Judgment Day: Part 26

March 21st

Walking in Darkness

When faced with coincidence, a reasoning mind must be suspicious.  Daryl’s van shuddered on the road, wind whipping through the windows, the sound of metal on metal coming from somewhere beneath and behind him.  Molly, still unconscious, moved with the van.  She twisted right and left, her body in tune with the laboring engine.  Ahead, Martin ran through the rain without headlights, storming down the middle of the country road without fear.  Martin was a different breed.  His idea of a good time usually involved blowing up toilet bowls at this stupid “hunting camp” he had bought in West Virginia, the remains of a tiny mine town, abandoned in the early 80’s and left to rot with a muddy government road and a set of abandoned railroad tracks providing the only access.  He wasn’t a mountain man or anything of that sort, the property was purchased on a lark a couple of years ago.  But that and a deeply cynical, anti-social attitude had always been worrying.  Martin had enforced a sort of self-exile, working from home, traveling alone, and never receiving a personal phone call.  He made Daryl look like a social butterfly.  Hell, they all shared those thoughts, though.  Maybe that was the common link.  For the three of them to survive this disaster was too much of a coincidence for Daryl to accept.  Yet, something about it did make sense.  Emotionally, perhaps, the three of them were prepared for this.  Daryl with his despair at the working world, Azizi the shut in working on his computer, and crazy Martin.

He smiled and looked ahead at Martin’s speeding pickup.  He could tell just from the last few minutes that he fool was in his element, locking himself into a little paranoid survivalist world.   Martin was the dumpster diving, urban adventuring type with a shelf full of manuals on how to survive the end o the world.  Too bad Daryl felt like he was on  Breakdown Street.  A nuke or a plague was one thing, but angry super-zombies with axes to grind was a bit too much to think about in one setting.  There were wild emotions boiling inside him. Trying to recall the events at the gas station, only a mile behind him, was already difficult.  The recent events falling behind a hazy, defensive barrier. A moment where his life was on the line and it felt unreal, like a dream, as he followed his friends along the country road to Sugarloaf Mountain.  All the images of the past two days had been thrown into the realm of impossible visions.   How could society just come to a screeching halt in a matter of minutes?  And how could those things rise from the ashes with such power and organization overnight?  There was a feeling of design to the whole thing.  From the beginning, each one of those things acted as if they had known him.  They appeared to be sharing each other’s thoughts, but Daryl was one survivor out of many.  Why treat him with kid gloves just because he stood up against them in hour one?  There must have been hundreds of people who gave them a rough time that night.

Those monsters put more fear in his heart than the end of civilization.  Humanity, law and government were gone in the blink of an eye and there wasn’t an inch of regret in his heart.  He realized, first, that that might be a problem.  A total disregard for the old life.  Right now, it was fine, because the material world of the dead could easily provide for a handful of living.  He had his two closest friends and everything they needed would be growing on trees for a while.  In the midst of millions, billions of corpses, it was a utopia.  Especially out here in the country and, ultimately, Martin’s West Virginia hideout.  He had no doubt that that would be their final destination.

Dealing with the dead – family and acquaintances lying out there somewhere – was no matter.  Most of Daryl’s family was gone.  His narrow group of friends were primarily represented by the two jokers in the speeding, sliding, pickup in front of him.  So that left the apocalypse with one problem to deal with: Those creatures.  A problem larger than his mind could work around.  These impossible, supernatural monsters weren’t just stumbling through the darkness.  They could think and strategize; they knew something more about the situation than he did.   Survival seemed a hopeless cause in the face of a superior enemy.  What was this ‘agreement’?

Those damned things meant business.  But then they pulled their punches when they finally caught him at the gas station.  What’s the point of that?  Block the road, ambush him, hunt him down and then yell at each other because of some ‘agreement’ forbidding them to kill him?

Martin turned sharply at the T-intersection watched over by the old Comus Inn.  The road led to Sugarloaf, and Daryl spared a glance at the dark Inn.  He’d been there several times while on day trips to the mountain.  Great wine selection, and a wonderful Sunday brunch.  Luxury lost, the service society faded into the March rain.

It was afternoon, but the skies were still solidly grey.  The rattling van was decidedly uncomfortable, cool air whipping in through the shattered windows, metal dragging behind them and the rain hitting his neck from somewhere above.  He looked over at Molly, unconscious and bleeding, her shirt hanging open, her face pale, and he hoped the collective medical know-how of three wage slave yahoos on the impossible side of a fantastic adventure could piece her back together.

The road ended at the Sugarloaf parking lot, which was empty save for a few service vehicles.    A one lane access road led up the mountain, vanishing into the forest.  The terminus appeared at the far end of the parking lot and, even in a confused and miserable state, Daryl knew a bottleneck when he saw one.  Azizi and Martin had picked a fortress with no escape.

To further worsen the situation, they had toppled a tree across the terminus of the access road, blocking it from the parking lot.  Though, if an enemy were to come up, they, too, would be trapped on the tiny road.  Easily neutralized, if there were experienced people holding the mountain.  If the creatures were together enough to coax human survivors into their fold and set up roadblocks, then it wouldn’t be hard to overwhelm three wage slaves and a wounded girl.