Now normally I don’t swear, but HOLY F&CK! Things probably could not have gone more wrong if we had actually sat down and planned for them to go that way.
The plan was for us to get to the Savannah City Bus that was about 100 feet from the small grocery store that we were holed up in. We could clearly see the two-tone green bus from the front windows and it appeared to be clean. The doors were open and there was no tell-tale blood on the outside or even on the inside of the windows that we could see. Of course, it all could be so deceiving but it was our absolute best option.
Julie thought that she could get the bus started. All we needed was some time for her to be able to get to the battery in the back of the bus in case the bus wouldn’t start. We all knew that it wouldn’t start when she pressed the ignition button but we were going to try anyway. It had been a significant amount of time since any of the vehicles had been started and there had been a good chance that the bus had been left on when all of the sh*t hit the proverbial fan. In times of stress, no one really stopped to make sure that they paid attention to safety. It was an “every man for himself” type of an attitude that befell most. Some would have stayed to help but they probably would have died as a result. Survival tended to reward those that were willing to sacrifice the many for the one.
We had decided that we would head for the bus the day after Polly’s baby was born. There’s just something that seems safer about being on the road. It might be a false sense of security but when we were first on the run from the Undead, I know that Ben, Julie, Bob, and I all felt safer in that Escalade moving toward whatever we were moving toward at the time.
After the woman had run screaming down the road, the Undead had cleared from the front of the store. We couldn’t hear them and we couldn’t seem them. It was eerily quiet but it might have just been the nerves that we were feeling. Going out into that street was the last thing that any of us really wanted to do, no matter how much of a necessity it was quickly becoming. We had hardly any ammunition and even less in the way of firearms to propel them from. It was going to be a dangerous endeavour but one that we had to undertake.
We left just after first light. No time like the present as they say. Out in the open air, we felt a real nakedness. We could always go back of course but that would mean leading the Undead directly to our hiding spot. Our main objective in getting to the bus was to get out of here but we also needed to see if we could find the twins. It was important that we exhaust any and all effort that we could to find them. They had survived where many an adult would have crumbled and we owed them that much. Besides, they were a part of our family now and while you sometimes had to let your family go when faced with an army of the Undead, we were still going to try to find them. It was just something that we had to do.
We moved quickly to the bus, our eyes searching out in every direction. It appeared as if we were alone. We got to the bus and boarded it quickly still on the lookout for any of them that might be staggering around. The coast was still clear. Julie tried the ignition switch and surprise, surprise it didn’t engage. The battery was dead. It wouldn’t have mattered really because it was what we had expected. We exited the bus as a group, opting to stay together for safety.
The back panel of the bus opened easily and Julie was able to affix her special rigged system to the battery. It would take time for the battery to charge at that point so we closed the panel and were about to get back on the bus. It was that moment that the Undead decided to ambush us.
That’s right, I said AMBUSH us! They moved collectively, swarming from all around the bus and coming at us in a way that we had never seen them move before. We barely had enough time to get ourselves back onto the bus before they were literally on top of us. With the electrical systems of the bus compromised it was certainly a fight to even keep the doors of the bus closed against the press of rotting, putrid bodies.
All of our hearts and stomachs had to have been in our throats waiting for the battery to charge. We didn’t even know how long it was going to take and if one of them had gotten in, it would have been game over for us. It was a tender balancing act; the doors could open both inward and outward. Too much pressure either way and we were toast.
Timing when to try the ignition switch was tricky too. If you tried it too soon, you ran the risk of draining what the battery had managed to charge and then having to start the waiting game all over again. But do you err on the side of caution with hungry undead mouths just on the opposite side of the glass? The answer to that question is YES!
Tense, tense moments passed. Moments where we thought that the Undead were surely going to overpower our attempts to keep the doors closed. Moments where you literally thought you were going to go insane from the stress. Moments where you laughed from the sheer absurdity of the situation that you were in. Moments where you wept uncontrollably because you believed you were going to die in the next few minutes and then become the one thing you had fought so long and so hard against becoming.
And then the glorious sound of the engine filled our ears as it roared to life. Julie had taken the chance and tried the battery. She engaged the locks on the doors and gave all of us a bit of a rest. Now it was just a matter of getting out of here.
We had discussed this possibility with those left in the store and they knew that we would have to drive away, leading any and all Undead away before being able to come back. Julie put the bus into the lowest gear and started to move forward, taking out anything and everything in her way.
It was a bumpy ride but one that each of us secretly enjoyed. Like a carnival ride at a local amusement park. Pretty soon the Undead figured out what was going on and got out of the way. It was completely unlike anything that we had witnessed before. They were meant to be mindless, searching us out only to satisfy an insatiable hunger. This mindful behaviour was disconcerting.
We continued to go forward, thinking that they would follow us, but they did not. It was like they knew what we were trying to do. Were they willing to give us a free pass at escape as long as we left our comrades to face death at their hands and mouths? If we had anything to say about it, it certainly was not going to go down like that. We’d find a way to get them out.
We aimed the bus towards the neighbourhood that we had ridden out the hurricane in. Perhaps we could get back into the houses and recover our ammunition. The size of the horde we had just faced was not that large and with enough ammunition, we’d be able to take them out, no problem. Besides, given their current behaviour they deserved to die a final second death. There was no question about that. Smart and undead was a lethal combination.
The neighbourhood was empty but we weren’t going to take any chances, Julie pulled up and only a few of us got out to get as much out the houses as possible. In the third house that we entered, we encountered an amazing surprise. Lt. Lafferty was there with both Lily and Liam, hoping that we would come back and look for them there.
They had narrowly escaped the hordes of the Undead that day after the hurricane but had managed to sneak back into one of the houses unnoticed as everyone else ran in the opposite direction. It was great to see the twins. And Lt. Lafferty. Thank God she had been there to snatch them up and get them to safety. Otherwise, things might not have had such a happy ending.
Getting back to the bus, we filled Lafferty in on what had happened with the Undead by the store. She was quite surprised by the hive-like behaviour. None of us had any idea of how we were going to get back to the store and lead the Undead away, especially if they had other plans.
More pressing matters interrupted us at that moment though. The bus was nearly on empty and we had to figure out where to find some fuel or else the bus was going to be useless.
We drove further away from the store looking for a set of pumps. We didn’t have to drive too far. That was the lucky thing about competing companies. In order to remain competitive you could find a gas station on literally ever corner. Filling up was pretty easy too. The diesel pump worked on reverse pressure, they were older models and didn’t require electricity. Soon we were full and off again.
We decided to drive past the store and see what was going on. Maybe we could draw the Undead away this time if we moved in a different direction and made some more noise.
The scene at the store was eerie. The Undead were gone but that was not the eerie part because you could tell that they were watching. They were waiting to ambush us again. We stopped the bus in front of the store and waited. Nothing. We opened the doors to the bus. Nothing. A few of us got off. And the Undead rushed us again. They were toying with us.
The group in the store knew the score at this point. We were going to have to figure something else out…
It took us two days to orchestrate a final plan. After many different attempts at drawing them away we learned that they were only watching the front of the store to ambush. After learning that simple and stunningly awesome fact, our next pass brought us to the rear of the store. We loaded the rest of our group onto the bus and circled around to the front. We stopped and a few of us got out. Once the Undead came out to ambush us, we got back on the bus.
You could see the realization of their mistake dawn on their Undead faces. In a collective wail of distress, they all rushed the bus but it was too late. We were leaving, safe and sound and much too quickly for them to follow us.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have shown them their mistake but there was that moment that we just wanted to goad them. If they’re developing a level of consciousness, however basic and rudimentary, it scares us to the core. We need to figure out how to stay another step ahead of them.