Max and Ben felt that I should tell you all what happened in the Escalade the evening that Bob turned into one of the Undead. I was hesitant to share the story mainly because as the person sitting in the backseat with him, I bore the brunt of the shock, the confusion, the fear, the revulsion, and the heart pounding terror. It brought back all those same emotions I had felt on Day 1 of the outbreak; of being trapped in my home, pursued by one of the Undead, with nowhere to go…
That’s a story you’ll likely never hear though, its pain is too private. But sitting in the back of that Escalade with Max and Ben ahead of me, Liam and Lily asleep in the space behind me and a freshly Undead Bob with milky eyes fixed on me, I found I could not move. I could not speak. I could not think. I could not even breathe. It seemed like hours went by, our eyes strangely locked in each others, while I’m sure it was mere seconds though. I knew at any point that Bob would lunge for me, grab a hold of me and sink his teeth into my living flesh, infecting me. Killing me. Turning me into one of the Undead.
My biggest fear was about to come true and suddenly I was powerless to stop it. I was frozen in place and in time. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that what was once Bob was going to cause me to join the ranks of the Undead. My mind was blank, numbingly blank. Had you asked my name, I don’t think I could have told you…
Liam stirred in the back and Undead Bob broke eye contact with me. His intent changed in a heartbreaking beat. No longer was he interested in the unmoving lump of flesh before him, now he wanted the warm, soft, young flesh of little Liam. Sweet, innocent Liam. He should never have had to awoken to such a sight a few inches from his chubby face. His scream of fright broke me from my stupor and suddenly I was alive again.
Alive and fighting.
I didn’t have a firearm close at hand nor did I have a knife or anything useful really. All that I had were my bare hands. With Undead Bob trying to claw his way over the seat to get to the twins and now Max and Ben alerted to the problem and trying to help, I did the only thing I could think to do. I took my hands, placed them on either side of his head and twisted sharply. I twisted so sharply that I rung Undead Bob’s neck. The feat like it took hours. In the slow-paced action sequence of my mind, nothing moved at normal speed.
The unfortunate thing was that it didn’t kill him… I think I knew it wouldn’t, but it did slow him down. It made his arms and legs useless to him but his mouth was still a problem. His striving, gnashing, infected mouth.
In the dark of the early night and with the commotion behind him, Ben had overestimated the shoulder of the road and ended up running us into the ditch. With the bumpy ascent down the embankment, I was thrown very close to the one thing I had wanted to avoid. The supplies in the back were toppled all over the twins and you could hear them crying out in pain as cans and boxes jostled around with them. Coming to rest at the bottom, Max got out and immediately opened the door in order to dispose of what had once been Bob. He took him a short distance away and gave him one final shot to the head. Then he carried the body further away in case of scavengers or anything else that might come along.
Still in the car, I will admit that I was shaken. I could hear the twins whimpering in the back, scared and probably hurt but at that moment there was nothing that I could have done about it. I was scared and I was emotionally hurt. Max came back to the car absolutely livid, demanding to know what had happened. All I could tell him at that point was that the kids needed him. I still have no idea what Ben was doing just then.
Once he had extracted the twins from the back and made sure that they were somewhat okay, he put them in the front seat and then got in the back with me. I could tell that he wanted to know what had transpired so I quickly brought him up to speed. He was shaken by what I told him; knowing that everyone besides Ben could have been asleep when Bob had turned.
Sitting in that ditch, one man down in the pitch black of night, the graveness of our situation started to sink in. And to make matters worse, the moon broke through the clouds illuminating the landscape for us. The ditch was shallow and ended at the edge of a large unfenced field. We would certainly be able to drive out of it, but in the distance heading our way were a large collection of the Undead. Probably drawn in by the light of our headlamps. In minutes they would be all over the Escalade but in the dim light, we couldn’t see how to best navigate ourselves out of the ditch.
We decided our best option was to wait them out and hope that in the dwindling light, they wouldn’t be able to see us in the car.
Ben turned off the headlights, masking us as best as he could and drove a little further up the ditch hoping that a new position might confuse them. With the way that they moonlight was shining down and the fact that we had moved into the shadows perhaps we might have become invisible for a moment or two. Lily and Liam joined Max and I in the backseat and we explained to them that we would have to remain completely still and silent (just in case). It was going to be a harrowing night and not one that I would want to readily endure again. I was just thankful that the SUV was still working. I reached back and got blankets for everyone, knowing that with the Undead approaching we could all get chilled from the fear.
The Undead were getting closer. In the moonlight, you could make out the individuals that they used to be. One used to be a woman, you could tell by the long hair and the physique, though it was marred by a missing arm and a huge gaping hole in her midsection. Another looked like he belonged to a biker gang. Still wearing the jacket and leather chaps, the flesh on his face was drooping and looked like it was about to fall off. Each one was in a different state of decomposition, some freshly dead, some with the skin and muscle starting to fall off the bone. There were waitresses, men in business suits, a clown, some cowboys and cowgirls, a woman wearing yoga clothes, a man dressed only in a Speedo, even some children of various ages. There was even a guy dressed up like a giant taco. The collection goes on…
It didn’t take them long to find Bob’s corpse. And it also didn’t take them long to begin to fight over it. I had no idea that they would consume the flesh of each other if given the opportunity. I prayed that they wouldn’t be able to smell the stench of death on the car. Or be able to follow it right to us. Would they be able to get in? Could they overturn us? Break the windows? Anything was possible.
It didn’t take them long to find the car either. It transpired quite by accident though which was great for us. The giant taco happened to bump into us and as a result, fell over. Once he was down and then unable to get back up, the remaining Undead sensed their chance at another meal. They swarmed the giant taco, ripping apart the costume. They tore his undead flesh to shreds and devoured him next to our car. We silently prayed that the moonlight wouldn’t shift and reveal us.
Their behaviour was very odd to us. It was the first time that we have seen them consume the flesh of one of their own. We could almost understand them eating a dead Undead. But eating an animate one just seemed so uncharacteristic. In truth, what was characteristic about them aside from the fact that they attack the living if given a chance and assimilate them through contamination? These encounters would stay with us for a long while I’m sure; each of us trying to figure out a way to use our observations to come up with way to defeat them.
Luckily for us, two meals in one night seemed to satisfy the Undead and after finishing the giant taco they moved on. In the light of day it was easy to manoeuvre out of the shallow ditch and get back on the road. The road towards Waskaganish and freedom from the Undead.