Xombie Xing: Chapter 18

Jamar shoved the gun away. “What the fuck, man?” he cried.

“She got infected blood in her mouth,” Arthur said. “She’s as good as dead.”

“We don’t know that!” Sky shouted, taking position between the group.

“We don’t know that we don’t know that,” Arthur retorted. “You wanna risk your life by staying with her?” He lifted his gun again.

“Back off!” Sky screamed, and she shoved Arthur back a step. “You’re gonna kill an innocent woman based on a theory?”

Arthur didn’t respond. He spat and turned away.

“What about Kris?” Jamar asked. “He’s been bit, and he’s immune, right?”

Kris looked at his wound, wrapped in gauze. It’d been healing nicely, and he hadn’t turned. The only explanation was immunity.

“What if Kurisu’s immune?” Sky asked Arthur. “If Kris is, why not Kurisu? Huh?”

“Kris is the exception, not the rule,” Arthur muttered.

“What if it’s a blood disease?” Sky said. “What if, like, you can only turn if they bite you, or you get their juices in an open wound or something? We don’t know shit about this infection!”

“That’s exactly right: We don’t know,” Arthur agreed. “And luck is not on her side.”

“We can’t kill her,” Kris whispered. Tension dissolved as the group turned to him. “We’re not any better than them if we…” His voice trailed off.

Arthur nodded. “Fine. She can stay with us. But in the back, with Jamar. First sign of turning and I put her out of her misery. Got it?”

Jamar nodded. “Yeah. Okay.”

Arthur turned to Kurisu. “Nothin’ personal, ya know.”

Kurisu nodded, looking terrified, her hands clutched close to her neck and chest. But at least she was alive—for now.

The group moved back through the tunnel the way they’d come. Their trip through the pitch black darkness felt quicker this time. Maybe it was because they knew what they were doing. Maybe it was because Kris was excited to be moving on, leaving this infested city behind. He couldn’t tell.

“You think you’ve seen a horde?” Arthur teased from the front of the group. “You ain’t seen nothin’.”

“Whacha mean?” Jamar asked.

“The west side of Chicago is crawling with zombies,” Sky said. “We stick to the rooftops, but that’s gonna be hard when our goal is a used car lot.”

“Hey, Sky, what would happen if we kept going through the tunnel instead of going up at our regular stop?” Arthur said. “Would that drop us off closer to the lot?”

“It might,” Sky said. “Maybe only go two stops further; we don’t wanna overshoot.”

So two stops farther they went. Arthur led them to a platform, and they climbed the cement steps into the afternoon sunlight.

“You weren’t kiddin’,” Jamar said, looking around and seeing the mass of undead on the streets.

“Damn straight,” Arthur said, and he looked at Kurisu.

“Let’s not hang around,” she said, squirming with discomfort.

“Follow me.” Sky shot down an empty alleyway.

“How far to the car lot?” Jamar asked.

“Two, maybe three blocks.”

“We sure there’s an RV there?”

“If not, we’ll grab a truck or minivan or something.”

“And if there are no cars at all?”

“Then we are fucked,” Arthur answered.

They stayed between the buildings until they hit the street. Sky looked around quick before running down the next alley. By the third block, Kris had trouble keeping up. At least the apocalypse might help him get into shape. Then again, his being out of shape could end up being the death of him. He pushed the thought from his mind.

“I thought you said three blocks!” Arthur cried as they bolted down the fourth alleyway.

“It’s the next one, I swear!”

But it wasn’t; it was the one after that. After emerging onto the street, Sky booked it east, and finally they came upon it.

“Crazy Jack’s Used Car Emporium,” Jamar read from the broken neon sign marking the entrance. He looked around and saw a decrepit building and a mostly vacant lot overgrown with weeds. “Looks like the apocalypse hit Jack a few years early.”

Kris looked around in disappointment. He saw three vehicles: a pickup truck and two compact cars. Unless they split up, there was no way they’d get to Indiana together.

“Shit,” Arthur mumbled. “Well, what now?”

“We take all three,” Jamar said.

“That’s three times the gas we’d be using.”

“Do we have any other choice?”

Not wanting to hear his friends’ endless banter, Kris strolled off toward the building. Peering inside the window, it looked like the office hadn’t been remodeled since the 80s. Maybe this place had been closed for decades and Sky simply never realized.

Kris wrapped around the corner and stopped. He saw before him giant garage doors. Crazy Jack’s wasn’t just a used car lot; it was a repair shop, too. He tried to peek inside, but the shops were too dark to make anything out. He ran back toward the group. “Uh, guys?” he said.

The others were too far away to hear him. Mr. Caldwell and Sky were still bickering, and Jamar and Kurisu were sitting on the hood of the nearest car, holding each other.

“Guys!” Kris yelled. Four heads snapped in his direction. “Um, there are garages here.”

“Garages?” Arthur said. He was already walking over. The others followed.

“I’ll be damned,” Jamar whispered when he saw them.

“Let’s open one up!” Sky said. She ran toward the closest one and tried to lift it. “Little help?”

All five of them crouched and gripped the bottom of the door. Arthur counted it off, and on three, they lifted. The door went up.

Arthur shined his light inside. “Plenty o’ tools, but nothing else.”

“The next one,” said Jamar.

They opened one door after another only to find empty and abandoned garages. Kris was beginning to lose hope until the final they opened the final door.

“I don’t believe it,” Jamar muttered.

“It’s a Christmas miracle!” Sky shouted, and she flung her arms around Kris’s neck in a tight embrace.

Kris staggered, feeling flustered at the hug and excited by what he saw: In the middle of the garage sat a giant, ancient RV.

Arthur slammed the garage door down behind the group, enclosing them safely inside. He approached the RV and clicked on his flashlight. The others watched as he went up and down both sides of the vehicle, carefully checking it for…something. He popped the hood and rummaged through the engine, turbines, and other foreign parts Kris couldn’t pinpoint.

“What’s the verdict?” Kurisu asked.

“Seems sound and stable, but I haven’t checked the inside yet.”

“I’ll do it,” Sky said, stepping forward.

“Like hell you will,” Arthur said, moving between her and the door. Before she could object, he opened the door and stepped inside, shotgun out before him. “No keys!” he called out. “Somebody find ‘em!”

“You heard the man,” Jamar said. He and his wife headed toward a shelf behind the RV. “We’ll check over here.”

Sky and Kris found racks and drawers near the garage door. They dug through the piled junk. Kris found papers, tools, bolts and screws, but no keys.

“Found ‘em,” Sky announced, pulling a set of keys from a toolbox. The emblem on the keys matched the one on the hood of the RV. “Looks like we lucked out; I bet we weren’t the first people to try to take this thing.” She jogged to the RV and leaned her head inside. “I found ‘em, Art!” she yelled.

“Ya did?” came the old man’s disgruntled voice. He emerged from the RV and blinked. “Gas tank’s half full. We can make it at least a couple hundred miles before filling up.”

“You mean, we’re really leaving?” Jamar asked cautiously.

Arthur nodded.

“And my wife?”

Mr. Caldwell looked at her. She looked as beautiful and healthy as the moment Kris and Sky had found her in the bomb shelter. “If she hasn’t turned yet, she’s safe,” he said.

Kurisu and Jamar broke into grins and hugged each other. Even Sky and Kris smiled.

“Let’s not waste anymore time,” Arthur said. “Get your shit in and let’s go.”

“Next stop: Indiana,” Sky said.

“Not quite. First we’re going to Gander Mountain and grabbing all the guns we can. Then we’re going back to Kurisu’s to stock up on all that food she had. We’re runnin’ low.”

“Good idea,” Jamar said. “We should pack anything we can, long as we got room for it.”

“Gander Mountain it is, then,” Sky said, and she plucked the lit cigarette from Arthur’s lips and flicked it to the ground before stepping inside. “Rule number one: No smoking in the RV.”

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