He made it to where route 40 crossed route 10 before he was too weak to walk. He sank slowly to the ground, as if he feared he'd break, as if the snow-covered median strip was moving, spinning, threatening to throw him off like an ill-tempered horse. He doubled over, dry-heaving, groaning and coughing and dangling spittle from blue-tinged lips.
"You don't sound so good."
He looked up, blinked, squinted, held out a glove-covered hand to block the cold, useless sun. A zombie stood crotch-deep in a drift, icicles hanging from its gaping mouth, frozen nearly solid. It wasn't moving. It couldn't move. He was safe enough. "Fuck you."
"You have radiation sickness."
He closed his eyes again, sank back against the snow, head spinning, not really feeling the cold as much as he'd expected. All he felt was the pounding in his head and the churning of his stomach. "You can't talk. You're dead. You're a zombie."
"You were too close to the blast. Kansas City? You walk from there? I'm amazed you got this far."
There had been a flash. He would have been blinded had he not been looking West, fooled by echoes of jet engine noise bouncing off buildings. "Going to… Topeka."
"What do you think you'll find there?" The zombie sounded amused. "I was in Topeka. I died there, in the hospital. I got shot after that, twice, but they missed the brain. I followed the smell of fresh meat East. Then it snowed."
He tugged at his knit cap, pulling it down as far as he could without covering his eyes. "Shut up. Just… shut up." He couldn't shoot it: he'd dropped his guns, along with his backpack, miles back on the road. They'd gotten so heavy.
"Sure. You want your last moments to be peaceful, I guess. I get that. Mine weren't that peaceful. It was pretty bad in the hospital, crying and screaming and panic." The voice seemed closer now; he didn't want to look. "There's nothing in Topeka anymore worth going. They'll nuke it too, eventually, unless they run out of bombs. You'd be better off trying to get to Fort Riley. But you're not getting up: you're going to die right there, and turn, and then we can be friends."
"Go to hell." He tried to push himself up from the snow, but his arms wouldn't cooperate. His head spun from the effort, and he collapsed back with a crunch. "Go to hell…"
"It has to be frustrating. You were immune; I bet you always knew you would be. You had guns, you were ready, you would have made it. Then they nuked you. Did your hair fall out?"
He didn't answer. He didn't feel cold at all anymore, and even his stomach seemed to be calming. He'd rest, just a little longer, and then he'd get up and walk the rest of the way to Topeka. He'd make it. He'd make it. He just needed to sleep a while.
Great piece. Intrigued by the rest of this guy's journey and whether he makes it to Topeka or if he dies on the roadside...ReplyDelete
Oh he most definitely dies... the original challenge was to write a 'death scene'. I just wrote it from the dying man's perspective and finished with his last lucid thought. :-)Delete