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September 25, 2023

All-Nighter 18

By Lydia Manx

Episode Eighteen


Back then ...

"Lindy, why are you driving?"

I winced as Dean seemed to wake up enough to notice he was in the back seat next to Ginny again. Sammy rolled his eyes and then watched to see what I was going to do. I sure as hell wasn't going to hand the keys over to the semi-suicidal Dean. He wasn't even acting like he knew where he was, much less what was happening.

"Because you need to rest, Dean. Why don't Ginny and you settle back and relax while Sammy helps us get safely out of town, okay?" I kept my tone even and non-confrontational. It seemed to work. What wasn't working that well probably would be my ankle. I was pretty sure it wasn't broken, because I didn't 'feel' anything rubbing or clicking in my body -- having broken my arm when I was a child, I remember how that felt still to this day. But damn, it still hurt. I'd slipped another painkiller down my throat when using the bathroom in the hotel room, but it hadn't started working. If I hadn't been driving, I would have doubled up on the dose, but I knew that would dull my reality on snowy roads -- bad combination.

The road out of town was to be avoided as long as possible so we kept to the alleys and side streets. The snow had stuck and was getting deeper by the minute. The brief amount of time when we'd gone from the rental building to the hotel and out the snow had started falling at a faster pace. There were some wind gusts adding to the general grayness of everything and the snow drifts were being built flake by snowy flake. The SUV had been built for such conditions and I was happy to not feel any slipping on the roads. But sooner or later I'd have to send Sammy or Dean out to knock the snow off the headlights. We were driving without lights but that wouldn't be good once darkness overtook the day. Gray skies weren't going to be visible all too soon as winter was climbing down our throats.

Sammy said, "Turn right up there. Just past that telephone pole up there on the right past the brown trash can."

He was sullen again. I think he was under the impression that I was going to let him drive. Hell, I don't think he was even old enough to legally drive. Up in the hills I knew kids drove without licenses as young as ten years old, but I wasn't going to trust a kid with our lives. From the way he held his mouth, I could tell he was really struggling with not saying anything that would get him and Ginny kicked out of the car in the storm. The winds were kicking up even more, and I was concentrating on keeping in the middle of the alley when something dashed in front of the car from my side over to the street we were just about to turn onto for the next part of our trip.

Something not human anymore.

Ginny let out a slight squeak while Dean moaned. Sammy, on the other hand, simply rolled the window down and using a two-handed grip, shot the zombie right in the head. That stopped the creature and it crumpled into the snow, twitching and rocking in the snow in a full bodied spasm as it seemed to die. I'd dropped my foot of the gas -- not being totally stupid I knew better than slamming on the brakes in icy conditions. Sammy jumped out of the car while we were still moving and shot the zombie in the head twice more. I was pretty sure the second shot of the three had finished off the former man but Sammy wasn't. He then pulled back his foot and kicked the hell out of the dead man's head.

The car had stopped finally and I flew out and hissed, "Sammy, stop. We have to go. I don't think they travel by themselves!"

Snarling at me, he spun and said, "That used to be Leon, my second cousin. Fuck. My aunt's going to be really pissed off. Leon was supposed to be going to college next year on a full ride football scholarship." Seeing my glance he said, "The fucker was a kicker. He made field goals from damn near forty yards away consistently. He was a damn miracle in this town. Not that you'd know fuck all about it being from out of state and probably not even a football fan."

Like that was my fault? I hissed again, "Well, let's get out of here before the rest of his team comes to chomp you into their league. You know?"

His face crumbled for a second and I again was shocked by how damn young that kid really was. Fifteen tops but more than likely just thirteen or fourteen, I never was good at guessing kids' ages. Anger flushed through him and he asked Ginny to toss him a rag. Not remembering packing any rags I was surprised to see her pull out an old t-shirt from her bag at her feet and throw it from the backseat to him. There was a worn out imprint of a one-hit wonder band long dissolved. Sammy quickly swiped it over his face and then worked on scrubbing off dead cousin's bits and pieces from his shoes and pants. Seeing a fleeting look of horror on Ginny's face, he waved for her to turn her head and took a handful of snow from the fence and rubbed it over his pants. The flakes came away bloody and Sammy used a handful more and quickly cleaned off as much as he could. Once he finished he said, "Sorry about the shirt, Ginny. I'll buy you a new one later, okay?"

He waited for her reply.

She turned back just enough to say, "Don't worry about it. Let's go. Lindy's right, there could be more waiting to attack."

I was fairly sure by now we would have been overrun had there been anything else lurking but I wanted to get moving again. Dean had sunk back into his seat with his thoughts. He'd totally disconnected to what had been happening once he'd seen the zombie. I wasn't going to rouse him, but I needed us to get going again before the smell of the truly dead attracted others. The mercenaries were still out making their X marks by guns or flames and must have heard Sammy's three shots. With the snowstorm and the winds I knew the sounds would bounce around oddly saving us from immediate discovery. At least that was what I told myself while putting the SUV into motion again. Sammy scrambled to get inside before I drove off leaving him to explain to his aunt why Leon wasn't going to be playing football any time soon.

His directions were spoken in small bites of anger. I didn't have any helpful words for him nor did I much care. All I wanted was to get the hell out of town before things got any worse than they already were. The snow had kicked up from an amazing level of not-so-good approaching unbelievably bad. Naturally that was the sign for things to go even further sideways.

Sammy had just pointed the next turn out to me, and obeying him I slowly rounded the corner. Through the rapidly falling snow, I saw something in the distance down the road we were on.

Letting off the gas pedal I growled, "I don't think that is our welcoming committee, now is it?"

There was a gradual slowing of the SUV, but my foot hovered over the gas pedal in the event it was a horde of zombies. Was that the correct term? Horde? Host? Bevy? I wondered, but doubted that even Google would have the term.

"They aren't zombies." Ginny said, softly adding, "Too much flannel and nasty weapons."

As we rolled closer I saw she was right. The mercenaries had found us -- or rather, we'd found them. My hands were shaking and I willed myself to calm down while I approached them slowly. I pushed the button for the window and let winter in, and I was happy that I stopped before I hit the guys in the front of the car in the middle of the road.

"Howdy, Ma'am. How are you all?" He sounded very official, but I had yet to see a badge or anything remotely governmental. Which could be very good or very very very bad. Blowing out a little air, I was a bit unnerved to see a cloud of fog follow my breath. It was damn cold.

Smiling my real estate smile I said, "Cold, but great. How are you?"

He seemed taken back by the smile, but then automatically smiled back, revealing a very nice set of teeth and dimples in both cheeks. He didn't have the full beard but stubble, like he hadn't had a chance to shave for a few days.

"Fine. Thanks for asking." My pleasantness had caught him off guard and I saw the men surrounding the car now look at him, startled by his kind tone. I kept smiling and didn't look anywhere but directly into his hazel eyes. Keeping my nerves under control seemed to please him. I think most folks met by a large group of about ten men or so with guns and dressed in flannel without badges would be freaking out.

I smiled some more and said, "This is the way to the highway, right? We've been trying to get down this mountain for what seems like weeks! My cousin and his girlfriend swore this was the right way." I waved my hand to Sammy and the guy's eyes followed automatically to find Sammy looking at me like I had two heads. I could only do so much.

Leaving Dean out of the equation seemed to be the only possible way to leave alive. As it was, he was frozen and ashen; I'd chanced a glance in the rear view mirror to make sure he wasn't about to do anything stupid. I doubt his paleness was due to the weather, but his shock at seeing possibly one of the men who'd killed his fiancée. At least I hoped that was all it was, and not him gearing up to jump out and get shot to death in front of us all. Time would only tell.

The man chuckled a little and said, "Kids, huh?"

I beamed back and wished I'd worn something sluttier so he'd stop staring in my eyes. I know, tacky, but hey, it worked when manipulating contracts and real estate sales. I hadn't expected to need access to my visible assets when on the run from zombies and mercenaries.

"We had an escapee from the local prison and were deputized to make sure nobody left with a crazy murder suspect in their car holding a gun or a knife to their head." He looked around and nodded. The men cleared the road and he leaned in closer saying, "Everything looks fine. You drive safely. I hope you don't have to go too far. There's more bad weather heading this way." Giving me a smile he pulled out a business card from who knows where and said, "You see something wrong ... Please don't hesitate to call. I'm Will. And you are?"

I kept a frozen smile on my face as it dawned on me that he was hitting on me. Sammy picked up on it quickly and said, "This is my cousin, Lindy. She's from the city." He smiled even wider than I thought possible and I made a mental note to kick his ass at some future time when there weren't men with guns surrounding our car. They were out of the middle of the road at least.

"My pleasure, Lindy." He gave me a wink and I smiled sweetly.

"Thank you, Will. I'll call if I see anything wrong." I waited for him to get off my door so I could drive away.

"You can call if nothing's wrong either." He smiled broadly and waved me down the road.

I rolled up my window and exhaled saying, "Well, that was fun."

Article © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
Published on 2016-06-06
Image(s) © Lydia Manx. All rights reserved.
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