What the Old Man Did 10

April 17, 2012

Four weeks later we were just outside Cleveland, Ohio. There was little left of the city. Toni explained that the government had tried to concentrate the infected in the city and used the National Guard to wipe them out. Simultaneously, it was tried in Atlanta and Boston. The increased incubation period made the protocol spectacularly unsuccessful. I wondered how many zombies there were.

The highway running next to Lake Erie was crowded with cars and it was difficult to drive there. We finally decided to head south at the next exit. The road was not easy on our car anyway. We had to travel slowly to avoid the large holes and cracks in the concrete. Heading south on highway 306, we entered a little historical town called Kirtland. We drove up a hill and stopped at a run down old building that must have been a church as some point. Apparently it had morphed into some kind of monument. The broken windows attested to looting. But now there was no one around.

Just then a group of zombies moved up the road. Clearly they had been wandering the countryside. Like most of the things that were not trapped indoors, they were nearly naked and bore marks of rough living. Some had missing arms or hands. White bone was visible in the faces of several.

I had not been idle during our travels. I’d picked up some more exotic firepower. I pulled out a silenced military piece with laser sighting. When the red dot appeared on the leader’s forehead I squeezed the trigger. All of them went down, one after the other. Just then Toni yelled, “More of them over here!”

The old church doors were off their hinges and what looked like 50 or so had exited and were coming. I loaded a new magazine and fired at them. I heard Toni pulling the bolt on a duplicate weapon. We took down half of them before they were within 30 feet. Hopping in the car we pulled about 100 feet down the road, got out and repeated the process. It took once more before we got them all. But at least we made very little noise.

Moving back to the old church we got out and brought our gear inside.

The place was certainly run down with pealing paint and warped wood. Rather than enter the somewhat darkened room ahead, I climbed the stairs to my left. Toni followed closely, her rifle slung. “Take it off,” I whispered. You never knew what you might meet. At the top of the stairs were doors. I opened one very gingerly. Peaking through the crack I could see little. Getting out my handgun, I pulled the door back. At first the room appeared to be empty. But as my vision adjusted I saw what seemed to be children, standing in aisles between benches. They stood still, like statues.

I must have stood there for a full 5 minutes. I hadn’t seen a child in this world for a very long time. But my hesitancy nearly cost us our lives. Toni began to pull at my sleeve. Startled from some strange dream, I saw they were moving to us. And they, for all their perfection, were not real children. Not growing changing children. These were a horrible imitation of children. They were zombies. I slammed the door and turned to follow Toni down the stairs when I heard her gun ratchet and fire. The stairs were a double affair, going down both sides of the building so I hurried to the other side. I saw heads moving up in slow cadence. To my right bad luck continued. The doors were opening. The latch had not caught. I ran back to the where Toni was shooting. She hadn’t stopped. Swinging around the banister, I saw the bodies piled up near the bottom, with others still entering the doors in some strange simulacrum of “going to meeting.” I started firing too, yelling at the same time,

“We have to leave!” She gave me a sarcastic look.

I started down the stairs keeping up the firing. She had no choice but to go with me. Finally there was a break.


I resisted the urge to look back. She followed. Turning the corner I ran into one, sending us both flying down the front steps. I caught a glimpse of others approaching from down the hill. Getting up, I didn’t bother with the one slowly standing up. I yelled for her, but just as before, she passed me by, running full steam. I tried to keep up, but it was a losing battle. She arrived at the car, climbed in and started moving slowly. At first I thought she was going to leave me behind, but I saw the strategy. There were some close to the car, coming from the woods to the left, and she wanted distance between us. At last, breathing like a wind storm, I opened the door and hopped in. She hit the “gas” and I turned to watch a nightmare out the rear window. Those children had somehow been infected and then trapped in that upper room for a decade I thought. Their clothing was intact, faces serene, covered in dust.


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