Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Part 11



"Girls.  Geez.  We're in the middle of the zombiapocalypse and you still worry about your weight."

"Don't be a dork," I told Lee.  "All I said was that I'm 4'11" and unless I want my butt to get as big and round as a beach ball I need to eat what a 4'11" person is supposed to eat, not what a dimwitted 5'11" guy eats.  So stop putting stuff on my tray."

A catty voice chimed in with, "Yeah DeeDee.  C'mon and eat.  You look like a toothpick with boobs and a pointy head.  It's not very attractive."

I sighed.  Just my luck.  The three scream queens survived and picked up where they left off making my life H E double hockey sticks. However, they were about to learn I was done being a doormat.  "Denise!  Wow, look at you though.  You've really perfected the vamp look.  Pale and sickly really suits you.  It really, really does."

Her mouth fell open in shock.  It had taken a year in purgatory but I'd finally learned to fight back.

"And Brenna.  You are rockin' that fresh as a daisy zombie girl thing.  Is it make up or is it real?"

Leila was the smartest of the three and got before I turned the crosshairs on her, dragging away the other two with her while they still looked back at me confused.

"Dang," Lee whispered.  "What is up with you? I know things were bad for you but you're home now.  You don't have to act like that.  No need for the cat girl routine."

I shrugged and started mixing the scrambled eggs, cheese, and sausage on my plate into a nearly unidentifiable mess.  I figured if it was going to taste gross it might as well look gross.  Cafeteria food is still cafeteria food even when the world has ended.  Turning to Lee I said, "I want to be left alone.  What they wanted was to go back to running my life the way they always had.  What I wanted was more important than what they wanted so I made it happen.  I'll give you your space."

I tried to stand up and take my tray but he grabbed my arm.  "Sit down.  All I meant was why so touchy.  You never cared what they said before."

And apparently boys were still idiots too.  "Oh I cared," I answered him.  "I just wasn't going to let anyone else know that.  But ... oh just forget it."

Then that Cochran guy suddenly appeared and sat down right next to me and told Lee, "Hey Bro ... your ol' man said I can take this watch.  He said you're scheduled for debriefing."

Lee said a bad word and I kicked him under the table.  "Ow!  What was that for?"

"For the F-bomb."

"Cochran curses too."

"I know.  I heard him yesterday."

"How come you aren't kicking him?" he complained.

"Because you are normally a gentleman, know me better, and have better sense."

Lee was scowling and Cochran was smiling.  Two seconds after what I said registered Lee started grinning which set Cochran to frowning.  Lee said, "Yeah.  I do."  With a warning look at Cochran he turned back to me and said, "I'll catch up with you as soon as I can. Sometimes the debriefings go a little long."

"OK."

Lee walked away and Cochran eased back on the the intentional irritation.  "Friends with Berio a long time?"

"Sheriff Berio was my dad's trainer when he first became a deputy.  Lee and I have just sort of always known each other I guess."

"He you're boyfriend?"

I looked at Cochran and rolled my eyes.  "Is that all guys think about?"

"Maybe not all ... but a lot.  In case you haven't noticed there aren't exactly a crowd of girls our age to talk about it to though."

I had kinda noticed that.  "I know three that are."

"The ones over there that you were fighting with?"

"Not fighting with.  Discouraging.  Go show them your six pack.  Last I remember they were really into that sort of thing."

I don't know what he would have said to that because I nearly fell backwards off the bench when Sgt. Watson sat down on my other side.  Hard.  And on top of that nearly cracked Cochran with his crutch.

Cochran's voice went up an octive.  He stood up real fast and said, "Sgt. Watson."

"Go check the duty roster Cochran."

"Uh ... Sheriff Berio said that DeeDee here needed an escort and ..."

"I heard what the sheriff said.  And that's Ms. Phillips to you until I say otherwise.  I will be escorting her back to the clinic."

When Cochran left at a real quick walk I turned to Sgt. Watson and said, "I could have handled him.  He's a puppy compared to what I've been dealing with."

He snorted.  "I didn't do it for you.  I did it so Cochran wouldn't get in trouble or cause a fight.  You're too young and like he was telling you, there aren't all that many females in your age range around."

"Yeah, what's up with that?"

He sighed.  "I could say it nice but apparently you prefer the unvarnished truth."

Since it was true I just asked, "Which is?"

"Girls don't run as fast as guys."  I sighed when I understood what he meant.  Sarge continued, "I was told the school was completely overrun.  The scientists we've got around here think the infecteds were actually attracted to the school first because they sensed prey either by sound or even pheromones."

"Hmph.  If they smelled anything it would have been the guys' locker room.  That place always reeked."

Sgt. Watson looked at me and said carefully, "You're home Kid, you don't need to act so tough anymore."

"I'm not home.  Apparently I don't have a home.  Someone else is living in it and the stuff that used to be mine is likely being used by someone else."  I shook my head when he started to say something.  "No.  I'm not feeling sorry for myself.  I'm kinda hacked off but I didn't have a lot of hope there'd be anything left when I got here anyway."  After a paused to let the burn cool down I said, “The town is different than what I expected."

"How so?  A lot of the residents said it is almost normal."

I nodded slowly.  "Exactly.  It feels like the Twilight Zone.  To me the city is 'normal' or the way things should be.  Here is ... here is like the echo of a really old memory.  It's real ... but only because it happened in the past."

Giving me a look that was uncomfortably understanding he told me, "Give yourself time."

Problem was I didn't believe that was gonna work.  I told him, "That's the thing.  I don't know how much time I've got and if people are all happy with this Mayberry make believe and wanting to forget what is really out there ... I don't know how much time they've got left either."

He glanced around quickly and then said, "If you're through eating we need to get you back to the clinic."

“Whatever.”

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