Thursday, July 24, 2014

DISTANCE by Gareth Wood


DISTANCE

Gareth Wood



I

The van shuddered to a halt, gasping its last on the baking asphalt. She stared at the road, the winding black pavement that loomed ahead.

Resigned, wishing for one more cup, one more drop of fuel, she gathered her things.

"No going back," she said to herself. 

Only the dead lay behind her.


 II

After the van, miles to walk. She came down from foothills onto prairie, each foot clad in a different shoe.

Autumn trees bled red and yellow as the sun crept into dusk.

An empty service station, island burned, rusting cars like driftwood, lay to her right. 

It was shelter; but in the ruins, the undead.


III 

Axe in hand, pistol holstered, breathing deep to steady herself. Creeping between rusting cars.

Two of the undead standing where the pump island had burned. Now behind them, she rose up, axe raised.

"Hello, sunshine," she said.

The dead man turned, with funeral grin and feral eyes, to meet the crashing blade of the axe.


IV

Shaking off the corpse, she rushed to meet the other. Axe raised high, she swung with aching shoulders, struck the jaw of the dead woman.

Teeth and rotted flesh burst to the side, spraying the earth.Bony hands reached forward, clutching in desperate need and unending hunger.

The axe crashed down, shattering skull and brain.


V

Shelter.
Rest.

An end to travel, if only for a night. The station was empty of food, but the office locked. No windows.

Unnoticed, a small scratch brought infection. Asleep in the night, fever raged. 

She woke in the dark, shaking and cold, burning and weak. 

Knew what the fever meant. Knew she was doomed.


VI

"I'm still here..."

There was no one to hear, but her fever was gone. Weak as a kitten, stinking of sweat and sickness. The scratch was tender, red, but healing.

One more day. 

One day to rest, sleep, then on the road again.

More highways to walk, to put distance between herself and the dead.


These stories were originally published on the Zombie Authors Blog, May 2013


Gareth Wood is the author of the zombie novels Rise and Age of the Dead

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