Lily and Liam have been doing well but they’ve been getting restless cooped up in a car for this long. Add to that their stay in the washroom and these kids were crawling the walls, practically screaming to get out. Four and a half year olds are apt to play and we have no toys. Our game playing skills were being sorely tested as well. Admittedly, we were finding it difficult to keep up with them.
Once back in Canada we started to see that things were different, more normal… Well normal-ish. We avoided Vancouver even though I desperately wanted to see if my parents had somehow managed to survive by staying indoors. The chance was slim knowing my father but there was still a chance. We took the TransCanada Highway north from Choate, thinking that we would then get onto Highway 97 and continue north to Prince George. Depending on what we encountered in Prince George and what kind of plan we had decided upon, we could go either west to Prince Rupert on Highway 16 or head east. Our main objective was to get free of the Undead and to find a place where we didn’t have to always be constantly on the move.
We did find it very odd that while we did not see any of the Undead, we didn’t see any living people either. But it still felt weird. There was no evidence that the Undead had even been here, that the area we were travelling through had even been touched by the infection. No cars clogging the roads, no evidence of any fighting. It was like everyone had just simply vanished.
It’s amazing how your priorities change when you’ve got young ones to think about. It’s possible that we will still need to try to get on the water and travel to a remote town in the hopes of finding a place highly isolated and untouched by all of this. But then a town only accessible by water or air may not provide complete isolation from the Undead. And it’s also going to need to be resupplied which makes every trip into a larger area more dangerous. Is there any place besides Seattle that is still safe out there?
Lily and Liam had definitely had enough of their forced confinement and since we hadn’t passed a single Undead since leaving the U.S., we decided to throw caution to the wind and make an unscheduled stop. We chose a quiet little town called Lac la Hache on Highway 97. Old habits die hard and still being our cautious selves, we pulled over to the side of the road beside a park and waited for a long length of time, blowing the car’s horn just to see if we could entice any Undead to send us on our merry way. Not a single one showed up after 45 minutes. It was just so strange that there didn’t seem to be anyone or anything about.
We warned the twins that they would have to stay very, very close to us at all times. That even while at play there could be danger. They seemed to inherently understand this and were buzzing with nervous energy. We drove up on the lawn of the park (I dare a police officer to give me a ticket), and got out of the Escalade. We made Lily and Liam stay back with Max at the wheel while we checked out all the outbuildings and surrounding areas. We’ve learned that you never could be too careful.
Once the coast was clear, the twins burst from the car and ran to the playground equipment. Their laughter filled the air and it was the sweetest sound to hear. Their joy was infectious and the rest of us couldn’t help but laugh along with them. Soon we forgot about everything but the kids and the sounds of their laughter, the way that they would chase each other up and down the slide. The crunching sounds their shoes made on the pebbles covering the playground area as they came down the slide and turned to run around to go right back up to the top. We were suddenly like 4 proud parents all vying for the right to say “Look at my kid”… We were stupid. We should have been watching.
We had no idea they were there until they were right upon us. Thank God that Liam happened to notice the man coming up behind Bob. It was by the grace of God alone that he managed to move just as the Undead was about to lay his greasy, putrefying hands on him. And suddenly it was like we were surrounded. The car seemed like it was kilometres away, with too many of them between us and it. The really stupid thing was that none of us had opted to stay with the car, thinking we were safe. Have I mentioned the word stupid yet? Lily and Liam were screaming at the top of the jungle gym, afraid to come down. I don’t blame them one bit, I was afraid to be on the ground and I had a gun! We started to line up our shots, hoping that we had enough ammunition for all of the Undead steadily streaming towards us. One by one, they started to go down. The diminishing number was motivating; we began to believe that we could and would get through this.
I happened to turn around at one point, realizing that we could be setting ourselves up for an ambush from behind. We were all so consumed with fighting those in front of us that we had forgotten to cover our backs. There were some Undead coming at us from behind our position but they were so far back that they were not as imposing an issue as the ones in front of us. Glancing at the playground equipment to make sure that Lily and Liam were still safe, I was terrified and angry to see an old woman, her clothes hanging off her bloody and decomposing body, trying to pull itself up the slide. The twins had not yet noticed her. Their attention was fixed on the horde in front of us. A quick shot to the head dropped the corpse on the slide, her body making that unforgettable squeal as it came to rest at the bottom. Too close.
Soon, those closest to us were all dead but in the distance we could see more of them finding their way towards us. Time to get to the Escalade and get the heck out of dodge.
Lily and Liam were an entirely different kettle of fish to deal with. The stress of the Undead and the subsequent shootout had them frozen at the topmost part of the jungle gym. And by now they had noticed the crumpled form of the old woman at the base of the slide. Minimal coaxing wasn’t getting them down and we didn’t have the time to wait for them to let go of their white knuckled grip on the wooden structure. Max had pulled the SUV closer while Ben and I had gone up to bodily pass them down to Bob who was waiting to put them into the Escalade.
Lily readily dissolved into my arms and was quite easy to pass down to Bob. Once in the car, she crawled into the back and hid under one of the blankets. Liam was proving to be a bit more difficult. His fear had made him almost catatonic and as a result his grip was vice-like. Ben and I couldn’t get his poor little fingers unclenched. He was going to be in some serious pain from this but before we could worry about that we needed to get him off that structure and into the safety of the car. After what seemed like hours but was surely only seconds, we finally freed his fingers and passed him down to Bob, his body still as rigid as a board.
Ben and I were making our way back down the jungle gym when we heard Bob call out. Looking over the side at the car, we could see Bob trying to shake something off of his leg. Liam was standing on the ground staring in horror and Max was exiting the car with his gun drawn. One of the Undead had managed to survive a head shot and had crawled across the lawn and under the car where it was presently biting down on Bob’s leg. Max helped pry it off and then gave it one final bullet, its permanent second death. Bob scooped up Liam and put him awkwardly into the car. The rest of us all got in and Max drove the Escalade quickly out of Lac la Hache.
Turning to Bob, I pulled out my gun and asked him how he wanted it done. Would he rather do it himself before he became one of the Undead? Or did he want one of us to wait until after he was one of them? The choice was his. Bob just looked at me and smiled… Then he tapped his prosthetic leg and said that the Undead hadn’t gotten him just yet.
It was our laughter that filled the SUV at that moment. And relief…