Monday, October 7, 2013

chapters 2 and 3

this is easy to write.  ideas just keep moving it along, and I had a few hours to type today.  keep in mind, this is still a very rough first draft.  A and B are now named Clarke and Louis, respectively.

Chapter 2

This was not part of the plan. Go to college, get a kick ass job, and life is great. Nuclear bombs weren't part of the American dream they'd been eating. They got back in the car, thankful for sunglasses but still with blind spots from seeing one dozen suns. They turned off the music; it wasn't helping.
“Do we have anything stronger than Coke?” Clarke asked, leaning his head on the steering wheel. “No,” Louis replied soberly, “The breathalyzer, remember?” The university had helped come up with most of the funding for their solar-powered alterations, and as a requirement of doing so demanded a breathalyzer be installed. If breath had too high BAC, the engine would turn off, or just not start.
“Damn,” Clarke said, “Just... damn.” He turned the car back on, turned around, and sped back the way they had come. Their families, their friends, their professors... everyone and everything they knew was in Salt Lake City. They had to know what happened there.
Once they got back on the interstate, things slogged considerably. Cars were packed on both sides, fleeing the city, or seeking the city, everyone was looking for something. Safety. Loved ones. Answers.
It was a quiet, slow journey. Clarke and Louis were both wracked with tumultuous thoughts and fears. As they approached Salt Lake City, the air became heavier with smoke. The general direction of the city burned a dark orange with thick black clouds. Ashes started to rain on the the windshield. Clarke turned on the wipers to see better, but he knew this would ruin his air filter. Clarke sighed, “Loius, I'm sorry but I have to turn off the air. These ashes will plug up the air intake. I don't know if this stuff is radioactive, so we should keep the windows shut too. It's going to get hot in here.”
With a grave expression, Louis reached to the pilfered Geiger counter and pulled the tigger. It chirped immediately. Louis frowned. “What's it read?” Clarke asked, worried. “100 microsieverts,” B replied, consulting the chart that came with it, “The same dose as a chest x-ray, except this is continuous.”
Clarke pulled on to the shoulder, dazed, “Well... what do we do? We're still miles away from downtown. Everyone we know is further in...”
“We have to turn around.” It was hard to see Louis acting so seriously. He was usually goofy, “Salt Lake was obviously hit. Anyone at the center is gone, and anyone much closer than we are is going to be seriously irradiated.” They both knew they had to abandon the people and places they loved. To do otherwise was suicide, but it was still a heavy decision. They would never get a chance to say goodbye.
In a grim mood, Clarke got onto the opposite lane, and started heading away. “We passed a Wal-Mart a couple miles back.” The ash fell steadily and the skies, so bright only a few hours ago, were darkening to a black hellishly lit by fires below. The Wal-Mart in question was nearly surrounded by burning buildings, while somehow not catching itself. A trick of the wind, perhaps.
They would survive. Everything they knew was gone, and the future, well... they couldn't think too far ahead. Despair hung around their necks, longing, loss, and uncertainty. The Wal-Mart paking lot was deserted. Apparenly when the world ends people don't go shopping.

Chapter 3

Clarke, Louis, and about ten employees made up the entire population of Wal-Mart refugees. Everyone appreciated the potential value in a solar-powered car, so the first order of business was to get the car indoors. It was just a little too big to fit through the garden center doors, so the side mirrors had to be removed. The battery was disconnected and the interior side panels were removed. The speaker grill covers were take off, along with the speakers, to expose the nuts holding the mirrors on. The car was rolled inside. The doors were locked and barricaded to withstand the strangely strong winds blowing outdoors
Outside it grew even darker, and there was no power indoors. A desperate lot, the refugees were quick to follow any leader. The manager of the store, Raul, knew what to do, “Don't worry, I've had a plan for this kind of thing since I started here pushing shopping carts in.” They gathered flashlights and batteries so they could see what they were doing, then Raul directed them to use the camping stoves and salt to start curing all of the meat. They did this while scarfing ice cream. The frozen stuff had to be dealt with now, because the freezers had no power.
“See,” Raul explained, “Anyone that's seen Dawn of the Dead, or played Left 4 Dead, or knows anything about zombies, has a plan in case the shit hit the fan.” A single, middle-aged man with no family, Raul had little reason to mourn, and, in fact, saw the apocalypse as a bit of excitement far beyond the usual Wal-Mart fare.
“I totally had a plan for zombies!” Louis piped in, while he and a few others used tools to dig a well in the floor of the stock room. “I was going to go to one of those shrines with the eternal flame, 'cause, you know, zombies are really flammable. Then I was going to eat beans all day and easily eliminate any zombie that wandered in.”
“Can zombies enter a shrine?” asked Clarke. “That's holy ground, even if you were proudly flatulent.”
“They're ZOMBIES, not vampires,” Louis chided, rolling his eyes. After a few days, the fires had mostly stopped burning, but the sky was completely black. Anyone passing in a vehicle might now even see the store with the raging winds blowing ash all over. The only way to tell time was by clock and calendar. Air temperatures began to fall. Nuclear winter was setting in.
Some of the refugees drank heavily, and for good reason. Raul tried his best to keep everyone occupied. Everyone worked together to dump bags of dirt onto the floor of the garden center and spread seeds. Three was no sun now, but someday there would be, and the glass ceiling there would make a perfect greenhouse. They had a few bonfires in the garden center using wooden palettes. They cooked and drank and drank and sang along to the iPod in the car until the batteries in the trunk had drained.
After a few weeks, it was too cold to stay in the garden center all the time. The group bundled up in clothes and blankets and relocated. “Hey,” Clarke asked one day (or possibly night) as the group played cards and board games. “I played Fallout 3, and all the water was radioactive. How does this Brita water filter fix it?”
Raul didn't know because it didn't involve zombies, but a somewhat awkward teenager named Steve had the answer. “Well,” Steve said, snuffling his nose, “Water isn't radioactive, it's particles in the water that are dangerous. Activated carbon filtering removes the particles, and that's why our well water, from an irradiated aquifer, is safe for us to drink.” He looked proud to have chipped in. The poor kid really missed his pet gerbil, and hadn't had much of a life off the internet before now.

There was no water pressure, so pits were chiseled into the floor for toilets. When they were used up, they were filled in and covered to contain the smell. A couple of months passed with Raul as leading his motely bunch as best as anyone could. Secretly, he hoped for a zombie or two to knock on the door just so he could really feel like he was accomplishing something amazing.  

No comments: