Just as an extra warning, there is rough language in this excerpt. If you're offended by such things now is the time to skip off. I will not be offended at all, trust me.
The following day we were standing alongside Route 10. It had been agreed upon that we should keep a nice wide berth from Winnipeg, just in case the city had been overrun. Our intrepid band was staring across a huge area of what had been manicured yard that led up to a few acres of chain-link fence topped with circlets of barbed wire.
"I don't know," I said, chewing on a rather crisp apple we had borrowed from a tiny deserted Mom & Pop store about fifty miles back, "I'm just not sure how intelligent it would be to try to survive a zombie apocalypse inside a prison."
Rodney, of course, had a different take on the situation than I did. Shocking, I know.
"I think once we got it cleared out we'd be set," he said, gazing around my mother and Tink to locate me. All our asses were against the side of his Escalade. The wind was making a lovely whistling sound as it blew through the barbed wire. "They've got tons of food, weapons, medical supplies. Hell, we could hunker down in there and not come out for years."
"We could also run into a thousand inmates," Gordon interjected, his brown eyes roaming over the seemingly innocuous minimum-security prison. "Either way, infected or no, that is not a situation I'm comfortable putting ourselves into."
"I'm with Gordon," I seconded. "I say we move on, further north to the Territories, as we all agreed. The further we get from the border the fewer infected we should encounter."
"We'll also have shorter summers and worse winters," Rider said. I appreciated his reminder but I was backing Gordon on this one. "I'm not saying I'm not willing to go, I'm just wanting y'all to bear in mind the further north we go the harder survival is going to be. We got a shit load of stuff to do and learn before snow flies."
"Yeah, we got that down pat, Rodney," Justine said, reaching up to swat a persistent fly from her face. "I say we move north. I'm filling up on med supplies every stop we make and that place . . ." she flicked the prison a distrustful dark glance. "I'm not taking Eden into a prison."
I stepped from the Escalade and pushed my sticky fingers through my lanky blond hair. What I wouldn't give for a proper shower. I hadn't had a hot bath since that rest stop Gordon and I pulled into back in -- Ohio was it? Pennsylvania? Things get blurry when you're running for your life.
"Show of hands," I said, rolling the half-eaten Gala between my palms. "Those who want to move on, raise your hands." I crammed the apple in my mouth and looked down the line. A tweak of a smile tugged at my mouth when I found the Colonel at attention with his flattened age-spotted hand resting on his bushy silver eyebrows. It seemed we were unanimous after Rider grudgingly shoved his mitt into the air.
Monotony is nearly as deadly as infected zombies. Driving for hour after hour was enough to make even those with the patience of Job cranky. So when any sort of new distraction appears, those who are bored out of their minds leap on it. Our newest distraction came when we were about seven hours north of the prison. It was The Colonel, believe it or not, who spied the man walking down the middle of the road. I was driving the Escalade, chewing on some peanut butter bread, when our elderly neighbor leaned forward in the passenger seat, squinting so hard his bushy silver eyebrows were nearly lying on his bottom eyelid.
"Half a league, half a league, half a league onward," he said, pointing a crooked finger at a lone figure following the yellow line. I slowed the Caddy down. Gordon came up from the rear, his dark head sliding between the seats while he gripped the headrests.
"Is it a phobie?" he asked. Tink appeared, sticking her little brown and pink head over Gordon's shoulder.
"He's not walking like a phobie," she commented, lifting her thumbnail to her teeth. She had a point. The man was strutting down the middle of the road with a lively gait, his arms swinging to and fro as if he were taking a happy summer stroll. I crept forward, nudging a Suburban with a bloody back window out of the way. I glanced into the rearview. Mom was behind the wheel of the S-10, giving Justine a driving break. My sight returned to Mister Spring Stroller. He was an older man, with black and silver hair pulled into a ponytail the dangled down his back. Not a thin man by any means either. He wore black pants, a black vest over a tie-dyed tee, and a black top hat with a menagerie of different feathers arranged artfully in the band.
"What the fuck does he think he's doing?" Rodney asked, his voice muddy with sleep. I looked back to see the man leaning around Tink, his hand resting casually on her left shoulder. We slowed to a stop. The man stopped beside a car that was obviously holding a phobie. The windows were so smeared with blood and bile you couldn't make out what was inside, but the constant shaking of the old Sprint should have warned the fidiot not to tug the handle up. I tossed open the driver's side door and hit the ground running, my handgun up and aimed at the blue Sprint.
"Don't open that door!" I yelled. The Sunday Stroller turned at the shout. He was wearing round orange sunglasses. It was like looking at Jerry Garcia's twin, I shit you not.
"Have no fear, my brother," he said with a smile of utter assurance, "The Mighty Almighty One will protect me."
I couldn't get to him fast enough. I heard Tink, Gordon, Rodney, and even the Colonel shouting at him.
"Plunged into the battery smoke!" the dear old gent in the oversized cap and Gordon's jacket warned. The ass-crack yanked the door open.