Authors: Camden McInnis
Despite my little weapon, I felt completely naked and exposed once I was out in the open air. My body was trembling and I could feel a trickle of blood coursing down the side of my face and I quickly scanned the four of us to make sure that we were all okay. With Stan and Billy, I couldn’t really tell if they were hurt or not because they were both covered in blood—and I still wasn’t sure if it was their’s or not—but Ali was clearly hurt. She had a large gash down the right side of her face and it was gushing blood as if an artery had been sliced opened with a piece of glass, and she was cradling her left arm as if she’d broken or badly sprained it.
But even though she was clearly injured and probably in immense amounts of pain, she was completely calm and collected, her eyes scanning the horizon as if shows trying to spot something.
“That’s the Rochester farm over there,” Ali said as she motioned towards the distant red barn. Her voice was so flat that I thought she would pass out at any minute. “We should head in that direction, get out of the open.”
We all nodded in agreement and just as we started to move, the thing that had knocked us off the road seemingly fell from the sky and landed on top of the still steaming truck. It looked at us, its blood colored eyes shifting quickly between the four of us, its mouth of razor sharp teeth wide open, grinning madly. Somehow, I knew it was playing an internal game of catch a tiger by its toe, deciding which of us it would go after first.
Like a natural predator, it zoomed in on Ali. The thing launched itself at her, but despite its obvious speed advantage, the 3 of us somehow managed to tackle it in mid-air and bring it to the ground. Touching its flesh made my skin crawl. It was cold and grimy and remind me of a huge dead moth I had found when I was 7 or 8 years old. The only difference was the moth didn’t try to take a bite out of me with its ragged, bloody teeth or slash at me razor sharp fingernails.
The thing thrashed and fought, but somehow Stan and Billy managed to hold it down while I attempted to beat its head in with the tire iron. I had never felt more crazed or violent than I did at that moment. With each blow, I thought for sure that I would crack its skull open and its brains would leak out and turn the desert floor red. But each time I hit it and its skin would break open, the wounds would heal over almost immediately. Before I knew it, my arms were growing heavy with the effort of swinging the tire iron and I wheezed like a 30-year smoker.
“DUDE!” Stan yelled as he struggled to keep the things arms pinned to its sides. “Fucking kill this thing already!”
Finally, out of frustration, I drove the sharp end of the tire iron through its blood red right eye, putting all of my weight on top of it, and driving it right through it skull, pinning it to the ground. It thrashed about for a few seconds, bucking Stan and Billy off in its death throes and then finally went still. I stayed on top of it for a couple of minutes, letting myself catch my breath and preparing for it to come back to life at any second like a B-horror movie monster. Stan and Billy gently pulled me away from the thing, and obviously they were having the exact same thoughts I was having. But instead of just sitting on top of it like a bump on a log, they spent 5 minutes stomping the things skull in, turning its head into a black, foul-smelling smear on the desert floor.
Chapter 6: Saviors
The Rochester’s were one of the few prosperous farming families in Sleepy Creek.
Correction: They were the only successful farm family in Sleepy Creek.
Originally, after World War II, Sleepy Creek tried to bill itself as the next great Southern California farm town. The whole problem was, Sleepy Creek was in the middle of one of the largest, most barren deserts in not only California but in all of the United States. But still, more than a few families who had survived the dust bowls of the 1930’s and the young man meat grinder that was WWII settled the land and tried to make a go of things. Unfortunately, most of them were unable to grow anything other than scrub brush and juniper bushes. All except the Rochester’s. The enormous family of 10 found two separate crops which somehow managed to thrive: Cotton and Alfalfa.
Neither crop was exactly what you would call in high demand, but the Rochester’s did manage to find something on their property—actually under it to be more precise—that was in extremely high demand: Oil. Thanks to the profits from the 10 wells they sunk and drain over nearly 50 years, the Rochester’s were the wealthiest family in Sleepy Creek. However, despite the fact that they were Wealthy with a capital W, they still believed in working the land and making things grow, and the bulk of their property was still dedicated to cotton and alfalfa fields, both of which now sold at a premium, making the family even wealthier than they already were.
The barn we found ourselves licking our wounds was designated as Barn #3, one of 6 barns which housed all of the equipment needed to run the farm. Luckily, Barn #3 included a full infirmary stocked with just about everything you would need to treat virtually any wound inflicted by a piece of farm machinery or by a human like creature who wants to eat you alive. Our #1 concern, of course, was getting Ali comfortable, which was easy enough to do with nearly 20 vials of morphine that were stocked in the infirmary. Our #2 concern was figuring out what, exactly, had just tried to kill us and had apparently slaughtered every single member of our graduating class. Stan and Billy handled that particular dilemma as I clumsily set and dressed Ali’s broken arm.
“Dude, I’m telling you, they were zombies!” Stan yelled at his brother.
“Dude, shut the fuck up when the hell did you ever see a zombie move like that? They had to be vampires! Had to be!”
In case, I haven’t mentioned it, the one bit of craziness Stan and Billy inherited from their old man was they were a bit on the obsessive side, and what they were most obsessed about was horror movies. Their personal DVD and Blu-Ray collection contained 700 titles and I’m pretty sure nearly 699 of them were horror flicks (The only non-horror movie they owned, for some reason, was Road House, which they had watched so many times that they had had to replace it no less than 6 times.). Needless to say, Stan and Billy were pretty much experts on monsters. Well, at least fictional ones. With real ones, they were having a little bit of difficulty with identifying the genealogy of what had been hunting us.
“What about 28 Days Later?” Stan asked.
“Come on, dude, you know the things in 28 Days Later weren’t zombies, they were just inflicted with that monkey plague.”
“Well, what about Dawn Of The Dead?”
“You mean the Zack Synder version? Come on, you know that’s nothing but a cheap rip-off of the original. But, seriously, that thing we just killed, that thing that ripped off Amanda Crean’s head, those were straight up Nosferatu! I mean, shit, you saw all of them! You saw them drinking their blood!”
“There were more of them?” I asked as I quickly turned away from bandaging up Ali’s—who, thankfully, was very unconscious from the shot of dope I had given her—injured arm. “How many of them were there?”
Billy shook his head and stared down at his blood stained work boots.
“I don’t know, man, a lot of them.”
“And they seemed to just come out of nowhere,” Stan continued. “One minute I’m drinking a beer and trying to talk Amanda into giving me a blowjob, and the next I’m covered in her blood and running for my life.”
“Fuck,” I said, starting to pace as I pictured an army of those things swarming Sleepy Creek. I pictured my mom sleeping comfortably in her bed and suddenly being attacked by these things and my blood ran cold. “Do you think these things would go into town?”
Stan and Billy grew dead quiet, blood draining from their faces, their eyes going blank and full of fear with the possibility.
“Oh, shit.” Stan finally said.
“Yeah, oh shit is right. We’ve got warn them before it’s too late.” I said as I wiped away a single tear.
Even though Barn #3 sported one hell of a drug stash, it was lacking morethan a few comforts of home, most notably a work telephone or any other form mobile communication. And as far as our own cell phones, they had either gone missing during our escape or were so damaged they were nothing more than $200 glass paperweights. Not that they would have made much of a difference this far outside of town. Sleepy Creek was notorious for its cellular dead zones, particularly this far out into the desert. But the one thing we did have on our side was that barn # 3 was packed to brimming with various farm vehicles, including several 4 wheel drive trucks.
Although, not a single one of them appeared to be in working order. Obviously, Barn #3 was where the Rochester’s stored their dead or dying vehicles.
“Well ain’t that about a bitch,” Stan said as we tried to turn over the last of the derelict pieces of equipment.
“Maybe, you can try getting under the hood one of these heaps, Jimmy,” Billy said without an ounce of conviction in his voice. “I mean, it might be worth a shot.”
I just shook my head. I’d managed to keep the Datsun running pretty well over the years, but the fact was most of the vehicles in Barn #3 were all diesel powered and far newer than my now dead and mangled heap. Besides, even if I did manage to get one of the trucks running, we’d probably be too late to warn anybody in town about what was coming.
“You know, I don’t know if you two have noticed or not,” Stan said as he kicked at an invisible pebble. “But there’s a whole bunch of bikes over in the corner over there.”
Actually, I had noticed them when we started rummaging around the barn. The Rochester’s provided each of their workers with either a 10 speed or a cheap mountain bike for them to get around the acres and town. Mist everyone in Sleepy Creek and the newspapers in Riverside applauded thewealthy family for their dedication to the environment by providing the bikes to their employees, But I didn’t. The Rochester’s were just like every wealthy family in America, they were cheap as hell and treated their employees like shit. I mean, it was rumored the family was worth a couple BILLION dollars, and they could have easily afforded to buy each of their 30 or so farm hands a car of their own to get around in. Instead, they forced them to tool around on piece of shit $50 Schwinns from Wal*Mart.
But at the moment, they were our best chance to get into town as quickly as possible. Plus, the fact was, the 3 of us had spent our entire lives riding through the glens and valleys of Sleepy Creek. If anything, we were probably far safer riding into town on the bikes than we would be in a car. We could probably make it there in half the time just by going down the various trails and backroads we knew as opposed to taking the main road.
“Alright,” I finally said. “Let’s start going through them and find the sturdiest of them.”
We started rummaging and quickly found 3 fairly decent mountain bikes near the back of the pile.
“We’re going to need some weapons, too, man,” Billy said as he mounted his bike. “I ain’t stepping foot outside of this place without something todefend myself.”
“Shit, dude,” Stan said, “You know that ain’t gonna be a problem.”
In case you’ve never been on a farm before, you probably have no idea that most homesteads are usually just as well equip with stuff to fuck people up with than most National Guard barracks. I mean, you’re not going to find any semi-automatic weapons or any shit like that, but what you will find are things like machetes, scythes, knives of all kinds, axes, railroad spikes, and a dozen different ways to cut somebody to ribbons.
Oh, and explosives.
Lots and lots of dynamite, and Barn #3 just so happened to contain about a dozen industrial size crates of the stuff. Yeah, there was a better chance than not we weren’t going to make it into town to warn folks about what was coming, but we were definitely going to fuck up some monsters if they tried to stop us.
Chapter 7: The Calvary
There was no way Ali was going to be able to make the trip into town with her injuries. So I shot her up with just a little more dope (Not a lot, just enough to make sure she stayed asleep and comfortable until dawn. There were a lot of things I wish I could completely forgot about my dad’s death—in fact, I wish I could take out my brain and scrub the memory out with an industrial dishwasher—but the one thing I was glad I retained was how to administer morphine.), and left a note for her letting her know I would be back for her and that I loved her. I kind of figured I wouldn’t have a second chance to tell her in person, especially if the creatures had made it into town, so a note was going to have to do.
We locked Barn #3 and headed out in complete silence. The 3 of us were armed to teeth and ready to throw down at moments notice. Each of us carried 2 machetes, a few carpenters knives, and 10 sticks of dynamite each along with a couple of industrial lighters. Stan even brought along a couple of cans of lighter fluid in case we either had to refuel our lighters or had to set something or someone on fire. I didn’t think we were going to need them, but Stan was kind of a pyro, so neither me or Billy made a big deal out of it.
As we rode in silence down the familiar bike and hiking trails of Sleepy Creek, I couldn’t help but start thinking about all of the summer days the 3 of us had spent speeding down these trails without a care in the world. There was only us, the dirt beneath our wheels, and our futures stretching out impossibly far away from our tiny, backward little desert town. When you’re a small-town kid, all you think about is leaving and never coming back. Traveling to far away cities and countries, maybe becoming rich or famous or both, and then maybe someday coming back to relive old memories and gloat about your success, and maybe rub it in the faces of all the people who’d never left.