Judgment Day: Part 25

Daryl ran towards Molly just as Martin’s absurd looking, 1960’s-style piece of shit pick-up bounded into view. It sent a spray of water flying in the air as it hit the shoulder, then it took to the center of the road and began bearing towards the gas station. It was an unreal site. Everyone always said it never happened like it did in movies, but if it never happened than no one would know how to depict it, would they? Even the wildest dreams come from some outside image or influence. The pick-up cut through the rain, the windows blank, but Daryl still knew that his friends had miraculously survived and were coming to the rescue in the final reel. Impossible, beautiful, perfect. Of course, the pick up was aimed right for Daryl. He laughed, an edge of nervous hysteria spilling out as he grabbed the woman.

“Oh-ho, sunshine! Here’s your evolution! We’re gonna have ourselves a party!” She was shocked, turning from the pick up and staring at Daryl. He spun her away and she started to scream something at the creature standing over Molly, but Daryl hit him first, grabbing him in a bear hug and falling to the ground.

Martin’s truck squealed onto the gas-station apron and veered towards the police car. The cop, taken off guard, screamed something unintelligible and turned to run towards the service bay. But Martin’s target wasn’t the car, the pickup zipped past it and hit the cop and the creature that had been holding Daryl, plowing them down and breaking right before it slammed into the Honda. The cop was beneath the van, the creature flew into the rear window of the Honda with enough force to pass right through into the backseat.

Daryl slipped away from the creature’s grip and danced away. It lunged towards him and he fell backwards, crying out.

A man in fatigues and headgear jumped out of the passenger side of the pick-up and spun a rifle around towards the woman, who tensed, then turned to run. He didn’t hesitate, though, and the creature’s head vanished in a fine greenish mist. With that, the monster attacking Daryl lunged back up to his feet and started backing away, a look of pain crossing its face, then it rushed towards the pick up. Daryl watched as his old friend Martin stepped out of the driver side, wearing a pair of almost comical chain gang boss sunglasses, and calmly flipped up two big revolvers. He fired them in quick succession and the creature flew backwards. A third shot to the monster’s head sent it to the ground in a lifeless heap.

Daryl blinked in the rain, staring dumbly at his two friends who looked as if they had just walked off some low grade movie set.

The man in fatigues, removing his headgear, walked over and squatted down beside Daryl. Azizi, his college buddy from Iran was second generation American. “You still alive?”

Daryl wanted to hug him and start crying like a small child. “I don’t know.”

“Life is fleeting,” Azizi said, “It’s hard to tell, sometimes.”

“Is this for fucking real?” Daryl sat up, his hands bleeding, his head pounding and, as he looked at his friend’s face, he did finally burst into tears. All of the emotions since the subway crash came flooding through him. He hugged Azizi tightly.

“Jesus, Daryl,” Azizi muttered, trying to pull away.

Martin laughed, coming up to them. “You boys want a room?” He looked up, “Hey, does this mean I get the naked girl?”

“Molly!” Daryl let go of Azizi and turned towards her. She was unconscious, lying on the ground where the creature had dropped her. He struggled to his feet and went over to her, kneeling down and cradling her head in his arms, trying to block the rain.

“Wow, true love at work, Azizi.” Martin said. “Watch carefully. I expect you to hold me like this later tonight.”

Daryl carefully lifted Molly and took her over to the van, putting her in the passenger seat. He wiped the rain and blood from her face with his sleeve.

“So the world ends,” Martin said, coming up behind him, “And you get the little coffeehouse girl? That’s got to beat all… I was looking forward to this shit just so I could get some Adam and Eve action. Instead I’ve been sitting with Azizi in a shed for two days.”

“It’s more of a mansion,” Azizi muttered.

“What are you guys talking about?” Daryl whispered, his eyes never leaving Molly’s face.

“It all began in Fourth Grade,” Martin said.

“How the hell did you guys survive? This is impossible.”

Martin snapped his fingers, “Oh, shit, we meant to ask you that question! Can we start over?”

Azizi shook his head, “Best we get under cover. We took care of the other squad, but this will tip our hand.”

“What the hell is going on?” Daryl asked.

Martin replied. “They came in and blocked the ramps early in the AM. Part of our post-apocalyptic neighborhood watch program is to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Usually we wouldn’t bother a truck, since commerce is what makes the world go round, but this truck was driven by mind-sucking jelly-beasts with an axe to grind, so we thought we’d investigate when they started reenacting scenes from The Road Warrior. And here you be.”

“He do be here,” Azizi added.

Daryl turned towards the van. It had been banged up more than he thought.

“Goddamned happy to see you alive, D.” Martin said softly.

“This is impossible,” Daryl muttered, “That all three of us – “

Azizi coughed lightly. “Yes, yes, it’s astounding. Look, they blocked the exit ramp like they knew someone was coming. There’s more to this than a simple end of the world story. And we should go. I remember mentioning that a minute ago.”

Martin grabbed Daryl’s shoulder, continuing his narration of events. “Then you reenacted a few scenes from Duel and, because you’re a movie junkie, you subconsciously headed to the truck stop to make your last stand against the machines. It was beautiful. We would’ve stayed put if you hadn’t of gotten your candy ass whipped.”

“Actually,” Azizi said, “Martin said we had to get involved because some coffeehouse chick was being stripped down.”

Martin shrugged apologetically.

“Seriously,” Azizi continued, “I’d like to go back to the leaving the scene of the crime idea. These things are organized. I don’t fancy standing out in the rain and having a reunion if there’s an army coming down on us.” Azizi grabbed Martin and started pulling him towards the pick up.

“Follow us, D!” Martin shouted back, “We’re going down a rabbit hole!”