Being back on the road feels as wonderful as anything can feel in this messed up world we’re living in. We’ve left the chilling memories of Minden long behind us and have made good time travelling through California. We reached the coastal highway just south of Eureka in the middle of the morning and we were surprised by what we saw. The number of boats and ships and yachts dotting the sea was stunning. In the days after the outbreak, survivors must have gone out only so far and then anchored off shore in the rolling waves. The scary thing was that hundreds upon thousands of the Undead had been drawn by their escapes, potentially by the noise of an engine and now they were lined up along the beaches waiting out their prey. Not good for us. Not good at all.
The noise of our engine had attracted some of the closer ones. They turned as if in unison to stare milky eyed in our direction. I never thought I would see the day when the Undead had a look of genuine surprise about them, but in that moment they looked startled to see us. On the other hand, we were utterly stricken with horror to see them. This was a moment of truth for us… Continuing meant trying to outrun these Undead before they got to the road. Turning around meant making our way back through all of the Undead that we had collected along the way plus having this lot behind us. Proceeding forward won out but only by a small margin. Each of us knew that this could very well be our last stand.
Ben accelerated and shot up the road, thankful that this portion was clear of the debris of other vehicles. We managed to get a fairly good head start on the Undead but when we started to see corpses enter the roadway ahead of us, we wondered if they had some sort of telepathic power. Could they communicate with each other? The thought was sobering and truly scary. Forward we moved, alternating between hitting and missing bodies as we went. Our only thought at this point was survival and getting ourselves far, far way from all of these Undead. Eureka was going to be cutting it too close. We were going to have to aim for Crescent City now if we wanted a good chance of getting off of land.
The drive up the coast was harrowing. Numerous times I thought it was over and that we were done for. There were just too many of them and there didn’t seem to be any way to get around but to go through them. Sometimes they were so close that their bodies rocked the Escalade. Other times, we used them as speed bumps. Keeping it together was paramount and extremely difficult. Poor Ben had gotten the short end of the stick driving that day; he can drive but in our old lives he mostly commuted on his bicycle. This kind of driving, while new to all of us, was certainly the hardest on Ben. He handled it well though. We got through them and slightly ahead of them just in time to make it into Eureka to catch the show.
The city was on fire. Completely engulfed. I’ve never seen anything like it in all of my years. The conclusion we came to was that someone had tried to set a few of the Undead on fire and it had gotten out of hand just like it had it Philadelphia. We had to chance driving through the inferno. There was no way around it, no way to get us back to the road to Crescent City except to go back the way we came. Our only hope was that we didn’t end up roasting in the Escalade. Perhaps we’d be lucky enough to roast a few of our followers in the process.
Ben took the chance to relinquish the wheel to Bob, who happened to have a little practice in driving through burning landscapes while in Afghanistan and off we went. Immediately the temperature in the SUV shot up a few degrees. Potentially this could end up badly but we had to try at least to get through it. Better to die in a fire than to become one of the Undead.
With Ben back on his maps, he managed to find a way through town without having to go through the bulk of town. We headed up the California State Highway 101 to Harris Street, making a right. The town didn’t appear to be as fully engulfed in fire as we had originally thought once we got farther away from the 101 but we did encounter a slightly different problem…
Seven men with military issue flame throwers were standing in the street ahead of us. Could they be finally be the response that is so badly needed?
When one man opened his flame thrower and sprayed fire over the hood of the Escalade we had our answer. No f@&king way! Bob threw the SUV into reverse and gunned it. Once he had felt he’d put enough distance between us and the pirates, he spun the car around, slammed it into drive and off we went.
We turned right onto Spring Street heading back into the fire zone, hoping that the men wouldn’t be crazy enough to follow us. We took a chance and turned right onto Henderson. It was technically a one way street but given the fact that most of the people in the continental US were now undead, we didn’t think anyone would mind all too much. We hoped that we would be able to get around the men and the only way to do that was to drive faster than they could run, or to drive through the burning city. We were going to try to outrun them first.
The pirates were smart, I’ll give them that. Instead of staying together, they split up and tried to box us in. It probably would have worked except for the fact that they had no idea who they were dealing with. As we came up on C Street, one of the men was waiting for us. Just standing in the middle of the road. He probably thought we’d stop like last time… A word of advice, don’t play chicken during an Apocalypse. Chances are, you’ll get dead. One down, six idiots still in play.
A second outlaw came running into the intersection at William Street. When he saw us he started throwing out fire, still running forward. Now I realize that there may not have been a course on how to use these weapons properly but at some point common sense had to prevail. The only thing this dimwit succeeding in doing was running into his own flame and setting himself on fire. Two down, five left.
After that our exodus from town was uneventful. In fact it was almost too easy… We took Henderson to S Street and then back down to Harris Street. Once on Harris we took it to the end and turned right onto Myrtle Avenue. The gentlemen, and I use the term loosely, had not been this far over and nothing was burning. The drive was actually quite pleasant through town (considering what we had just been through) but you never get rid of that feeling that something is following you…