Welcome to the October Zombie special. The four short stories of October will be the adventures of Harriet and Jeff, fun for the Wednesday post as well.
Just a quick question before we go on:
Thanks, and Enjoy.
Part 5 — Worst. Three minutes. Ever.
Harriet and Jeff had several ideas of what their last moments on earth would be like. They had even taken bets on the nature of their death. Dismemberment took the lead with two to one odds, followed closely by bleeding out at four to one. The rest had been random, including being exploded at ten to one.
A ring of sprinters, the speedy grunts of the zombie apocalypse ringed around them, gnashing rotten teeth and swiping at them idly.
TWO MINUTES FOURTY-FIVE SECONDS TO DETONATION.
The odds for explosion boosted to at least two to one, dismemberment took a while. Their captive, Chae, had decided to curl up and spend her last minutes of life whimpering. Jeff and Harriet enjoyed sandwiches.
“Hey,” Jeff said, brushing away crumbs from the front of his shirt. “You think we should kill a couple of them? I mean it seems wasteful to just let ourselves explode.”
“True,” Harriet said, rolling the last corner of her sandwich in her fingers. She sized up the group of sprinters around them. It had the first time either of them saw one standing still. “So they’re being controlled?”
TWO MINUTES THIRTY SECONDS TO DETONATION.
“Probably.” Jeff scrunched his nose back at their truck. “One way to find out.”
Harriet raised a pistol and fired, dropping one of the sprinters. Its head popped like a ripe melon and fell on to the ground twitching. The other sprinters hissed, but made no move to advance. The gap left by the casualty filled quickly, but the replacement seemed equally deterred to approach.
“Interesting.” Jeff rubbed his chin. “Guess we’ll never know.”
“W— wait.” Chae stood and walked over to Jeff. “There has to be something we can do.”
TWO MINUTES FIFTEEN SECONDS TO DETONATION.
“Feel free to contribute.” Harriet slipped her pistol in her holster. “I’d rather be a crater than a biter.”
“Well I—“ Chae swallowed. “We should disarm the bomb. Maybe they’ll keep us alive.”
“That sounds so smart.” Harriet rolled her eyes, approaching Chae. She grabbed her by the shirt and gave her a shake. “Maybe we can ask them nicely.”
The ring of sprinters shifted. Jeff narrowed his eyes.
WARNING: TWO MINUTES TO DETONATION.
“We can all be friends.” Harriet grinned. “Maybe sip brain flavored tea and—”
“Harriet. Bring Chae over her.” Jeff took ten paces towards the ring of sprinters. When he stepped close they stirred, swinging at him as if they were behind a fence.
With a nod Harriet complied and dragged Chae closer. The sprinters reacted quickly, sliding away like a great shield of glass pushed against them. The shuffling footprints drew a line in the soil.
“What the hell?” Harriet frowned. “—Does that mean?”
“She’s repelling them. We got explosives in the truck right?” Jeff raised a hand, telling Harriet to wait.
ONE MINUTE FORTY-FIVE SECONDS TO DETONATION.
“That thing needs a mute button.” Harriet scowled back at the truck, keeping a tight hold on Chae.
“It’s cool. I found it. Here. Hopscotch, set up all right?” Jeff shuffled through the trunk and tossed Harriet a bundle.
“Oh, I like how you think Jeff.” Harriet caught the bundle and began to set up an explosive charge. “Oh, and Chae, try to run and we blow off a leg. Dig?”
Chae’s eyes grew wide.
“I’d listen. She’s a crack shot with that magnum.” Jeff pushed past them.
ONE MINUTE THIRTY SECONDS TO DETONATION.
“Um… the bomb?” Chae glanced back nervously.
“We’ll get to it. They might just attack when we disarm it— shit.” Harriet winced. “I have to fix the car.”
“It’s cool. Set three then run to fix it.” Jeff shrugged, carrying an armful of C4.
“How can you be so calm?” Chae narrowed her eyes.
“Hello? Nuke charge at point-blank. Painless death.” Jeff widened his smirk.
“Painless awesome death.” Harriet waved Chae forward. The Sprinters drew closer to the Humvee.
ONE MINUTE FIFTEEN SECONDS TO DETONATION.
Chae began to shake, watching the wall of undeath encroach around them. Jeff had to stand just out of range to place his second charge.
“Hey Chae,” Harriet said slapping a charge into her arms. I need you to set the next one. They’re gonna engulf the Humvee .
“What? I can’t set a bomb.”
“It’s easy.” Harriet rolled her eyes and pantomimed the motions. “Set it down. Press this button to arm and press this, this and this to set it to remote.”
“I—“ Chae looked down at it helplessly. “I’ll try.”
“Do or do not. There is no try.” Harriet jabbed a finger at her. “I’ve always wanted to say that in context.”
Harriet hurried back to the truck, slipped in and slammed the door shut.
WARNING: ONE MINUTE TO DETONATION.
Jeff waved Chae closer; the sprinters engulfed the truck, clawing at it furiously. Harriet offered a thumb up through the windshield.
“What if they get in?” Chae set down the C4 tentatively, struggling to remember the sequence.
“She’ll be fine. That thing is military grade. And if it helps you remember, the buttons from that pain in the ass Z piece in Tetris.”
“I never played it.” Chae frowned.
“Seriously? Like this.” Jeff traced the shape in the air.
“Oh. That doesn’t look like a Z. It looks like a ‘S’ tetrominoe.”
“Now isn’t a good time to get all math nerd on me.” Jeff clenched his jaw.
FOURTY-FIVE SECONDS TO DETONATION.
Her C4 charge beeped, signaling it being ready.
“One more.” Jeff tossed her a charge. “We’ll need a good running start.”
“What?” Chae fumbled to catch it. “But we—”
“Less talk more setting. At the very least we can make a nice firework show when we die.”
“Don’t you mean IF?”
“Yeah. That’s what I said.” Jeff said, focusing on his bomb.
“No you said—“
WARNING: THIRTY SECONDS TO DETONATION.
“—right. Setting now.” Chea placed her C4 quickly and quietly. They managed another three before the humvee’s speaker squealed.
“So, small problem.” Harriet’s voice came out over the growl of sprinters. “Takes a minute to boot up.”
“What? Bullcrap!” Jeff tossed his remaining charges in the air, irritated. “Just kick it or something.”
“Well I would if—“
FIFTEEN SECONDS TO DETONATION.
Jeff grabbed Chae by the hand, leading her back to the Humvee.
The sprinters fled Chae’s protective bubble.
The Humvee came into sight.
They pushed closer, Chae stumbled.
He reached back to help her up.
“What happened to Six!” Jeff snapped back at the truck.
She couldn’t stop it.
Jeff’s hands made contact with the door.
He closed his hands around the door handle.
He opened the door. Harriet sat, lounging calmly. Holding the loud-speaker, and wore a sloppy grin.
“I wish you could see your face,” Harriet said. “Found the mute button by the way.”
Jeff snorted with laughter, shoved Shay into the backseat, a settled into the passenger seat.
“Have a nice day.” Harriet snapped the Humvee into reverse, slammed on the accelerator and barreled over the sprinters behind them. Jeff pressed the detonator, igniting the chain of explosions and peppering the ruined landscape with gore. The way was clear, and save for some rocky terrain, pushing past the pack of sprinters.
They were on the road again, alive and intact. Death by explosion had bumped back to ten to one.
“You guys are assholes.” Chae said, finally finding the strength to speak.
“Better a living asshole than a considerate stiff.” Harriet rolled her neck, working out the kinks. “Good thing that cure doubles as biter repellant.”
“But we don’t really have a safe place to stop.” Jeff rapped a finger on his lap. “Gas stops we might have ten minutes before we become surrounded. With a brain on our ass, there’s nowhere to hide.”
“We’ll deal.” Harriet brushed off the concern. “We always do.”