by Tim Morgan
Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (December 26, 2012)
File Size: 488 KB
Print Length: 232 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Meghan is a senior in high school. For her senior summer, she’s planned the journey of a lifetime with her two friends: they will take a cross-country bicycle trip from their small Massachusetts hometown to Seattle, Washington.
Joining Meghan on the trip are Dave, who secretly has a crush on Meghan; and Chris, who has recently been diagnosed HIV positive as the result of a bad decision.
As they plan their journey, a previously unidentified flu breaks out in India, beginning a relentless march around the globe. By the time Meghan and her friends are halfway across the country, the horrible truth is known: this is not a flu virus. This disease turns its victims into flesh-eating zombies. And it’s here.
Scared, exhausted and alone, the three decide to head home in a desperate race through infected territory. Can they survive THE TRIP?
Every once in a while we come across an open house. If we’re lucky the electricity is still on and the water is still running, so we’ve been able to keep our Camelbaks full. Sometimes there’s food in the fridge and the stove works. We’re careful to lock all the doors and keep the lights off at night. We don’t like sleeping outside unless we really have to.
We’ve spent the last couple days resting in a house. It’s a little thing, a trailer really, but we can all sleep at night and it’s got a working toilet. According to the map and the GPS, we’re a couple miles from Goodhue. I’m scared. When the wind changes there’s this smell – this really horrible smell. You know in the summer, when the stink from the sewer plant just kind of lingers like a really bad fart? It’s kind of like that, but worse. A lot worse.
We’ve looked all over the map – I think we should go around. I think it’s stupid for us to go there, even if it adds another week onto the trip home we should go around it. Chris disagrees. He says the easiest way through is the direct route, that the highways are jammed with abandoned cars and that by the time we get to the other side we’ll be too tired to ride any further. Dave agreed with me, but we settled things the same way we’ve been doing it since we started this trip. We put our reflectors in a helmet, shake it up and pull one out. Whoever has their name drawn gets to decide what we do. Chris won.
I want to believe he’s right, that we could cut a couple of days off the trip if we just suck it up and ride like hell. I hope that stink is the dump or the sewers or something perfectly normal, that those things that used to be human aren’t out there waiting for us. I pray this is just a bad dream and I’m going to wake up from it and you’ll be there, telling me everything is OK and wiping my tears away. But I know none of that is true, and I’m scared.
I hate to leave my blog like this, but I’m low on battery power and the sun hasn’t been cooperating. I’ll write more when we get to the other side. I have to go.
Meghan closed her laptop. She wiped the sweat from her forehead and blinked back tears as she rolled up her solar panel. Dave was in the kitchen filling the water packs. Chris kept watch from the picture window.
“I don’t see any of them,” Chris whispered. “We can make it to the bikes.” Meghan crawled up to the window and poked her head over the edge. The bikes stood against the only tree in the yard less than thirty feet away. Last night they may as well have been on Mars. Why didn’t they park closer to the house?
A group of zombies had wandered through the yard during the night. Twelve, maybe 15 of them. Meghan couldn’t tell in the dark, and didn’t dare turn the lights on lest they draw their attention. Instead the three of them had huddled on the floor, Meghan holding Dave’s head to her chest and rocking him as she prayed the moaning flock would just go away. Chris slept lightly on the outside, a large kitchen knife in his hand.
Dave crawled to the window, water packs in one hand and a crowbar in the other. He handed out the water packs. He and Chris tried not to look at one another.
“What’s with the knife?” Meghan asked.
“If they get close we can stab them with this,” Chris said.
Dave looked at the knife and shook his head. “What I wouldn’t give for a gun,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to go through Goodhue,” Meghan said. “That smell – it must be swarming with those things.”
“The soldiers said there’s an outpost near Rochester. We can rest up and restock there. Going around means we cut through Wisconsin. There are no outposts there and we’ll run out of food,” Chris insisted as he pulled on his Camelbak. “We drew from the helmet, and my reflector came up. Whoever gets picked makes the decision, and we all go along with it. That’s the deal.”
Dave nodded slowly. “That’s the deal.” Dave put his backpack on, then helped Meghan get hers ready.
“Those things should be long gone,” Chris said. He slowly stood up. Meghan and Dave followed his lead. Chris threw the deadbolt, then slowly opened the door. He looked both ways, then stepped out onto the front step. He waved Meghan and Dave out.
Picking reflectors was supposed to be how we chose where we slept or what we had for dinner, thought Meghan, not how you would get all of us killed. Meghan stepped out, her eyes scanning the area through her blowing hair. Dave was right behind her. They took one step, then another, when Chris froze.
A sub-human groan filled the air, followed by another. And another. And another. By that point nobody was paying attention – they were all booking it toward the bikes.
“Go! Go! Go!” Chris shouted.
Dave’s hand grabbed the back of Meghan’s collar and half dragged her to the bikes. They scrambled to get their gear tied down. Meghan looked up as she strapped the laptop down with a shock chord. A mob of zombies was tearing down the road toward them, rotting arms outstretched.
“Meghan! Get on the bike!” Dave shouted. She was halfway on and throwing up the kickstand before he could finish the sentence. Dave was right beside her, Chris in front.
“Follow me – we’ll ride through them!” Chris shouted. “Single file!”
Chris took the lead, Meghan was second, Dave brought up the rear. Meghan’s legs burned as she pumped the pedals with everything she had. They were closing on the zombies fast – faster than Meghan expected.
The last hundred feet went in slow motion. Meghan saw Chris dart between two of the zombies. She set her eyes on that spot and followed. Rotting hands reached for her, the moans faded quickly behind her but the stench hung in her nose. Chris darted here and there, riding faster than Meghan had ever seen him ride before. She caught a glance of Dave out of the corner of her eye, slightly ahead and to her left. She kept her eyes ahead, slaloming through the mass of groaning zombies in a hellish downhill race. She lost track of Chris as she zigged and zagged and she didn’t know whether Chris made it but really didn’t care as long as she got through this horrible mess. Oh why-the-hell-did-I-do-this?
Meghan’s pulse pounded in her temples, the sickening stench of rotting flesh hanging over the zombies in a horrible cloud. One of the zombies took a step toward her, right into her path. Meghan tucked in and swerved hard, barely missing the zombie and almost smashing into Dave. A second later – Meghan didn’t think she’d even blinked – they broke free into open road. Chris was only a bike length, maybe two, ahead of them. The three kept pedaling for all they were worth. They crested a hill and lost sight of the zombies.
“We made it,” Chris said, his voice trembling. “Holy shit, we made it! Meghan, we made it!”
“We’ve gone two blocks!” Dave shouted. “No matter what happens, keep moving and for God’s sake, be careful!”
Meghan took a sip of water, desperate to quench the burning in her throat, drown the fire in her lungs, stem the tears rolling down her face. She was caught in the turmoil between a fear greater than any she’d ever known and feeling more alive than she’d ever thought possible.
About the author
Tim Morgan is a New Hampshire based writer. By day he earns a living as a senior web developer. When he’s not writing, Tim enjoys photography and filmmaking, as well as spending time with his wife, two daughters, and dog.