Sunday Archives: The Walkers, conclusion
Selano turned the truck around, crossing the median, and headed back through Grand Junction. He saw movement from out of the corner of his eye and jerked, “Fuck!” he shouted, then he jammed the gears in a panic and barely kept the truck from choking on him.
Three men raced out of the bushes, fully clothed, and Selano saw them throw something. Then the ground ahead of them burst into flame and he skidded to a shuddering halt.
He pulled a pistol out from beneath the seat and shot blindly out his window, towards the three men. Then more came out from the buildings and alleyways, surrounding the truck. They stood there, the only sounds the truck and the gas fire spread out along the road.
Selano checked his mirrors. They were encircled, but the raiders didn’t move any closer.
“What are they waiting for?” Isaac hissed.
The raiders were all clothed and groomed. They looked human, but something was nagging at Selano.
“Chief, these boys aren’t what they appear, are they?”
“They don’t look it.”
“No, they don’t.”
Three of the Walkers parted, breaking the circle, and allowed an old man on a cane and a teenaged girl to pass through. The two walked up to the truck, making a wide pass of the dying fire from the Molotov’s, and stood about 20 feet from the driver side door.
“My grandfather wishes to speak to the men from Denver.” The girl called out.
“She’s no Walker.”
“Nor the old man,” Isaac replied.
“So I say we shoot the old man and the girl and I gun it out of here.”
Isaac put a hand on Selano’s shoulder and took a breath.
“Your attempt to escape will not be successful.” The girl shouted. “Nor can you harm my grandfather. The road back to Denver is blocked and 141 is washed out.”
Selano looked over at Isaac, “Now, that’s damned eerie.”
“We wish to speak to the men from Denver. Please, you will not be harmed if you cooperate.”
“I’m going to talk to them,” Isaac said.
“Well that’s stupid.”
Isaac shrugged and opened his door.
“No, I said it’s stupid! We can make it, man!”
Isaac jumped to the ground, circled around the front of the truck and came to within a few feet of the girl and the old man.
“Jesus Christ!” Selano shouted, then he leapt out as well and stood next to the crazy Indian.
The old man looked like he was 90. He was hunched forward, shorter than the girl, leaning two gnarled hands with paper-thin skin on a homemade cane. His robes were black and grey, like some sort of silly wizard from the storybooks. The girl was dressed much like the Walkers surrounding them – jeans, work shirt, boots. Her long, brown hair was drawn back in a messy ponytail and her face, without makeup, was narrow and sharp. She was beautiful, after a fashion.
The big Indian introduced himself. “Isaac Tallhorse. This is Mason Selano.”
“I am Maureen. My grandfather says that you carry drugs to the Pacific Union. It is in our interest to stop you here.”
“You said we wouldn’t be harmed,” Isaac said.
“I did not mislead you. If we must defend ourselves, we will harm you.”
“So we can go back to Denver?”
Maureen looked at her grandfather, who chuckled evilly, then she turned back to Isaac, “We cannot allow that, either.”
Selano raised his pistol and held it on the old man, “I’m hoping the next statement isn’t an invitation to join your friends here.”
“The Walkers will not turn you. You will stay with us. As you are. Your safety is assured.”
“Why?” Isaac asked.
“The drugs will be destroyed. It is the way it must be. My grandfather has brought this tribe together and we are building society.”
Isaac looked at Selano.
“Rebuilding what society?” Selano asked.
“Not rebuilding,” Maureen’s eyes traveled Selano’s body in a way that made him feel suddenly uneasy. Her gaze was hungry, calculating.
Selano cleared his throat, “How about you go ahead and keep the truck? We’ll just, uh…”
She was shaking her head, “No, Mason. You will stay. With me.” Her eyes fixed on his and he backed away. She turned to Isaac, “With us.”
Isaac was on guard. He held the trank gun firmly at his side. “Surely there’s no harm if we give you the truck and head back.”
“You must not!” She spat her words.
“You will join us and work for us.”
Isaac pointed at the encircling monsters, “These are Walkers, girl. I don’t know what your deal is, but we’re not – “
Maureen stepped forward, raising a thin arm and pointing a long finger at Isaac, who looked a giant compared to her slim frame, “Denver is nothing! Your people are nothing. They are wrong! They are who caused lorimiasis. Now we must cleanse the Earth of those who would wish to return the world to the madness it once was.” She tilted her chin defiantly, looking down her nose at Isaac.
She must have been all of ten when the shit really hit the fan in 2010. Selano shook his head. “What do you know about the old world?”
She looked back at the old man. “My grandfather helped create lorimiasis, back in 1976. Now we must atone.”
“You’re crazy.” Isaac said.
“And you don’t have a choice. These Walkers are with us. Soon, they all will be with us.”
“We can cure them, child. We can give them their lives back.”
Maureen looked back at her grandfather, then looked at Isaac. “Grandfather says that what has happened is natural evolution. The cure is artificial, made by the same men who helped destroy the world.”
“That’s not true.”
“Doctor Jacob Tanner. 1990-2005 assigned to Cheyenne Mountain bioweapons division. Colonel Harold Martinak, today known as Councilman Robert Anderson, assigned to the special weapons deployment squad in Syria, 2006. Shall I tell your friend here your real name and background, Isaac Tallhorse? Shall we talk about the Denver Elections that founded your Colorado Republic in 2010? Shall we discuss what you and Councilor Anderson talk about over scotch and a chessboard? The same things you’ve been talking about since 2003.”
“Stop!” Isaac closed his eyes.
Selano was backing away, shaking his head, “So what, girl? We all have lies. Walkers are Walkers and if this cure makes them human again, then we gotta – “
“Humanity!” Maureen screamed, racing toward Selano and grabbing him. She shook him, baring her teeth, until her grandfather pounded his cane against the road three times. Then she stepped away, tears streaming down her face, “Your Humanity took everything away.” She pointed at Isaac, “Men like him killed us all! They made the Walkers, they put us where we are today, they are responsible for every death and every ounce of suffering on this planet. They deployed the weapons that caused the disease, and they all got away.”
“We planned nothing, girl!” Isaac shouted back. “We followed orders and suffered along with everyone else. We’re no different just because we served the government that allowed this to happen. They’re gone now. They’re all gone! You’re going to judge the soldiers for the crimes of the generals? Of Congress? Of the President? Of men who have been bones or the walking dead for the last seven years? How do you even know this stuff? Who the hell are you?”
Maureen closed her eyes, still standing a few steps away from Selano, who had backed up against the grill of the truck. When she opened her eyes again, they were cloudy. Selano’s breath caught in his throat. He felt a pressure growing in his skull, his lungs burning, his eyes widening.
“The strain is pure.” Maureen whispered, her voice inhuman, without breath. “We are the next step.”
In the background, her grandfather started laughing. Selano let out a small wail, more fear building in his gut than he ever knew was possible.
“What?” Isaac raised his trank gun, aiming at Maureen’s head.
“Shoot her!” Selano screamed. Maureen lunged at him, tearing at his throat with her teeth. Isaac’s feathered dart missed as she ducked in to bite and slammed into Selano’s shoulder. He shouted out, twisted to avoid Maureen’s teeth, then hit the ground and rolled. She was on his back and biting into his neck. Her teeth ripping into the tendon at the base of his neck and white hot pain bursting in his head, jolting down his body. He rolled and slammed an elbow into her face.
Lurching to his feet, he pulled his gun and spun on her just as the encircling Walkers descended on them, howling. Maureen’s eyes were clear again. “Stay with me.” She hissed. “Say you’ll stay with me.”
Selano pulled the dart out of his shoulder, “I’m immune now.”
Isaac was screaming from beneath a pile of Walkers. Selano could hear them tearing the Indian apart, his screams dying in a sick gurgling.
“Say you’ll stay with me!” Maureen screamed.
“I’ll stay.” Selano said, as the first of the Walkers grabbed him. Immediately, they released him and went to join their comrades at the bloody smear where Isaac had stood.
Maureen stepped closer, her face long and sad, then she wrapped her arms around Selano and buried her face against his chest. “The Walkers are sterile,” she whispered. “You and I will make the strain pure.”
Maureen stepped back and smiled. “It will only save you. Our children,” she pressed her hands over her heart, “Will be of my flesh.”
Her grandfather began cackling again, then he turned around with the help of two silent, cloudy-eyed Walkers and ambled off towards the Holiday Inn.