Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sticking to the Plan
by Alex Lachkevitch

“A what plan?’

“A zombie plan, bro! Oh, you gots to have one! That shit is for true.”

“You’re an idiot. Watch the road.”

Left on Valley Road.

“Naw, dude, seriously. It can happen like, a bajillion ways. Army experiment, alien invasion, asteroid from space, or, uh… just like, no one even knows. But they fuckin’ hungry fo’ brains!”

“Asteroid from space, huh? You’re an asteroid from space. Believe me, we got more serious issues to worry about- Africa is dying from AIDS, China is hosting the Olympics, our government is bombing anyone with a drop of oil, and you’re worried about zombies attacking us. It won‘t happen.“

“Yo, Evan, man? College is making you no fun, dude.”

Right onto Bridgeport.

“…and then you got your ride secured, and then you need to go get a piece. You know, bro? You ever scope out where the gun shops is around town? I have. I’ll get a gat in a hot minute, and start blowing away any evil dead fuck that tries to feast on my dome!”

“Oh, right. And then what, Ty? You’ll shoot every zombie in the world? You know, they taught me in college that you can’t shoot all your problems away.”

“They is stupid. Then I’m going to Wally-Mart, get me some survival supplies, and off to the woods, yo. Live out the invasion.”

“ Tyler, you’re from the suburbs. You cried that one time in grade seven we got lost in the park.”

“Fuck, dude, shut up! I just ran a red. Can’t afford more motha-fucking tickets. No pigs around, right?”

“I haven’t even seen any cars since we left.”

Over the King Street bridge.

“I can’t believe I’m even talking about this. Ughhhh. Well, I guess if there were zombies, I’d try to find out how and why, and see if there were any authority dealing with the threat. They‘re still people, right?”

“Ya, right, bro! You can’t talk to zombies, man, you gotta blast them! They sure as hell won’t talk to you, and if they attack, shit, man, it’s my right to cap bitches for self-protection. And I’m pretty damn sure the government, if they ain’t zombies too, would agree.”

“Alright, just calm down. We’re almost at the spot. I get nervous down here.”

“Chill, man, the ghetto is my second home. And Big E has the best shit down here. I don’t see any one out, though, man, maybe it’s too early morning.”

“It’s two.”

Right onto Morreo Drive, another narrow street between crumbling brick two-stories, and the little red Civic came to a holt, the gearbox making a terrible noise. The police cruiser blocking the street was on fire. One cop lay dead on the hood, the beam of the headlight filtering through the thick reddish-grey goo seeping out from fracture in his skull. Five tall teenagers stood close by, their blank expressions made into terrifying clown masks by the blood around their mouths. Another cop was sprawled out in the street with an old fat woman stabbing him over and over in the stomach with a long kitchen knife. A man was squatting beside her, dipping his hand in the pool of blood and wiping it across his mouth.

Tyler’s hands were frozen to the wheel. The sharp taste of something like cranberry juice hit the back of his throat. He saw Evan fumbling with his seatbelt and the door handle alternatively, with no success. Tyler slammed into reverse, but his feet and hands seemed drunk, and he backed at full speed into, or more under, a parked lifted Tahoe, wedging his tiny hatchback hopelessly.

“Get out! Get out, run! Run! Go!”

Evan wasn’t sure if he was screaming, or some one else. With trembling hands, he shoved the door open and began to run away from the burning cop car with its one bloody eye. He felt tears stream down his face, and wished he had worn runners today. Anything to be faster, to be away. Just as he rounded the corner, he began to hear the yelling behind him.

“Evan, wait! Wait, help!”

Tyler struggled with his door, shouting and crying, and then climbed over and out the passenger door. Falling face first on the pavement, he looked over, and saw the whole group in the street turn to him and start walking. Slowly. Even cautiously. The terror narrowed his vision to a tunnel, and in the end of that tunnel he saw his salvation- the cop’s gun belt had been torn off and thrown aside, and the handle of the revolver was within reach. He grabbed it, shaking loose the holster and belt as he scrambled to his feet. With the gun held in both hands too close to his chest, the barrel swinging nervously, Tyler began stepping backwards and shouting unintelligibly, as if trying to scare off an animal. The group advanced. He retreated, between parked cars, almost tripping over the curb, back, back, the barrel still shaking, still yelling, until his back pressed against a wall. The group advanced. He thought about the six bullets in the gun, stopped shouting, and started to run.

But in a few steps, halted. A tall man with a gold tooth lumbered out from the alley in front of him. Tyler raised the gun, and their eyes met. The barrel started shaking again. In the man’s eyes, he could see sorrow and determination, the eyes of a man who is forced into desperation, the eyes of a man who must do something he wishes he didn’t have to. In a few second, he saw Evan walk out of the alley with the same look, mouth smeared with blood. He put the gun down, and felt hands on his shoulders, and hands on his face, and soon he felt sweet acquiescence.

As the mob shuffled toward downtown, toward all the tall building and the department stores and the government offices, sirens blared. Helicopters circled above, and above them, jets cut the sky. At the bridge, the mob was met by a sandbag barricade, soldiers lined up behind it. As they readied their rifles and the first bullets tore through the crowd, Tyler and Evan and everyone else walked forward. They knew who the enemy was. They all knew to stick to the plan now.

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