Saturday, July 26, 2014

Part 20

When I was little we learned a song in Sunday School.  It started out "Oh be careful little ears what you hear" and went on and on about stuff.  The verse that is stuck in my mind right now is about being careful what you see.  Once you see something you can never wash it out of your mind no matter how much bleach you use.  I have enough of that rolling around my brain cells, I didn't need more.

After the rain stopped I skated for two days and then one of the wheels broke on the inlines and I took a dive onto the blacktop.  Even though I was wearing pads and a helmet I got pretty wrecked up.  When I could make myself get up and start walking again I knew I wouldn't get much further so got off the highway and turned into a little town where we used to stop to get gas and old-fashioned thick cut baloney sandwiches.  We'd also get ice cream if it was hot and my favorite that I never found anyplace else was lemon drop flavored milkshake.  For some reason I just had to see the place again.

Walking into town I noticed right off huge signs that directed people to an "evacuation point."  It might explain how come I haven't been seeing people, not even salvagers.  I've seen some triage type set ups off the highway but nothing that looks like people - uninfected people - have been in the area any time recently.

I limped my way to the store and sat down on the bench outside.  It seemed somehow sacrilegious to just bust a window to get in but it is probably what I would have done if I hadn't looked up and seen the little boy.  Talk about a freak out.  I was doing a total spazz.

What you have to understand is that puss brains are not zombies.  I know I've said it but most people don't really understand the difference.  Zombies are the reanimated dead.  Puss brains are not dead.  They're people infected by a totally gross virus that speeds up their metabolism, makes them angry, and as a consequence of both, makes them very, very hungry all the time.  Doc used to talk about how the metabolization rate on a puss brain was off the chart.  I always wondered how Doc knew all of the stuff he did but sometimes I looked in his eyes and realized that I might not really want to know after all.  The guy had a hole ripped in his soul that was letting his humanity leak out.

So yeah, get bit by a puss brain and you're going to turn into a puss brain ... you're infected.  They don't bite to infect, they bite ‘cause they're freakin' hungry and can't seem to help themselves.  I've seen a puss brain eat another puss brain but it isn't pretty.  And for some reason puss brains will gang up on another of their kind that starts feeding like that.  They'll tear them apart but not eat them.  Doc said it was one of those mysteries that had yet to be tested to find out why.  Puss brains had a real thing against cannibalism though it makes no sense since they ate uninfected people every chance they got.

To make the explanation of why I spazzed out even longer it's that when a puss brain gets hungry they are a sloppy eater and not real careful with their "food."  A lot of people who are chomped by a puss brain don't survive to turn into a puss brain unless the infection kicks in and starts healing them up fast enough.  If you have more than one puss brain chomping on you the damage is likely to be so bad you don't survive.  Or, if you are small or young or something along those lines.  The damage is just too bad.  And that's why you hardly ever see kid type puss brains.  Teenagers yes but kids and baby puss brains no ... hardly ever.  And when you do they are usually really, really bad.  I don't know why, they just are.

So seeing that little boy was truly spazz-worthy.  The problem was the little boy wasn't alone.  In my panic I rolled off the bench just in time to avoid getting shot though that isn't why I hit the ground.  "AAAAaaack!  Jerk!  Your aim is off!  Hit the puss brain kid!  Not me!!"  I didn't know who I was screaming at, it just sort of came out.  All I know is that puss brains don't use guns.

I was busy scrambling, trying to get my stuff together, keep an eye on the kid, and avoid the nearsighted shooter.  I was almost to the corner of the building when the kid stuck a finger in his mouth.  I took two steps then stopped and looked back.  Puss brains don't suck their thumbs.  I've seen them gnaw a finger off but never suck their thumb.  I was trying to decide what to do when I turned around to find someone ready to shove the barrel of a rifle up my left nostril.  It was so close I had to be cross-eyed looking at the end of it.

Then I looked up and there was a guy who looked about Lee's age and behind him were another girl, her about my age or maybe a little younger, it was hard to tell.  "Don't move."

"Nooooo kidding," I muttered.

I wobbled and then squinched my eyes shut ready to get shot.

"What's wrong with you?"


"Have you been bit?"

"No.  Why?"

"What daya mean why?  You're covered in blood."

"I'm not covered in it," I told him looking down at myself briefly.  "I blew a tire on my skates and took a header.  I'm just a little scraped up that's all."

"Yeah right," the girl snapped.  "Don't listen to her."

"Shuttup Sammy.  She's the first person we've seen since Uncle Simon left and ..."

"Don't tell me to shut up!"

I sighed.  "Look I don't wanna get shot but I either sit down or fall down.  Not to mention I gotta sneeze and when I do I'm gonna get boogers all in your rifle barrel."

I heard snickering behind me.  I looked over just in time to see a little finger poke one of the places I'd shredded my jeans.  "You gotta boo boo."

"Ouch!"  And then finished falling down.  "Brilliant DeeDee," I muttered angrily.  "Good way to look like a complete idiot."

The girl Sammy added, "You got that right."

I sighed.  "Well, it wouldn't be the first time."  I turned my eyes up to the guy with the gun and he didn't look amused or anything else.  In fact his eyes were getting a little scary so I started talking fast in his direction.  "I'm no puss brain.  I'm really serious about wrecking on my skates.  You can even see here," I said pointing to the skate.  "One of the wheels cracked and broke.  I've got replacements.  I just needed to get someplace off the road so I could clean up and do it.  My folks and I used to come here for lemon drop milkshakes on our summer vacations.  That's all.  If it is your place I'll leave.  Just tell me if I'm going to violate someone else's turf or whatever.  I'm kinda tired and banged my head."

I'm on the ground where I'd fallen and looking up when suddenly the little kid with no boundaries body slams me and knocks the wind out of me in a great big woof.  When I can breathe again I'm trying to move out from under the little crazy body.

"Geez, what is this kid’s problem?  Do I look like a trampoline?!"  I scrambled up and backwards when the little boy looked all set to repeat himself.

The guy with the gun sighed and said, "Knock it off John-John."  When the kid gave him a smirk and acted like he was going to do it anyway the guy reached out real quick, grabbed the boy's arm, and then kinda tossed him in the direction of the girl Sammy.  "I told you to knock it off."  He looked at the girl and said, "Get your brother under control or I'll lock him in the bedroom again."

Sammy grabbed the little boy and held him to her even though it was pretty obvious he didn't want to be held.  I got a look from her that said it was all my fault but I didn't pay too much attention to it because the guy was back to pointing the gun at me again.

"Where are you from?"

"Like where was I born or where did I come from just now?"

The guy said irritably, "Keep playing stupid and see how that works for you."

"I'm not playing.  I mean I'm not stupid.  I just mean there are two pieces to the answer and I'm not sure which one your want."

"Try both Einstein."

This guy was for real.  He wasn't naturally bad but something about him told me he was ready to be bad if he had to.  He was like a guard dog.  I gave him the name of the town I'd been born but tried to give him a short explanation about the past year.

"Stop.  Are you saying you come from St. Louis?"

"Sorta kinda.  I told you ..."

"Yeah.  Say I believe you but you're saying that you've been in the city for months and just now escaped."

"Uh ..."  I said looking at him and trying to find the trap.  "Yeah."

"Are you infected?"

"No.  And ... look if I have to Sammy can look me over for bites but I'm not letting you anywhere near me."

The guy looked at me hard but something in his eyes had also changed.  It was something about saying I was from the city.  "You let Sammy look and if you're clean ... if you're clean I ... if you're clean you can fill your water bottle before going on your way."

I thought that was fair all things considered.  I had stepped into their turf uninvited after all.


  1. Thankyou so much, the white is so much easier to see!!! Have fun at your family bbq!

  2. much easier on these poor old eyes !!!! thank you !

  3. Great chapter. Looking forward to more. Thanks for sharing your stories.