Luciens howls and scrambles forward as a zombie grabs at him relentlessly. Crawling, hopping, and staggering after Ela with his bad leg. He yells curses at her in Canadian for leaving him behind and eventually she stops and waits – slapping him across the face and then helping him to catch up with the others. A few minutes later they’re together on Main Street Sueno Beach. A street strewn with poorly parked cars, doors open and clogged with half-devoured bodies. There’s blood, bile, guts, bullets, and octane everywhere. Ela and the gang hunker down behind a mini-van in front of a movie theater – the lobby filled with more gnawed-on bodies. There don’t seem to be any zombies in this area for now, but you can hear them not too far away.
Ela is sweeping her eyes around the area alertly “Okay, here’s the plan, we need weapons, and lots of them. So what we’re going to do is . . .”
Elvis wipes at the blood seeping off Lucien’s gnarled leg with his bee-suit “Weapons? We need to get to Lucien to the hospital. His leg is bleeding badly and I don’t think I can stop it. We need to fix him up and then we can . . .”
Ela all but spits at him “Are you stupid? What do they have at hospitals? Morgues. And what do they have at morgues? Dead bodies. And what are zombies? Your honor, I rest my case. The hospital is zombie central, that’s the last place we’d want to go.”
Martialla is almost in Ela’s hip pocket she’s so close to her “Besides, all the doctors are probably dead anyway.”
Lucien is streaked with sweat and laboring “I think going to the hospital is good idea, no matter what the risk is. Not just for [untranslatable Canadian gibberish] but for all of us. Even if there are no doctors left there’s going to be medical supplies, bandages, painkillers and the like. I think we’re going to need supplies like that before the night is out one way or the other. I know I could use some prescription strength shit right now.”
Ela is rummaging around in a blood-spattered sedan “Whatever we do, I say we leave Duke to die as we do it, it’s his fault all these zombies are here anyway.”
Duke’s eyes about bug out of his head “WHAT?!”
“Oh yeah, that’s what happens buddy – you mess with Ela and the whole world goes to hell.”
He throws his arms up helplessly/angrily “How did I ever mess with you? I never did anything to you, why do you hate me?
Ela slaps him “I said shut up. Fine, we’ll go to the hospital, but first we need to get some weapons if we’re going to have any chance of making it there. I’ll head to the police station. Martialla, you head to the army surplus store. John, you filthy trash-eating stink bug, you go to the hardware store. Tina, you’re going to head for the sporting goods place. Elvis, you stay here with Lucien and watch over him. Look for weapons that are easy to carry and don’t weigh much.”
Martialla waves her hands like a referee calling off a play “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa there lady. I am amazed at you, split up?” She laughs incredulously. “Split up?” She laughs again, but it’s kind of fake laughing. “What is this, amateur hour? Splitting up is the worst thing we could possibly do! If we split up, they’ll pick us off one by one – we need to stay together! Above everything else we need to stay together, safety in numbers.”
Duke gets in Ela’s grill “Yeah, what gives you the right to boss everyone around? Who died and made you pope?”
Ela shoves him back angrily “I’m the only one here who’s fit to lead. I’m the only one here with the guts to get us out of here alive. Who do you want to put in charge, you human cockroach?”
Elvis points “What about Lucien?”
Ela scowls “What about him?”
Martialla looks down at her injured friend “Yeah, what do you think Lucien, do you want to be in charge?”
Lucien shifts uncomfortably as all eyes turn to him “I think we should stay together and head for the hospital, if any of those places are on the way, we can stop and see what we can find. But I think either way, weapons aren’t as important as staying on the move, we should get out of here right now.”
Elvis helps pull Lucien to his feet “Great, let’s go.”
Ela, holding a tire iron she scavenged from a car looks like she’s about to say something, but just then zombies come bursting out of the shadows. The smell of human flesh fills their flapping rotten nostrils and they hungrily surge forward as fast as they can. Ela swings the tire iron and bashes one of the zombies in the noggin – its skull bursting like an over-ripe melon and spraying her with some kind of thick, blackish liquid.
Ela looks at her comprehensively befouled clown shirt with dismay “Gross! Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit drinking.”
In their mad dash to escape, our survivors scramble over cars, slip and slide through bloody pools, dodge half-eaten corpses like they’re running through tires at football practice, and struggle to stay together. This last part is hard because each and every time they come to a crossway, they all start to head in different directions. It turns out their argument about where to go was completely pointless because they can’t head to the hospital anyway – all they can do is go where the zombies aren’t. They end up in a veterinarian clinic, where Elvis and Duke are doing what they can for Lucien’s masticated leg while Tina looks on, concerned and useless. Ela and Martialla stand outside the front of the building keeping watch.
Lucien is gritting his teeth so hard it seems like they’re going to fly out of his head like Pez “[incomprehensible Canadian gibberish] it burns like the fires of Hades!”
Duke is sewing him up with callous disregard for his discomfort “Don’t be such a baby.”
Elvis looks on apologetically, holding Lucien’s hands for comfort “Sorry, but I don’t know anything about dog tranquilizers, I didn’t want to give you too much.”
Ela pokes her head back in through the door “So what’s the prognosis?” Lucien gives her a thumbs up with an unconvincing grimace. “Good, finish up.” She jerks her hand at Tina. “Come on, Riverdale, we’re going to take a look around.” They stride out together and Ela waves at Martialla to move out. “Let’s check this street out and see what’s what.”
Martialla mumbles under her breath “That’s a semantically null sentence.”
Tina looks around as she trails after them “Shouldn’t someone stay here to guard the door?”
Ela scoffs “If a zombie gets inside they’ll notice, they don’t need you to tell them about it.”
Martialla frowns “But the point of keeping a watch is to tell them before the zombies get inside isn’t it?”
Ela raises her hand “Do you want to get smacked?”
Martialla shrugs “I little, I’m not proud of it.”
Tina sighs “Can we just go die? Getting eaten alive is better than listening to you two flirt.”
They carefully creep around to the nearby buildings – trying to stay hidden while not sure that it makes any difference to stay hidden. How do zombie senses operate? Do they need to see you? Any which way, keeping a low profile can’t hurt. They don’t find anything useful right away, aside from a couple of flashlights at Radioshack, but the lawn and garden store has some goodies. Ela and Martialla are standing in an aisle arguing, as is tradition.
Martialla throws a shovel down angrily with a clang “I told you Ela, get hoes, not shovels!”
Ela purses her lips and puts her hands on her hips “Martialla, I hardly think this is the time for that kind of thing. I admire your womanly desires, being able to keep up your carnal appetite at a time like this, but it’s not really helpful. Not to mention which, I’m sure all the prostitutes got killed already since they were out on the streets walking around, as is tradition.”
She grabs up a hoe “NOT HOOKERS you dolt!! Hoes! Like this! You know, the kind you use in the garden?” She swings it through the air, kind of near Ela’s head. “See that, it’s more effective as a weapon than a shovel, what are you going to do with a shovel? Dig your own grave?”
She gets to not prove her point immediately, as zombies come busting in the big front window with much shattering of glass and moaning, scaring the holy beejeeses out of the both of them. Martialla attacks with her hoe but it gets stuck in a zombie’s chest – which doesn’t seem to inconvenience it one little bit. Ela knocks it down with her shovel and then whacks off his head, putting an end to his flesh-eating days. But there’s a whole heapin’ helpin’ of visceral pain coming in zombie form right behind that one, so they high tail it once more.
Ela shouts at Tina as they run past her “Incoming!”
Tina turns to follow them, but her eyes spot something and she gets a gleeful grin on her face. It’s one of them glass cases with a fire axe inside that boldly declares “Break in Case of Emergency”. This certainly seems like it qualifies, don’t you think?
Tina smashes the glass with a flower pot and reaches through gingerly “Jackpot.” She seizes the axe like a llama attacking a waffle and turns back to the shambling horde coming up behind her. “Who wants a piece? You want a piece?”
Ela and Martialla have exited out the back and are out in the street ten yards or so away from the lawn and garden store, once again arguing. Although for variety this time, they’re also wrestling over the shovel like two tweens in a jeans commercial.
Ela yanks the shovel her way “No! You are not going to lose our only weapon, Martialla! Tina is dead! Forget about her! She’d be out here by now if she was going to come out!”
Martialla yanks the shovel back her way “We can’t leave her behind! It’s not right, just let me go back in there and check!”
Ela shakes her head and yanks the shovel back her way “Go back in there if you want, but you’re not going to get this shovel out of my hands! It’s all we have, we can’t risk it on the hopeless notion that Tina might be alive in there still. Face facts, she’s zombie-chow! Which is more use than she ever was in life, honestly”
Martialla lets go of the shovel and Ela suddenly almost falls over backwards “You are such a coward! You never think about anyone but yourself!”
Before Ela can respond, Tina comes walking up to them with an axe over her shoulder – covered from head to toe with gore and zombie skruge “Come on, we better get back to Lucien and the others.”
I’m placing the Ela-pocalypse story on hold for October so I can present a special Ela Halloween story. This idea tested very poorly with focus groups. Please note that his takes place in 2002 before zombies were gauche. That’s how writing works right, your work is judged by the standards of the era it’s set in?
I’d feed a llama a waffle, no question.
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