2.8 days later – Chapter 6

It had been over a day now since I had last seen one of them. Where were they?  Obviously, they no longer possessed the brainsss to hide, plan or play a waiting game. So they had either left for fleshier pastures or were all dead (again?).  I was paranoid about being lucky and I wanted to be sure about their whereabouts.

So here I was standing on the roof of an arcade gaming plaza. We had lined up the outside of the store with gas cans scavenged from a nearby gas station. We had packed the inside of the store with some propane tanks, gas cans and plenty of boxes of nails and makeshift shrapnel from the hardware store. We stocked the basement of the store with all the propane tanks we could scavenge from around the block. We had dragged a diesel generator onto the roof and had plugged it into the gaming consoles downstairs. We had lined the outside of the store with speakers and strobe lights.

Survival tip #5: Be a hero. He is the only guy not dead in the end.

That much was pretty consistent in all the zombie moves and stories. The hero usually  is the most courageous of them all and he is hardly ever dead at the end. I wanted myself to be brave, but more importantly the ‘not dead’ part enticed me. That was the reason I had conjured up this high-risk high-reward plan.

The plan sounded simple enough. We would start the generator, and the music blaring from the speakers would fill the silent night air. The lighting display would act as a beacon shining in a coal mine. Zombies from miles away would be drawn to this store like moths to a flame. Funny I say that because that is precisely what’s in store for them.In a couple of hours when every single zombie that could be here is here, I shall light up a rag and toss it through the skylight. The gas cans would burn,  propane tanks explode and the improvised shrapnel would tear through everything in the blast radius.  Before the stink of a thousand burning undead bodies reached us, we would have walked across the wooden plank to the roof of an adjoining building and run far away by the time the fireworks began. We would have to be far from here when the basement tanks exploded.

I looked towards Kim and she seemed scared. I don’t blame her for not wanting to be at the center of an undead riot. I reached out and held her hand reassuringly. I had thought this over umpteen times and the plan was bulletproof. I gave her an assuring nod, walked towards the generator and yanked the cord. Once, twice and … all of a sudden this dead city came to life. But it didn’t feel or sound anything like I had imagined. The monotonic arcade music from multiple gaming consoles mixed together in a haphazard lack of rhythm. The various string-lights, strobes and floodlights flashed psychedelic. This sounded worse than anything I had ever heard, including some of the rock concerts I had been to. Nevertheless I saw shadows moving from across the street towards us. I guess the zombies weren’t fussy about their taste in music.

Half an hour had passed and I already estimated over a couple of hundred zombies in the store. And as far I could see in the dark, I saw more of them making a beeline for us.  I was getting twitchy now. I didn’t want to start the pyrotechnics too soon for the fear of killing only a couple of hundred with hundreds more on their way. But I didn’t want to wait too long and risk the horde tearing the place apart and sabotaging my plan. I decided to wait as long as I could.

It was now getting close to an hour and there must have been between four to five hundred zombies in and around the store. They were literally trashing the place. I wanted to start the fireworks before something went horribly wrong. I squinted in the distance and could barely spot a dozen signs of movement. I decided it was time for the shenanigans. I lit up the rag, walked a heroic walk towards the skylight, peered down at the mass of zombies and tossed the flaming rag inside the store. I would have liked to say something that sounded cool, but couldn’t think of anything that wouldn’t sound stupid.

The ragged clothes on the zombies immediately caught on fire and spread rapidly through the store. The zombies were packed so tight in the store that within a minute they were all flaming. It was happening faster than I had anticipated! I motioned for Kim to rush. She ran for the edge of the roof and hopped on to the plank. Her foot landed on the edge of the plank, shifting it a bit. She overcompensated on her next step and missed landing on the plank altogether. She fell!

I peered over the edge. She had landed on the horde below, breaking her fall. And she was up real quick and started running away towards the relatively empty street. At least a dozen zombies hobbled after her. Instinctively, I reached out towards the ledge and tried spotting a good place to land, but a thought flashed across my head like those pop-up ad banners on some websites.

Survival tip #5: Don’t be a hero. Heroics get you killed.

The thought was annoyingly true. How many times have we read a murder mystery and flinched when the brave guy tries to take on the killer alone? How many times have we predicted the unfortunate outcome of a movie scene when a brave guy tries to fight off the bad guys alone?

It was better to be a coward than end up dying a courageous death. Especially in a case such as this where there wasn’t even any witness to laud your bravery. Even if I jumped after her, the two of us would make only  slightly better odds against those hundreds. I didn’t like this one bit, but my survival instincts took over.

I ran across to the other building and jumped onto the next one. Just then, a blinding light flashed turning the night into day. A huge blast echoed through the neighborhood. And the shockwave that followed threw me a couple of feet away. I rose to my feet and looked back. Thick black smoke billowed from where the arcade once stood. The mushroom cloud of smoke resembled some pictures I had seen of volcanic eruptions. I knew none of the zombies in and around the store would have survived that blast. The ones that hadn’t shattered   in the shockwave would burn to ash in the searing heat.

I turned in the other direction. Kim was trying to get onto her feet. She had been far away enough from the blast to have avoided a serious injury, but so were the zombies chasing her. I saw about a dozen zombies stand up and continue going after her. I would have liked to help her, but I wouldn’t be able to fight off so many zombies bare handed. And Kim would only slow me down if more zombies rushed us. I turned away.

I didn’t know if Kim saw me running away. I didn’t even know if I cared if she saw. Right now, my survival instincts were in complete control of my body – all my base are belong to it *. I kept fleeing away. The loud blast, flame engulfed building and billowing smoke would be spotted from miles away. If those lights and speakers brought in five hundred of them, this would bring in more than a few thousand. That had been the secondary plan. While those zombies were being drawn towards this, I had a better chance of sneaking past them towards a safer place outside the city. I would be miles away by the time the horde reached the arcade … and Kim.

I stopped like I had run into a concrete wall. I felt my breath being knocked out of me. I lost all my strength and fell to my knees. There was  no concrete wall in front of me. Only the wall of morality. And conscience. And maybe love. I couldn’t go ahead with this. I couldn’t flee leaving that girl fighting for her life. I stood up and ran back towards the crimson glow.

In the distance, against the harsh glow of the ever rising flames I saw the silhouette of Kim staving off the  zombies and trying to escape. But there were just too many of them and Kim was struggling to find a way past them. I charged headfirst into the mob pushing and ramming everything out of the way. I think Kim saw me. She paused fighting for a split second and a zombie behind her was about to seize the opportunity to bite her neck. I leaped over the ones between us and got my punch right onto the rotting face of that zombie. My fist almost went completely through his face. I held Kim by her wrist and pulled her away from the mob. We ran, arms flailing and knocking everyone who stood in our way.

We had to run as fast and as far away as we could. With all those propane tanks in the basement, the blast that had already occurred would feel like a firecracker compared to what was coming. I could bet on the blast flattening out the whole block. We kept running.

Initially, we spotted several zombies heading towards the fires. But we hadn’t seen a zombie for quite some time now. We stopped running. All was quiet. All we heard was our own heavy panting. I looked over my shoulder. The flaming store was so far behind us, we could only see its orange glow from this distance. But the glow was pretty spread out. The fire probably had spread to adjoining buildings by now. It would be days before the fire burned down its own fuel and died. Till then it would keep gravitating zombies towards it. And when those dozens of tanks in the basement exploded, they would take down the city block and the hundreds of zombies with them. I think our path out of the city would be pretty safe.

In my peripheral vision,  I noticed Kim staring at me. I looked at her. She had a look that said it all. She wanted to kill me for leaving her and running off. She wanted to hug me tight and cry for coming back for her. She did neither. She grabbed me by my hair and pulled my face onto hers.

Survival tip #5: Be a hero. He always gets to have the cute girl.

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In this series:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

About Filya

'As you can see, we've had our eye on you for some time now, Mr. Jokhi. It seems that you've been living two lives. In one life, you're Firoz Jokhi, program writer for a respectable software company. You have a Social Security number, you pay your taxes, and... you help your wife carry out her garbage. The other life is lived in computers, where you go by the hacker alias Filya, and are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not.' - The Matrix

Posted on September 30th, 2011, in Humor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

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