Kris had never been in an RV. It was like a house on wheels.
There was a sink. A microwave. A stove and oven. A couch, two tables, and a bathroom, not to mention a bed big enough for two people.
“We could live in here!” Sky said with a gasp.
“You ain’t kiddin’,” Jamar added as he stepped on board. “We could rotate sleeping between the bed and couch while the two others drive. We won’t even have to stop.”
“Except for gas,” Arthur said. “And showers.”
“Don’t remind me,” Sky groaned. “I haven’t felt the comfort of a warm bath in what feels like weeks.”
“That goes for all of us, I think,” Kurisu said.
“Alright, drop your shit off, but don’t get messy,” Arthur instructed. “Kris, Jamar, you’re with me.” They stepped off the bus and opened the garage. The zombies roaming the streets were still a safe distance away.
“I-I can’t believe we’re leaving,” Kris said to no one in particular as he stared at the distant hordes. He’d felt trapped in Chicago ever since he’d arrived—not exactly the feeling he’d expected to get after visiting the Windy City.
“That remains to be seen,” Mr. Caldwell grumbled. He looked at Jamar. “Let’s get this show on the road, huh?”
Inside, the men found Sky and Kurisu compartmentalizing the food, gear, and weapons: Non-perishables went into the cupboards, perishables remained on the counter (Sky said they had to eat those first), flashlights and batteries went below the sink, and firearms and ammo stayed on shelves at waist level.
“So what are we going to do about gas?” Kurisu asked. “Do you think gas stations still work?”
“They might,” Sky answered. “I mean, just ‘cause it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean all the fuel on the planet disappeared, right?”
“We’ll siphon,” Arthur said as he climbed into the driver’s seat.
“Huh?” Kurisu and Sky asked together.
“Ya get a tube, stick it in a car’s tank, and suck the gas out. If we find a highway of deserted cars, we’ll be set.”
“Sounds dangerous,” Kurisu said.
“And gross,” added Sky.
“Well, lemme know if you come up with any better options.” Arthur held the key in the air for all to see. “Moment o’ truth.” Everyone held their breath as he pushed the key into the ignition and turned it. The engine struggled for what felt like an eternity, and then…ignition. “Houston, we have liftoff.”
The others smiled and laughed. Something had gone their way. It felt like a dream, a miracle, but as sure as the dead walked the earth, the RV rolled out of the garage, through the lot of Crazy Jack’s Used Car Emporium, and onto the road.
Kris moved a curtain out of the way so he could look through the window. The hordes turned to blurs as Arthur increased his speed. The RV seemed as safe as the grocery store, as secure as Gander Mountain—and it could move. Kris wondered how long it’d be before he got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Butts.
It didn’t take long to reach Gander Mountain. Arthur ran over a few zombies in the way in order to back up next to the store’s entrance. The undead clawed aimlessly at the doors and windows, completely surrounding the vehicle.
“Uh, now what?” Sky asked.
Arthur threw the RV into park, unbuckled his seatbelt, and stood. “Now we get our gear.” He walked to the middle of the RV and looked up. Kris followed his gaze and saw it: a latch leading to the roof. Arthur turned it, and a hole opened up. Using the nearby chair, he climbed through the gap an onto the RV’s roof. “Shotgun,” he said, reaching down. Jamar handed him his weapon. “Everybody up.”
Jamar, Sky, Kurisu, and finally Kris (though he had much more trouble than the others) followed after passing the guns topside. Together they looked down at the sea of rotting faces surrounding the RV.
“Over here,” Arthur said. He stood at the rear end. The others joined him. Kris spotted a ladder on the back of the RV allowing a safe climb down to the pavement—if it weren’t for the dozen or so zombies crowded up against it, that is. “We’re gonna take these suckers out and clear a path. Jamar and I will run in, grab all the gear we need, and run out. We’ll be outta here in minutes. You guys keep our path open. Got it?”
“Just the two of you?” Sky asked. “What if something goes wrong?”
“That’s what this is for,” Arthur said, patting his shotgun.
“It’s a twenty-foot journey,” Jamar said, eyeing his concerned wife. “We’ll be okay.”
“Just don’t mistake us for one o’ them and cap us,” Arthur added. He cocked his shotgun, and an empty shelled bounced off the RV and into the horde below. “Let’s do this.”
Everyone but Kris pointed their barrels over the edge of the RV and rained a barrage of bullets upon the heads of the undead. Blood splattered and brains oozed as the lifeless, rotten bodies crumpled to the cement. When they’d taken out at least two dozen of the things, leaving a straight shot to the entrance, Mr. Caldwell and Jamar climbed down and ran inside, shotguns locked and loaded.
Sky and Kurisu continued shooting, dropping anything that got too close to the store. Sky looked over her shoulder and saw Kris standing a safe distance away, his shotgun trembling in his hands. “Kris!” Sky shouted. “Are you gonna help us?”
“I-I can’t,” Kris said, feeling a mixture of anger and disappointment.
“Then gimme the shotgun!” Sky slid her pistol over and held out her hands. Making sure the safety was on, Kris tossed the gun over. If he wasn’t going to use it, at least she would. Sky caught the gun, turned around, and continued blasting skulls, her entire body shaking with the force of the kick. Maybe she wasn’t so small after all.
Kris picked up the pistol and looked it over. He walked up behind Sky and Kurisu and watched them do what he could not. A knocking sound distracted him. He went to the front of the RV. A group of undead was pushing against the vehicle’s door, and it looked like it might give at any second.
“Uh, guys?” Kris called.
The only response was more gunshots.
Sky’s head snapped around. “What?”
Kris pointed down. Sky rushed over and looked. “I’ll take care of this,” she said. “Make sure Kurisu’s got enough ammo.” With that, she fired into the crowd.
As it turned out, Kurisu was a pretty good shot. She took her time lining up her sights, and each pull of the trigger meant one more dead zombie, a fresh bullet in its brain. “Here they come!” she shouted.
Kris peered into the store. Sure enough he saw Arthur and Jamar sprinting toward the doors, each of them pushing a cart burdened with as much weapons and ammo as it could hold. As they ran through the doors, a zombie to side lunged out farther than Kris would have guessed possible.
“There!” he shouted, pointing.
Kurisu lifted her gun, aimed, and pulled the trigger.
Kurisu’s expression soured. She didn’t even have to say anything; Kris acted on reflex, on instinct. He lifted his pistol, pointed it at the reaching zombie, and fired. A round caught it in the arm, lowering it just inches before reaching Arthur’s jacket. His breathing deep and his heart pounding, Kris didn’t stop to consider what he’d just done. He simply continued shooting until the creature fell silent.
“That’s the spirit, kid!” Arthur shouted. He and Jamar stopped their carts against the RV’s rear end and pulled out their shotguns to help clear the never-ending horde from the area. Kris saw they’d lined the carts with tarps ending in ropes. Genius.
“All you, big guy!” Jamar shouted, tossing up the first rope. Kris grabbed it, wrapped it around his hands, leaned back, and pulled. It felt like he was lifting a boulder. Kurisu, bless her heart, grabbed on and tried to help. Halfway up, Sky stopped shooting and came over to help, too. Finally the tarp passed the edge and the guns and ammo inside spilled onto the rooftop. Kris saw Jamar’s hand and realized he’d helped push the heavy load from the bottom. One down, one to go.
The second one was easier. After it was up, the roof covered with weapons, they were good to go. Arthur and Jamar clambered up the ladder as Sky ducked below. When everyone was safe on board, Kris slammed the roof with his fist to give Sky the signal, and she peeled out. Kris watched Gander Mountain and the zombies fade from view as they left them behind forever.
“Alright, this is good!” Arthur shouted down the hole. Sky jerked to a halt, spilling some of the ammo over the edge. They’d stopped a few blocks over, the streets were empty of any roaming bodies. Together they picked up the fallen ammunition and lowered everything into the RV. They stowed small arms, rifles, and shotguns alike, grenades, and even a fishing pole.
“Wow, you guys grabbed some good stuff,” Sky said.
“Sure did,” Arthur said, picking up an assault rifle and removing the empty clip. He held his arms out and looked at the ceiling. “This thing’s our fortress, an impenetrable tank—the Alamo.”
“I like the sound of that,” Jamar said grinning.
Arthur helped organize the rounds and weapons as he continued. “Now there needs to be some ground rules: No shooting inside the RV. You can shoot from inside, like out an open window, but if a zombie gets in—which will never happen—take ‘em out with a knife or something. Second, we keep this place clean, and the windows stay open whenever possible. Last thing I need is two teenagers stinkin’ up the place.” He glared at Kris and Sky.
Kris raised a finger. “But I’m twen—”
“Third, with five of us in here, at least two people need to be awake at all times. That means driving overnight, two people in the bed, one on the couch, two up front. This is a safety thing. Finally, the side entrance is off limits in risky areas. Take the roof, get a view of your surroundings, and climb down the ladder so you’re not ambushed. This ain’t gonna be some fuckin’ horror movie where you get taken out by an unsuspecting zombie lurking right outside the door. We clear?”
The others spoke their affirmation. Kris just nodded. As gruff, strict, and even harsh as Mr. Caldwell seemed, Kris knew he cared about the group as a whole and wanted it to survive. It had to; who knew how many others were left?
After the sorting everything appropriately, Arthur hopped back in the driver’s seat and gunned it for the grocery store. The routine was the same: He and Jamar ran inside to gather as much as they could while, Kris, Sky, and Kurisu provided cover. There weren’t as many zombies around the grocery store, so Arthur and Jamar took their carts to the side entrance and loaded everything that way. Minutes later, they were moving again.
“Get comfortable,” Arthur told them as he adjusted the mirror and sped away. “We won’t be stopping ‘til we have to.”