Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fighting in Flip Flops

Trudging forward, I notice the smell of burning gets stronger. It’s hard to see the smoke. It’s a cloudy night, but I’m sure it’s there. I just wish I knew which direction it was coming from. I’m only about a half a mile from home now, and Finn is finally sleeping quietly, tied to my chest in the Mei Tai. Thank God for small favors. There’s not much you can do to soothe a crying baby while fighting a zombie or running for your life. And his cries only call more of them.

When the van broke down, I cried for about 10 minutes before I could get a hold of myself. I was so adrenalized I couldn’t feel my body anymore. Everything seemed to tingle, and shake, and it was hard to catch my breath. I’m not sure if it was adrenaline, or panic. Maybe a little of both.

There were Zombies in the McDonalds. They couldn’t figure out how to get out, but they were in there, and they were not few. I finally decided that I couldn’t wait out the McZombies in my van. It was too far for me to go get gas, so I needed to walk home. I really didn’t want to leave my vehicle, but I didn’t have much choice. Sooner or later they would find me, and I don’t know how long I could hold out. You can’t exactly fortify a minivan.

I was so scared I threw up a couple of times while I was searching my vehicle for a suitable weapon. No such luck. I had my long ice scraper, and some bug spray. Not exactly ideal weapons for undead hand to hand combat. I just kept telling myself that I didn’t need to be stronger, I needed to be smarter and faster. I ditched the diaper bag and car seat, they were too bulky and rendered one arm useless. I still can’t believe I’m still alive, and I managed to protect Finn. Though I think he may be scarred for life, as little as he is. I hope he’s too small for that kind of damage.

I’m almost home, and am successfully evading zombies by climbing fences and skulking behind bushes and trees and the such. Tom will take care of us soon. He will have a plan. And he’d better have a really good fucking reason why he isn’t answering my calls. I will not even consider that he is hurt. He is strong, young, and determined. Above all, he is smart. If I’ve made it this far, I’m sure he has too. I’m wearing flimsy little $1 flip flops and a skirt- oh, and a 17 pound baby. Unencumbered, I’m sure he’s at home waiting to let us in, and ready with rations and a plan to survive.

I managed to run past the McZombies ok, but Finn started crying and more and more zombies started appearing from the businesses along the road. It soon became clear the main path was not the way to go. Outside the roller rink (I couldn’t fucking believe this) I had to fight a roller zombie. Roller blades on the undead are NOT helpful. Though they lack the agility to maneuver correctly, they can get moving pretty quickly downhill as long as they remain upright. When I saw him coming, I did a modified safe drop (to protect Finnegan) and did a side posture kick at his knee. I was hoping for a broken knee cap, but that didn’t happen. Though the heel is the strongest bone in the human body, it’s less effective when your target is on wheels. I did, however, knock him down, and I used my ice scraper to obliterate his eyes. Roller skates or not, if you can’t see me, I can get away.

So, after jetting past the roller zombie I came to the Richton Park police station. I hoped to break into a car, or steal a gun or something. But I don’t know how to break into or hotwire a car. I’ve only been trained on strategy by the movies. Where is my scrappy delinquent, or unlikely but funny black man to show me ghetto fabulous survival techniques? Anyway, I saw a few police zombies, but I thought it would be best to avoid them. They looked strong, and since I don't know how to fire a gun, I wasn’t sure it was worth the risk of acquiring one.

Since the streets were rather dense with the dead, I decided it was best to cut through residential areas. Old Plank Trail runs from just behind my house all the way to Joliet, and I hoped that would be a safe means to get home. There would be fewer brains in the forest preserve, and hopefully fewer zombies. I was hoping the laws of supply and demand were still in effect, since logic and reason seemed to be out of commission.

I was bleeding a lot along the side of my leg and hip from dropping and swivelling on the blacktop, and I was sure to have a beautifully bruised hip. My feet were bleeding too, from all the underbrush and rocks I was walking through. They didn’t seem to be able to smell me, which was a relief. I only encountered one other zombie on my way to the trail, and I was able to break her knee, use the bug spray in her eyes and run away. It was really hard not to scream as I fought her, because I was conditioned to scream and yell and make noise to help me find my strength in self defense class—and to attract attention. But right now, attention was the LAST thing I wanted. I threw up after the fight again. I was absolutely sick with nerves-- and it was hell to keep Finn quiet after each of these encounters. I gave him some Motrin before getting out of the van because that tends to make him drowsy, and I’m sure that is the only reason he’s not wailing right now.

After that last attack, something new inside me seemed to wake up. Though I was still pulsing with adrenaline, something more primal was beginning to emerge. It got easier to walk in these shitty flip flops, I grew more stealthy while walking in the woods, and all of my senses seemed to be on high alert—without all the puking. I could see zombies meandering about, and had it together enough to freeze and remain quiet until they passed, or to circumvent them entirely. I felt like a hunter, and I wasn’t so panicked anymore. I’m sure this is what helped me get this far.

I looked at my watch—a habit that seems ridiculous and out of place now, to see how long it had been since I last spoke to Tom. It’s approaching 11. We last spoke about 8:30, I think. That seems like days ago. I’m almost home, and I know he’s worried. I can’t wait to change my clothes, and get into some decent shoes. Eating and showering are on my list, too, but I don’t know how safe either of those things will be just yet, so my hopes aren’t too high. Bed sounds like a dream, and I know Finn is in serious need of a new diaper and some clean clothes.

As I round the bend of a side street only a few blocks from home I begin to realize the neighborhood is absolutely infested with Zombies. I recognized several of my neighbors milling about looking for lunch, and grew concerned that we wouldn’t be able to stay home long. It looks like the power is out, too. So much for waiting this out at home. I don’t know how we will transport the baby safely in the truck, and where the fuck do we have to go? I start to think about my mom and brother and sister, but I stop myself. Let’s just get through one obstacle at a time.

The crackling of the fire becomes clear, and the smell of the smoke becomes stronger. There are no fire engines, and this fire has clearly been at it a while. Looks like law enforcement as we know it is also out of commission. I have to get home and call my family asap, before the cell phone lines go down, too. For all I know, they already have. Though my phone is on me, it’s turned off so I don’t alert anyone unsavory to my presence.

I am dodging zombies left and right through the bushes, and praying that Finn stays asleep long enough for me to get us to safety, and to Tom. I am amazed at how easy it is to stay hidden. I know zombies aren’t bright, but I’m not exactly trained in guerilla tactics either. As long as I don’t make any noise, I should be home in minutes. I will have serious problems, though, if I do reveal myself. There are dozens of them, and unless I can climb up the side of a house in these flip flops with a baby strapped to my belly, I’ll be toast.

Walking through my neighbors yard, I gasp, and I break out into a run. My house is on fire. Where is my husband? I run out in the open, temporarily surged with panic and grief, praying to a God I don’t believe in, begging for my husband to still be alive. By the time I realize I’ve jeopardized my position, it’s too late to hide myself. The zombies see me, and the moaning begins. I see Jennie, my crotchety old neighbor who walks the streets and tells you if your lawn is too long, and my heart sinks.

As I reach the house, I am yelling for Tom without even realizing it. I sob and I scream for him, as if the volume of my calls will bring him to me sooner. As the neighborhood beings to shamble in my direction, and the moaning begins to drown out my cries, my garage door flies open and Tom screams for me to get inside. He’s holding a shovel and a lantern and is very angry at me for making so much noise. I’ve never been more delighted to be in trouble in all my life. The baby is screaming as I duck under the slamming garage door, and tears run copiously down our faces as we hold each other in the most powerful embrace of our lives. Even if we die, we’re doing it as a family.

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