Thursday, June 16, 2011
Once the boy was taken to the back room with the surgeon, Will was lost in his thoughts as he walked back the way he had come into the town. He slipped the weathered bandana out from under his neck and wiped away the grime left from the tears that had mixed with the dust of the road. The road that had carried him from the parents he abandoned. The friends. Yvell.
Will could still feel the weight of the envelope given to him by General Roland as he stared into the open plain before him. The road he had taken was dwarfed by the wilderness stretching to either side of the broken pavement. What was he going to do with Jac? The surgeon was confident he would not loose the use of his leg. On and on the highway stretched into the dying remnants of the sun, giving its last light in remembrance of what the he and the kid had gone through together. Reminding him of the danger that threatened beyond the horizon.
Will was so lost in thought he failed to hear the footsteps approaching. Dr. Calvs stopped and followed Will’s gaze into the west.
“The boy is gonna make it. He told me what you did. What it took to get him here.”
Will said nothing, but turned around to look into the night. The road stretched through the small one-street town and on into the darkness. Would the future always hold such little hope? How many times would he be forced to abandon?
“He also told me about what you carry.”
Will cursed silently under his breath. Jac, if he had one flaw, was that he was too trusting. He met the doctors gaze, “What are you going to do?”
“Don’t rightly know son. Probably outta tell the mayor. Sherriff. Someone.”
“They’re drawn to fear. Did Jac tell you that? How do you think this town would respond?”
The doctor was silent as he took in the town. Will followed the elderly man’s eyes to what he suspected was his home.
“Probably not too well I’d reckon. Look here young man, you know what you need to do. You have gotta get that message to the people that need it. There is a port about a day’s run from here. Our only chance as I see it is for you bring help back with you.” He paused, glancing down at the blade strapped to Will’s right side. “Crazy thing that a lefty would carry the lives of my family in his back pocket.”
Will grunted at that. Even now, here of all things, he was being underestimated. “And Jac?”
“I’ll watch him.”
Darkness gathered, the sun surrendering to the deep. Self-loathing boiled inside of him, hollowing out the last vestiges of his honor. What was the point of being a soldier when duty always demands one to turn their back to the enemy?
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Stepping around his desk, Cliff rubbed his eyes clear of the late night grime that had build up the past few hours. He was anxious. “So certainly, Henry, they must be hitting something.”
His chief of operations set the handheld radio down and shook his head. “Well, boss, they claimed to have counted 10,000 bodies up to now and if you cut it in half, there must be another 5,000 that they have killed that we don’t find.”
“Sure, sure.” Looking down from the 50th floor in the high-rise, the torches could be seen as cleanup began after the previous days fierce fighting. Those on the ground had the odd appearance of ants working feverishly to rebuild their mound. Desperate to rebuild what once seemed so impervious to an invader.
“Regarding the gas attacks...”
Cliff shook his head in disagreement, already knowing the argument about to be presented. He had wrestled with it enough in the quiet hours of the night without having to go through the exact same argument again aloud. Pointing his finger out across the bay, he began “Well, I’ll tell you they are being punished and they are taking heavy casualties. The #($)@ are...”
George, the CO, sat down on the plush leather couch, away from the window. Pliable but firm, the middle-aged man wondered if the furniture in the room would one day be artifacts of better days long gone. “Boss, if they don’t make it this time, they are not going to come back for two years.” George had friends in that vault. It was well stocked, but no one relished the idea of having half of their resources sealed up, incapable of being accessed if everything hit the fan.
Cliff, however, was not an optimist. “If they don’t make it this time , we’re out of the woods, but the point is that we have to realize though that our hold card is that vault.” Humanity would survive. There was little evidence that the rest of the world was having better success with fighting off the attacks than they were. Cliff thought it safer to takethe long view in this round of bets.
His employee, though, was the eternal optimist. Maybe he had to be. His daughter was in the next room. “However, that’s why you’ve got make the deal with the Russians now. I don’t want a meeting — you see, when you meet with them it’s either got to be on the way to settlement or we make a run for the vault. You see that’s the one thing I’m concerned about, these &#@!, that they will intentionally block us.” The deal with the Russians was a long shot, remnants of an agreement made years before about a targeted biological weapon. Cliff’s corporation had been responsible for the science necessary to target the zombies. The Russian side was responsible for ensuring it didn’t affect every living thing on the planet.
“They can’t ignore you beyond the 25th of April,” George continued.
“Right.” Cliff sat back behind his desk. Three more days. They had to survive three more days for the shipment to arrive at the nearby pier. If only the Russians were as good as their word. If only they didn’t have evidence of their attempt to cause a coup within his own company. He had no intention of saving the world just to hand it to the communists.
“And on the other hand, boss, the major thing now is to beat down these zombies from the north side. I told the board that you could not have a reasonable summit meeting if there were major action going on right on the docks.” Obviously Cliff thought, as George continued to ramble on about their defenses. Zombies leaping from pier to ship would hardly be a greeting that would inspire confidence in their allies.
He waited until the defense of his subordinates plan was complete before replying with the obligatory,“Right.”
“The commander understands this, doesn’t he?” George was never very trusting of the military type.
The older man grunted back a reply, “Yes.”
“Good, but we can’t go there with radiation and gas killing both the Russians and zombies. Hell, no, we’re not going to go, and I don’t give a dime for what the commander says. Those aren’t just reasonable precautions, it means there a isn’t going to be no meeting after they’re through, that’s what he’s got to understand.”
“Hello? Anyone there?” Despite the fact that fastfood was famous for both atrocious service and the further warning of the lack of any sort of business at peak hours.
There was a pause, and then, “Yes, welcome to KFC…”
Gevar interrupted with a sigh. “Great. I was starting to get worried.”
“Worried about what sir?”
“Oh nothing, just that everything is okay in there”, Gevar replied absently, readying his order for the soccer team.
The reply came back much quicker this time. “Oh no sir, nothing here to be worried about. Everything in here is perfectly normal.”
“Again, good. Is it alright if I give you my order now?”. Crazy kids these days, thought Gevar. It’s a fast food joint, there is a somewhat limited amount of situations that would prevent someone from reaching a microphone for five minutes. Most involve a smoke break or teenage antics.
“Again, great. I want five orders of the 12 piece nugget meal, 4 classic sandwiches, and 4 wraps.” Gevar paused halfway down, waiting for confirmation.
A long pause.
“Sorry sir, but we’re out of chicken, I can’t fill your order.”
“You’re out of what?”
“How is that possible!? Chicken is in the name of your freaking store! Where is your manager?” Looking down at his balled fists he realized the list was crumbled in a small ball.
“I’m sorry for the inconvenience sir”, came the weak reply.
Gevar felt his bloodpressure rising as he responded, “Sorry! What good does that do me? Simply unbelievable. Do you realize how much of my time you’ve wasted?”
Another pause. Gevar assumed he had reached the next level in the hierarchy in the chicken kingdom. He took a breath as he prepared to speak to another being with common sense. Management. Of course, any adult who had freely chosen a career in the frying of chicken and babysitting underage employee couldn’t be assumed to have a full grasp on reality.
“Listen here little man. Who are you ordering this chicken for?”
Gevar was both confused and surprised by the audacity and rudeness of the manager. He ignored the insult, since clearly the manager’s sanity was, in fact, non-existant, and pressed on.
“My daughter’s soccer team.”
Raucous laughter came through the speaker. Apparently the manager wasn’t the only person listening in on this conversation.
“Aw….how cute! Daddy running errands for his little girl?”
Gevar’s patience was gone. No one messed with his little girl. His, “Proud father of an honors student” bumper sticker was freshly pasted on the back of the minivan, fresh from the end of last semester. If there was anything he prided himself on, it was his love and service for family. Pressing this button was too much for him. Inhibitions fled, rage took over. His voice rose to a fevered pitch as he shouted back into the mounted microphone.
“Who in the world do you think you are? Who are you to criticize me? What kind of business management ridicules people try to buy from you?”
“What kind of father talks to a 15 year old boy like he is an idiot when whether or not we have chicken is obviously not something a minimum wage teenager would be responsible for? You should listen to yourself”, the manager spat.
Gevar stared at the kiosk in utter shock.
Never before had he been insulted, outraged, and convicted, all at the same time.
Swallowing his pride, he started, “Hold on, I’ll park then come inside.”
No pause this time, the gruff voice emphatically asked why he would do such a thing.
“To apologize to the young man. I was wrong.”
Inside the restaurant, Kevin was stunned. Never before in the two years of working the drive through had he heard those words. Never had any customer even remotely apologize for words or actions.
He had seen it all. People raging about whether or not there should have been ketchup. Raging about the lack of cheese. Furious over having failed to give them a nickel in change. Kevin had been flicked off and cussed out, a verbal punching bag for patrons, the vast majority of times for things that were utterly out of his control. All of this he had grown to accept as normal. Now, on this day of all days, someone was actually wanting to come in and apologize.
The grizzled man standing behind the microphone winced, muttering a curse as he covered the microphone with his hand.
“That won’t be necessary. We’re closed.” And with that, he motioned with his gun for Kevin to turn off the microphone.
“What a mess. Alright boys, lets get out of here. Do people always treat you like that kid?”
Kevin only nodded, marveling at the irony of the situation. The first person to actually stand up for him, the first time someone would actually want to apologize, all took place in the midst of his first experience being robbed.