If anyone had told me that something or someone would scare me more than the Undead, I would have laughed at them. But that was before Minden, Nevada. That town has taken the top of the list when it comes to the scariest places in the world and right now that is saying a whole heck of a lot. I’ve been inside the catacombs that snake under Paris and even that experience pales to the terror of every moment spent inside the four claustrophobic walls of the Farmer’s Bank of Carson Valley on Esmeralda Street.
The people of Minden just don’t seem to get what we are up against. Either that or the Traumatic Distress Disorder has turned their brains into mush. Every hour or so, like clockwork, one of the townsfolk would get the overwhelming urge to leave. We couldn’t leave them alone even for a moment because to do so could have meant death for all of us. My nerves are more frazzled in here than they ever were on the road. You can’t even look into their eyes because you can see how close to the edge they are. They’re all on the verge of throwing up their hands and giving into the Undead. Even the children. They are the closest ones of all; they look so vacant, so soulless that you begin to wonder if you haven’t stumbled into an incubating nest of the Undead. We have got to get ourselves out of here. Saving these people isn’t even an option. They had obviously already given up before we even got here and prolonging our stay would have only put us into more danger.
We quietly separated ourselves from the main group which wasn’t difficult and went over by the front door to talk. Figuring out a plan was the easy part; get the heck away from Minden and fast. Logistically, the plan was a little harder to work out. Max had spotted a few cars along Esmeralda Street in the opposite direction from the way that we had come into town. He thought they looked sound enough to drive and since they were parked on the street as if someone had left them to go about their normal day, it indicated that their tanks probably had fuel in them. It was decided; we would leave and head for the cars. Now, it was just finding the right time to leave and to come up with what to tell the townspeople of Minden where we were going. Easy, right? Dead wrong.
Upon hearing that we would be leaving the bank, suddenly everyone wanted to come with us. We hadn’t even gotten to tell them the convenient lie that we were coming back… I think a part of us had figured we would be able to slip away as easily as we had come into their lives; through an unlocked door. That was not going to be the case. The people of Minden were outraged that we would even dream of going outside, especially all of us at the same time. Part of me believes that they knew we wouldn’t have come back but could they have blamed us? How many times can one person watch the same 12 thirty minute episodes of Fraggle Rock over and over again? The TV never shut off for the entire 47 hours we were in the bank. What would these people do if the power to the town went out? Would they go crazy?
The hullabaloo of their outrage brought another problem right to our doorstep. The Undead had finally found us.
While I’m not sure why the Undead can hear but can’t smell, the issue seemed pointless at that moment. The bank was quickly surrounded. There must have been a fairly large group stumbling around nearby within earshot. The sound of their hands and faces hitting the reinforced glass of the bank was unsettling to say the least. The constant dull thumping becoming an almost deafening racket in the matter of a few moments.
It was purely psychological but the stress of fear can play strange games with you. The feeling of being trapped just washes over you and within an instant you think everything you’ve fought for all this time is over. Every sacrifice you’ve made, every loved one you’ve left behind is all for nothing because their memory will never live on in you.
Before any of us really knew what was happening, a young girl of about 11 years old had run to the door and unlocked it. Opening the door, she called out for her mother, apparently one of the survivors that had left and never returned, only to be pushed back and overcome by the throng of the Undead trying to get inside. With no time to think, and no time to do anything but react, we ran to the stairwell. Looking back, I saw no one from the town of Minden following us. They just sat down and awaited the fate that they had probably anticipated since gathering in the bank.
In the stairwell, we secured the door as best we could, hoping that the full room of compliant food would keep the Undead busy for the necessary moments needed to escape. The choice between the basement and the second floor/roof was an easy one. While the roof didn’t have a fire escape (being a bank etc), the basement didn’t have any windows. At least the roof offered us a chance to make it outside again. And in the end, I’d rather jump off a roof to my death than to become one of them.
The room beyond the locked stairwell door was eerily silent, no screams, no sounds of fighting or even the sound of a struggle. Just the dull sounds of the Undead; shuffling, poppysmic, and muffled banging. The survivors of Minden were officially being assimilated.
Max started up the stairs as quickly and as quietly as possible, no need to let the Undead know where we were, stating that he had a plan. Once on the roof, he showed us that the ladder for the lookout tower was loose; something he had noticed while climbing it the other day. He figured that if we could get it off the tower that we could then use it to climb down to the ground. I could have kissed Max right then: he had just saved all of our lives.
Getting the ladder off of the tower was a little harder than Max had thought. One of the bolts was completely rusted and wasn’t going to budge. It was going to require some special attention to loosen. Getting an idea, I asked Bob and Ben to hold the ladder as I climbed it. Getting up to the offending bolt, I took out my husband’s service revolver and put the barrel up against it. The kickback nearly pushed me off but the pain in my hand was worth the potential freedom. The ladder was free and once I had climbed down, the boys put it over the side at the back of the bank. Thankfully, all of the Undead seemed to have gotten the invitation to the party inside.
Once down on the ground, we avoided Esmeralda Street and the front of the bank, opting instead to head up 5th Street. Hopefully we’d find a car before the Undead found us.
Luck, it seemed, was finally on our side. Thank God! We found an abandoned Ford Escalade with the keys still in the ignition and a full tank of gas in a driveway. Piling in, we silently hoped that no one was actually coming back for this car but knowing that if they hadn’t left Minden yet, chances are it wasn’t going to happen.
I’ve never been so happy to see the city limits of a town. On the sign leaving town it says: Nice to meet. Sorry to part. Nice to meet again! Sorry Minden but we will never be back. Ever.