By the middle of the afternoon we’ve left the freeway for a two lane highway. It will take longer to get to Colorado this way, but we’ll have more choices if anything comes up – like a group of zombies – unlike the freeway where our main choices for detours are concrete barriers and overpasses.
So I’m zooming along at a good eighty miles an hour, listening to Crystal Method and letting it speed my blood like an electric super train, and I come over a hill and realize way too late that there’s a giant hole in the middle of the road.
And no, unlike the movies we don’t happily go sailing over the hole to come out fine on the other side.
One moment there’s pavement under my tires, and the next moment Cassie and I are screaming. There’s this wonderful feeling of weightlessness, and then I’m waking up with the feeling that a bit of time has passed, and I find myself still strapped in the front seat and the car firmly on the ground.
I push the airbag away from me, noting that the back of my neck hurts, my right knee hurts, and my right forearm hurts, but other than that I seem fine. Of course, I haven’t tried getting up yet either. Slowly I turn my head to the side, and then pull the other airbag away from Cassie. There’s a cut on her forehead but I can’t see anything other than that.
“Cassie,” I say but she doesn’t move. I reach down and unbuckle myself, then reach over and shake her a bit. “Cassie.”
She wakens with a scream.
“Are you hurt?”
She looks at me confused for a bit, then blinks her eyes and shakes her head. I grab a pillow from the backseat. “Here, hold this to your head, you’re bleeding.”
She looks at me oddly, but she does it, and I adjust her placement until it’s just right. Then I try to get an idea of where we are.
About a block ahead of me is a dirt and rock face, and above that are bits of the blacktop from the highway. The crevice that we’re in is shaped like a fish, and is made of rocks, dirt and bits of concrete. I shift around to look out the back and that’s when the adrenaline starts pumping through my system, burning like acid.
“Oh fuck,” I say quietly. “Cassie, we need to get out of here now.”
Slowly, she turns in her seat to see what I’m looking at. On the far side of the crevice is an entire group of zombies huddled together, maybe like twenty. I have no idea why they’re huddled, and really I don’t want to find out.
“Are you unbuckled?”
“Crawl out my side.”
“Where are we going?” Cassie’s voice is high.
I look around. “There,” I point to the northwest, where the slope is milder. It looks like hills I’ve gone up before – challenging but doable. I think the zombies haven’t gotten out because they can’t manage the bits of gripping, holding and strategy it will take to go up that face.
“Just follow me up it – you’ll do fine,” I say when I see how big Cassie’s eyes are, but she just nods.
“Okay let’s do this,” I say and open the door.
I take off running like a crack addict, headed for the rock face. I’m halfway there when I turn my head a bit and notice that Cassie isn’t by my side. She’s still struggling to get out of the car. I stop and wave my hands at her silently, but she’s struggling with something on her foot. Should I run to her? I glance quickly at the zombies, and fortunately they still haven’t noticed that we’re there.
Suddenly she shoots free and falls on the ground with a loud thump. We both look towards the zombies, and yup, one of them is turning this way.
I run in a quick high burst to Cassie’s side, yank her up off the ground, and hold her wrist as I race us back towards the rock face.
“Delilah,” she hisses, and yanks her wrist free and drops a step behind me, just as I hear the moan.