the door, and hoisted himself up to the window. He hung there a moment with one hand, cleaning out the glass with the other. When he was sure it was clean, he dropped back down to the ground. He motioned to Bobby that it was safe to come over.

“Everything okay,” Bobby asked, as he stopped in front of Eric.

“I don’t hear anyone inside so I’m going to climb in and hoist you in after.”

“You mean, get up close to those things on the spike.”

Another moan, followed by more.

They were really close now.

“Do you want to stay out here?”

Bobby looked back into the dark. Night had decided to finally cast its veil upon the world, and it was pitch black for miles. He wasn’t sure how the zombies could see them or if they needed to see them, but he was sure of this – he couldn’t see anything. He could only hear those moans; and, now that the zombies were closer, he could also hear their shuffling feet as they pushed through the snow.

Bobby turned back to Eric, who was waiting for a response. “What are you waiting on man, go for it,” Bobby replied, anxious to be inside.

Eric said nothing as he grabbed the shoulder of a dead zombie on the spike and hoisted himself up to the window. The zombie had died with its mouth open and eyes wide. Bobby could see the whites of those eyes as they stared off into nothingness. He also noticed that the mouth was pointing in the direction of Eric’s now dangling legs. Would this be worth mentioning to him, or should he just let it go? He wasn’t sure about that; but, by the time he’d made his decision, Eric was already inside.

“Hand me the carrier.”

“What about me?”

The cat screeched, and nearby something metal banged. The sound came from a vehicle that couldn’t have been more than three or four cars away.

“You’re next,” Eric replied, leaning out of the truck.

Bobby grabbed hold of the zombie Eric had used to climb up with –those eyes staring at him – and hoisted himself up enough to get the carrier into Eric’s hands. Eric grabbed it and disappeared inside. He didn’t return for a moment or two.

Bobby scanned the dark as he heard a side mirror snap from a vehicle that couldn’t have been more than two cars away. Then the moans erupted. A chorus of them, and it sounded like they had formed a circle around the truck. A snapping of fingers pulled Bobby out of his trance. He looked up, and saw Eric leaning out, holding two hands down to him. Bobby scrambled up and grabbed Eric’s hands, and then was pulled upward with relative ease. He fell into the cab (empty – not even a frozen corpse) and landed on the driver’s seat as Eric scrambled to get out of the way. They were inside and safe, just as a zombie appeared beside the truck.

Bobby scrambled off the seat and looked around for Eric, who was standing in front of the door that led to the back of the truck, gun poised and ready. He grabbed the handle and slid the door open quickly.

The room was dark and empty, no signs of movement, living or dead.

“Is everything okay?” Bobby asked, peering over Eric’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” Eric replied, turning on a flashlight and holstering the gun. He took a moment to shine the light around as Bobby waited. “Found something.” Light flooded the room as Eric turned on a kerosene lamp. It was hanging off a hook in the center of the ceiling.

What the guys could see in the light was that the back of the truck was hollowed out and stripped down to its bare walls. There were no shelves in here or anything that would tell you it was the inside of a delivery truck.

In one corner there lay a couple of sleeping bags with plush pillows that had the pillowcase of a local hotel. In another corner there was a small fridge, like the kind you would find in a dorm room. There were also a couple of hammocks, some canned food, and a wood burning stove. The stove was at the back of the truck, near the double doors. A pipe to let out fumes ran from the top of the stove to the top of the truck. The hole looked like it had been cut with precision hands and sealed professionally. There was a box for wood beside the stove. Eric leaned down and pulled up the door to the cabinet. Empty.

He moved from there to the fridge and when he opened the door, the smell of rancid meat nearly tore off his nose. He closed the door quick before the smell got out and made itself home in the small room.

He let out a breath of frustration as his eyes scanned the walls. On them were hooks, and on a few of these hooks were weapons, hanging from straps. There was a club with spikes on the end of it, a bat with razors attached to it, a shotgun, and a sharpened garden hoe. Several hooks were empty, which led Eric to believe that whoever crafted the truck was either dead or long gone.

He checked the shot-gun to see if it was loaded. It was. He rummaged around for bullets and found several boxes inside a small cabinet, where he also found, bottled water, warm beer, an old cassette player, a cassette carrying case, and a very small TV.

Eric turned to face Bobby, who had taken off his shoes and placed his wet feet under one of the sleeping bags. He was rubbing his feet together, using the bags to help them warm up.

“How are they?” Eric asked, concerned.

“Red, but I don’t think there was any damage done.”

Eric went over to check on his friend’s feet. They were indeed bright red, but they were warming up fast, and any chance frostbite had of getting a hold of them was dying with each bit of warmth. “They’re looking good.”

A loud moan close by caught their attention, followed by several more. They both turned towards the sound.

“Are we safe in here?” Bobby asked.

Eric looked around as he let the cat out of the carrier. It stretched and purred as it explored its new home. “I think so, but we need wood to burn; and we need to get warm or we’ll probably freeze to death inside here tonight.”

Another moan, and then a chorus of the damned erupted outside, coming from all directions. It sounded like they were surrounded.

“Sounds like a lot of them,” Bobby replied.

“A regular feeding frenzy if they had food to frenzy on.”

“Do you need help getting wood?”

“You can’t move like you are. Plus, I don’t have shoes for you. We need to dry the ones you have; and then maybe tomorrow, or whenever we get out of here, we can find you some boots. There might be something in here if we look hard enough, probably not though. I would wager to bet the last occupant either died with them on or is hoofing it in them as we speak.”

“What about that hatch? Can we use that to get outside, since it sounds like we might not be able to use the doors right now?”

“What?” Eric looked up, and it was the one thing he hadn’t seen. There was a hatch leading to the roof of the truck. A small step-ladder, overlooked as well, lay against one of the walls. Eric took the ladder and placed it underneath the hatch. He climbed up; and, with cautious ease, opened the hatch. Small flakes of snow fell into the truck from the pile that had accumulated on top of the glass window.

He leaned down into the truck. “Can you boost me up?”

Bobby got up and pushed Eric upward. He scuttled through the hatch and out onto the flat roof, dodging flakes of snow as they fell on his face and clothes.

Once outside, Eric surveyed the roof with a flashlight, the beam somewhat distorted by the heavy falling snow. There was a generator, a satellite dish, and a large pile of meat, which was wrapped nice and neat, strapped down and frozen, almost covered by the snow.

Eric scrambled over to check the generator. It was out of gas, but it looked like all it was there for was to keep the fridge and TV going. It was so small; it couldn’t have been used for much more than that. The satellite, was of course, no concern, but the meat, the meat could still be good. It didn’t smell rotten or spoiled, so Eric took out his knife (the one he didn’t use to kill zombies with) and cut away enough for them to eat. He took the meat over to the hatch and handed it down to Bobby, who took it and placed it on the stove.

Eric started to drop back inside when he noticed something barely visible under the thick blanket of snow. He crawled over to investigate, and realized it was a ladder with a hook attached to it. There was also a place to hook the ladder into so it could hang over the side. He crawled back to the hatch.

“It looks like there’s a ladder over here that I can use. I’m going to scurry out to find some firewood.”

“What do you need me to do?”

“Be at this hatch when I get back. I’ll hand the wood down to you. I’m not getting much, just enough to get us through the night. If we need more tomorrow, we can scrounge for it in the daylight. Maybe this storm will have let up by then and maybe the zombies will have spread out as well.”

“Just be careful.”

“Will do,” Eric replied, standing up. He took a moment and let his ears come to him. He had been trying to train all of his senses to react to a zombie carcass. In this kind of storm and in the dark of night, his ears would serve him better than anything else. Also his nose, his nose could be a friend too. So he stood there with the snow falling, and he listened and he smelled. The zombies were hoarding, but they weren’t as close as he thought. He should be able to get out and back without much hassle.

Finished with his listening and smelling surveillance, he decided to use his eyes and check the side where the ladder had to go. He angled the flashlight down and let the spotlight show him the ground below. No zombies on that side, just fresh undisturbed white snow. He then checked the ground around the rest of the truck, and he found the snow was in his favor. The zombies were struggling to move. They were either stuck or confused as to how they would make their way through it. The need to feed was strong inside them, but that need could only take them so far. Their dead bodies would have to do the rest.

Eric hooked the ladder and dropped it over the side. He had to push on it in order for it to reach the ground below the snow. One rung disappeared into the white. “At least six inches,” he said, “maybe more.”

He took out his pistol, cocked it, and climbed down the ladder to the ground below, moving his legs for a moment in order to get a feel for how packed the snow was. It would be tough going, but not so tough that he couldn’t move in it. Satisfied, he gripped the gun tight, and made his way into the woods.

Zombie moans filled the air; they shuffled towards the smell of Eric’s warm human flesh, shambling through the thick snow on dead and decaying legs, partially frozen from their feet to their ankles.

Eric didn’t go too deep into the forest, staying close to the truck and keeping it in sight the whole time. He scrounged around for any kind of wood that would burn. It was impossible to find because the snow was falling so hard and the ground was covered so thickly. As luck would have it, he found a fallen tree that was thin and spindly. It would work perfect for firewood. He began to stomp on it in order to break it up into pieces big enough for him to carry.

A sound of swooshing, like skiers on snow, and something flapping, like it was in a heavy wind, caught his ears – thank God for that perfectly tuned sense.

He looked up through the trees and shone the flashlight in that direction. He saw nothing, but he could hear it, and it was getting closer.

“Couldn’t be. Impossible,” Eric replied, trying to ignore the sound, stomping on the wood as fast as he could.

When he finished breaking up the wood, he collected enough for the night. An arm loads worth that was heavy, but not so heavy he couldn’t carry it with one arm free. The swooshing flapping sound was now almost on top of him, but he thought he could make it back to the truck before whatever it was arrived. He took a quick survey of the scene to make sure his path was clear, flashlight shining bright through the snow and trees. He froze on the spot when he saw what was making those strange noises. It was four zombies, and they were all on skis.

That’s right folks. I just went there – zombies on skis.

They were coming at him fast, somehow dodging in and out of the trees, their sense of smell must have really been on high alert to be able to hone in on him so quickly, and to maneuver with such ease. They were all decked out in snow gear, complete with ski goggles, hats, and gloves. Their once white outfits now covered in dry and fresh blood, and everything, including their skin, was tattered, flapping in the breeze as they skied towards him.

“You got to be kidding me,” Eric replied, dropping the wood and flashlight at his feet, pulling out his gun just as the zombies arrived.

The undead skiers unlocked their skis from their feet and leapt off their boards without stopping – four zombies, flying through the air, gnashing their teeth, eyes wide, sailing right towards him.

Eric was able to get his gun up in time to kill two of them while they flew, flipping them end over end into the deep snow before they had a chance to land on him. The other two managed to miss the flying bullets, sliding to a stop just inches from Eric’s feet. When they finished their slide they started crawling towards him as he tried to get away, scrambling backwards through the snow, heavy flakes still falling.

He aimed his gun and hit one with a clean shot to the head. It stopped instantly; and now there was just one. He noticed that she had long blonde hair sticking out of her hat, and this gave him an image of who she might have been before – a ski bunny at a local lodge. He shook the image away as she opened her mouth to bite.

Eric aimed the gun, and the zombie stopped, looked up at him.

He fired.

Nothing.

He fired again.

Nothing.

She launched herself towards his leg, teeth reaching the fabric as he fired again. This time a bullet left the chamber. It made a direct shot into the left side of her temple and exited out on the right with a fresh spray of bright red blood, painting the pristine snow crimson.

Eric drew in a deep breath and let the moment pass. When he thought he was ready to move again, he got up, collected the wood, and made his way –quickly–back to the truck.

*

The deeper parts of the night fell on the world at large. The snow was still falling, but it had slowed from what it was earlier. If you were to take a measuring stick to the fresh snow fall amounts that fell, it would be over a foot.

The Black Sabbath song “The Wizard” was playing at full volume as the two guys sat inside the truck and jammed. They weren’t concerned about zombies or the weather or the fact that the previous owner of this truck might return. They were just happy to find an oasis of happiness in this current storm of chaos.

“They had on skis, gear, everything?” Bobby asked, trying to picture the skiing zombies that had nearly gotten the best of Eric.

“I kid you not.” Eric stoked the fire in the stove and settled back in his spot. He finished off another beer and crushed the can, letting the tasty dinner settle in his stomach. He hadn’t eaten like that in a while.

The meat that he’d found turned out not to be spoiled, and it had made a fine supper. From what they could tell, it was deer meat. They’d also found a bag of chips that weren’t open. Those things, along with the beer, really had taken a rotten day and made it so much better.

“These suckers are getting more and more creative every day. I almost expect one of them to ride in on a Zamboni,” Eric replied, smiling. He felt the laughter starting. Bobby was also on the edge of full-on laughter. “In full hockey gear.”

That did it. Both men, drunk and feeling good, were now rolling around like two teenagers at a slumber party laughing their butts off. When the laughter stopped, they both looked at each other and it began all over again. The cat sat in one corner licking itself, more concerned with its bath than their drunken antics.

“Stop, stop, stop, I can’t take it.” Bobby tried to catch his breath as Eric did the same. Both men came to a slow stop with tears in their eyes and aching sides.

While they drank and partied, the night passed, the wind blew, the snow stopped.

When the beer ran out, it was somewhere close to four in the morning – they were nursing it like Florence Nightingale. Both men were so wasted they didn’t notice the time. They each grabbed a sleeping bag and passed out into peaceful slumber.

The kerosene lamp burned out about an hour later. The fire in the stove dwindled down to embers and eventually went out.

*

Morning arrived – cloudless and sunny. Its warm rays shining on the new snow. The men were sound asleep inside the dark truck as a noise in the distance, faint enough not to wake them, stirred the world. It was the cat who responded to it first. He got up off the floor, stretched, scratched, and tried to find a way to look out. He wanted to see what was making that noise. He paced and moved, walking over Eric as he did. Eric stirred, but he was sleeping one off so he didn’t budge.

The cat walked over and sniffed the sealed double doors in the back and pawed at them to no avail. The cat made its way back across the small space to the door that led out of the room and into the cab, pawing at the door, but it didn’t move. He tried a few more times before finally giving up. The cat was really getting agitated now, but there wasn’t a thing he could do about it. He knew he had to wake the men, and he knew that if he didn’t this could spell trouble. He began to paw at Eric’s face as the noise got closer and closer. Eric didn’t stir so the cat started meowing. It was a last resort, but his instincts told him that was the thing to do.

Eric woke up slowly and shook the cobwebs free as the cat got quiet. “What the hell do you want?” Eric’s ears picked up on the noise. “What the hell is that?”

Eric turned towards the wall, and all he could see was metal. He got up and made his way to the door that led into the cab. He pushed it open and stepped inside. The cold air of the cab sent chills down his back, his breath white as he inhaled and exhaled.

He stood there a moment and listened. The noise was coming from the passenger’s side. He turned to look out the window, but it was covered with a heavy layer of snow. He climbed over the seat and tried to open it, but the snow was so heavy and thick against it that it wouldn’t budge. He tried the door handle, and he found the door unable to budge as well.

What Eric didn’t know was that the way the truck was positioned in the road allowed the wind to push a massive snow drift up against it. This snow drift stood tall enough that it covered the truck from the ground to the roofline on the passenger’s side.

Eric’s brain refused to work (still hung-over), and he was out of ideas as the noise kept drawing closer. It was then that he thought of the hatch.

He scrambled into the back and grabbed the ladder. He scurried up as quickly as his hung-over legs could climb. He popped the latch to the hatch and realized he would need a boost. In his current state, he had forgotten about that. Lucky for him, luck was on his side.

Bobby stirred. “Would someone turn off that damn leaf blower?”

Eric looked down at Bobby who had just woken himself up with that statement. Bobby looked up at Eric who was looking down at him.

“What the hell is that?” Bobby asked.

“I have no idea, but I know it’s bad, whatever it is. Can you boost me?”

Eric tried to open the hatch as Bobby got up on wobbly legs. He steadied himself and then went over to Eric who, at the moment, was in a bit of a jam. The snow had buried the hatch so deep that it was hard to budge. The buzzing sound was really getting loud now and very close. They needed to have eyes on the world outside.

“Shit! The snow’s too thick. Hand me something to jam it with, something to give me some leverage.” Bobby began to look around the room. The buzzing sound was so close now that it was almost making it hard to hear. Whatever was coming at them was coming fast, and it wasn’t stopping. Eric was getting impatient. “Hurry up, will you?”

Bobby did the best he could to hurry up, but he was very, hung over. In a zombie apocalypse – why did they drink so much?

Bobby stumbled onto a piece of wood they didn’t burn and handed it up to Eric. Eric grabbed it and started banging away on the hatch. The glass shattered as the wood went right through. Snow fell onto Eric and the floor below like a powder white waterfall. Eric shook the flakes free and then reached up and removed the shards of glass that were still left in the opening.

The buzzing sound was now echoing around the room, rattling things that were hanging on the walls, bouncing loose stuff lying on the floor, and scaring the cat, who was now on high alert.

Eric reached up and pushed some snow out of the way. The problem was, all he could see was more snow. He tried to dig a little more, but realized that the only way he was going to make it to the roof was by tunneling. He was glad he wasn’t claustrophobic.

Eric looked down at Bobby. “Okay, boost me now.”

Bobby did as he was asked, and Eric scrambled through the opening, tunneling upward until he was able to pop his head out and see the bright blue sky and sunlight. He used his arms to push the rest of the way through and climbed out onto the roof like a corpse crawling out of a fresh grave.

What he saw sent him immediately back into the room below, almost falling off the ladder, as he slipped and scrambled his way to the floor.

“What is it?” Bobby asked.

“We’re in trouble.”

“It’s a snow blower, right?”

“An industrial sized one. It probably cleared off entire parking lots in its other lifetime,” Eric paused, “The problem is -”

The snow blower crashed into the passenger side of the truck and the truck swayed from the impact, but didn’t roll over. The noise of the snow blower died.

Seconds later the truck started to get impacted, as bodies, one after another, slammed into it. The truck started to move off its spot and tilt. The bodies kept hitting the truck, thud, thud, thud, they went, more impacts, multiple impacts. The force of those bodies was going to push the truck over. It was inevitable

Eric finished his sentence. “The problem is this. The zombie running the snow blower has cleared a path. The path has allowed the zombies, who can’t figure out the snow, an easy walk to get to us. There must be hundreds out there, with more coming in the distance. All they have to do is get to the path.” The truck tilted and groaned. Eric started rounding up weapons and supplies, throwing them crudely in his backpack, and getting ready for the path into the snow. “We need to move and we need to go out the driver’s side door. Are you ready?”

“Yes,” Bobby replied.

Eric opened the carrier, and the cat ran inside. Most wouldn’t, but it knew better than to dilly dally. Eric scrambled into the cab as the truck groaned from the impacts and tilted, the springs screeching their disapproval.

Eric made his way to the door and dropped the carrier down into the snow. The truck tilted further, more impacts, the spike in the door was the only thing holding the truck up. Eric could hear the spike starting to separate, screeching softly as it pulled free from its weld.

Bobby appeared behind him, holding onto what he could for support as the truck continued to tilt further with each impact.

The cat meowed as it sat in the snow and waited to go.

“You sure you’re ready?” Eric asked, pistol in hand, backpack on his back.

“Sure,” Bobby replied, shotgun in hand.

Eric shimmied out the window and jumped down into the snow. Once on the ground, he fired a couple of clean shots into a few zombies who were treading their way ever so slowly towards them. He picked up the carrier and started making his way towards the woods.

Bobby jumped out the window and was about to move when the truck tilted for the last time. The spike broke free with a metallic rip, and the truck started to fall. Bobby froze on the spot as the truck came crashing down on its side in a cloud of snow and debris crushing him underneath.

Eric, who had lost so much already, couldn’t believe he had lost someone else in this world. He hung his head as the cat meowed in the carrier. “So long my friend.”

Eric watched the zombies moving towards him and decided he better move. He fired off the remaining bullets in his gun and took out about three of them. He then turned and ran, making his way deeper into the woods.

THE END

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