Xombie Xing: Chapter 31

“Motherfucker!” Arthur cursed. The group shot up in their seats and looked toward the driver’s seat. The RV was slowing and veering toward the highway’s shoulder. Thick, black smoke erupted from under its hood.

Kris gulped.

The bedroom door flew open and Sky leaned out. “What’s wrong?” she cried, her speech much clearer now. Kris looked at her and quickly glanced away blushing when he noticed the only clothes she wore were socks and her sweatshirt that barely censored her lower bits.

“God damn, girl, put some pants on!” Jamar cried from his position on the couch.

“There’s no time for pants if we’re being attacked!” Sky argued.

“No one’s being attacked!” Arthur shouted from the front. “Now put some fuckin’ pants on!”

Kris watched from the corner of his eye as Sky glanced at each of them in turn. “So we’re okay? There’s no problem?” Apparently she was too tired or hungover to see the smoke.

“Yes, we’re fine!” Arthur yelled.

“Fuck it. I’m goin’ back to sleep then.” She closed the door and disappeared.

Jamar snorted in laughter. Kurisu just rolled her eyes and joined Arthur at the front. Kris followed.

Arthur parked the RV and punched the steering wheel, sending a deep, deafening honk into the still midnight air. “Fuckin’ perfect,” he mumbled. He unbuckled and made for the door. “Well, let’s go check it out.”

“Um, Arthur?” Kurisu squeaked.

Arthur paused at the door. “Yes?”

“I think you’re forgetting your rule.”

Arthur looked back at his hand, still frozen to the door handle, muttered something to himself, and made for the roof hatch. Jamar, doing his best to contain another burst of laughter, merely smiled at Kris and raised his eyebrows.

The four of them crawled onto the roof and down the back ladder, but not before grabbing a couple pistols, just in case. Kris was the last once down. As he descended, he realized the ladder crossed over a massive window into the bedroom—a window left open by the thick curtains pushed to the edges. He saw Sky’s half-naked, sleeping form and nearly fell from the ladder his hands grew so sweaty.

He rounded to the front and found Arthur lifting the hood, coughing as the thick smoke hit him full-on in the face. “And here I thought I’d be used to this by now,” he wheezed, flicking his cigarette butt away.

“What the hell happened here?” Jamar said, peering inside from a safe distance.

“That looks pretty bad,” Kurisu added.

“‘Course it’s bad,” Arthur said. “Smoke’s black as charcoal. I don’t know shit about engine repair. How ‘bout you?” He looked at Jamar.

“She knows more than I do,” Jamar answered, pointing at his wife.

“Which is next to nothing,” Kurisu admitted.

Arthur turned to Kris. “I don’t suppose you know anything about fixing RVs?” He sounded defeated.

Kris shook his head, and Arthur groaned.

“Lemme take a look,” Kurisu said. Arthur gave a look of mild surprise and stepped aside to let her lean in. She spent only seconds fiddling with the engine by the light of her flashlight before backing off and looking at them all. “I think I might actually be able to fix it, at least until we can get a real mechanic.”

“It’s a fuckin’ miracle!” Arthur cried. “So what are you waitin’ for?”

“Tools. I’ll need quite a few.” She listed off at least half a dozen, most of which Kris had never heard of before.

When she was done, Arthur crossed his arms. “What can you do with a hammer and a screwdriver? ‘Cause that’s all we got.”

“Uh… Nothing.”

“Shit.” Arthur sighed and looked down the road. “Well, looks like I’m walkin’.”

“What?” Kurisu said. “You can’t.”

“We still haven’t had any decent food in almost a full twenty-four hours,” Arthur said. “I saw a sign not far back. There’s a rest stop up ahead. With any luck, there’ll be some tools nearby.”

“Can’t you wait ‘til morning?” Jamar asked. “You don’t have to do this.”

“Dawn is still hours off. If I wait too long, we’ll get too weak to go at all.”

“Well, then let me go with.”

Arthur shook his head. “I need you here to look after things.” He looked at Kris, who felt his stomach drop at once. “But Kris can come with.”

“Me?” Kris cried. “But, I-I-I—”

“You nothin’,” Arthur interrupted. “I need someone watchin’ my back. Get your shit and let’s go.”

“How about, uh, I watch the RV, a-and you take Jamar with you?” Kris suggested. Jamar looked at Arthur, waiting for his reply.

“Don’t argue with me, kid. We leave in two minutes.”

His insides churning with anxiety, Kris burst into the RV to find some weapons and ammo. He heard Arthur call after him to bring out an extra shotgun. Kris gave the bedroom door a fleeting glance and exited the vehicle a minute later holding two shotguns and a pistol, his pockets full of ammunition. Jamar and Arthur were arguing in hushed voices about something but fell silent when Kris appeared.

“I-is everything okay?” Kris asked. He hopped his shoulders up to readjust the weight of the guns piled haphazardly in his arms.

“Everything’s fine.” Arthur grabbed a shotgun. “Let’s go.”

Kris gave Jamar and Kurisu a final look as he followed after Arthur into the darkness.

Walking down an abandoned highway in the middle of the night during the zombie apocalypse was much scarier than Kris originally thought it was going to be. Every little noise from the forest to his right made him jump in fear of an attack, zombie or otherwise. With nothing but a couple dim flashlights and the stars to guide them, the road seemed to stretch out infinitely before them.

After a time, Kris looked behind him and realized the RV was out of view. Should they be attacked, they were on their own. Kris gripped his shotgun tighter.

“So, kid, whaddaya know?” Arthur said. Kris jostled at the sound considering nobody had said a word since they’d left the RV.

“Huh?”

“Just tryin’ to pass the time.”

“Uh, I like drawing and comic books.”

“Yeah, but do you know anything useful?”

“N-no.”

“Hm.” Arthur was quiet for moment. “Why’d Sky ask to go to Maine?”

Kris recoiled at the question, but decided there was no use hiding the truth. “My parents are there,” he admitted.

“Is that where you wanna go?”

“Uh, well, I mean, that’d be nice,” Kris confessed with a shrug. “B-but, I don’t wanna decide for the group.”

“You won’t,” Arthur said. “I already did.”

“You mean—”

“We’re already drivin’ with no destination in mind. Might as well head toward loved ones.”

Kris nodded. “Thank you.” He fumbled with his gun for a few minutes, mustering up the courage to ask Arthur something. Finally he bit the bullet and spit it out. “Where’s your family?”

Arthur’s face fell grave. “Don’t have one.”

“D-did you ever marry?”

“Come off it, kid.”

“I-I just think we should look for your family, too, not just mine.”

Arthur sighed and sucked on his cigarette. “You remember when you and Sky found me on that rooftop.”

Kris nodded. “Yeah, I remember.”

“I was shooting at zombies, as you might recall.”

He did. Kris distinctly remembered almost wetting himself out of fear as the first shot tore through the air.

“I only made two shots before I found you,” Arthur said, looking Kris straight in the eye and holding up two fingers. “One for my wife, and one for my son.”

Kris felt his knees go weak, and he stumbled, almost falling, before regaining his balance. “Wh-what? I-I-I don’t understand.” His mouth felt dry.

“I lived in that apartment building. Never saw Sky, and she never saw me, but I lived there. With my wife. My son was in town. He’s an accountant. Lives in Colorado. They went out for lunch and never came home. Pretty soon, zombies started showin’ up. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. I went up top and waited to put them outta their misery. No way was I gonna let them suffer as living corpses.”

Kris wanted to say something, anything, to comfort Arthur, but a lump in his throat made it impossible to speak. So he just looked at the ground.

“Don’t pity me, kid. I lived a full life with a wonderful woman and a terrific son, and I had the opportunity to make sure they were dead—really dead. Considering the number of zombies roaming around, it looks like not many people got that privilege. Can’t ask for more than that.” Arthur looked back at Kris. “I’ll tell ya another thing. After shootin’ my family, I was gonna jump—join ‘em, wherever they went. But you and Sky showed up and gave me somethin’ to fight for. So thank you; Marcia would be proud o’ me for that.”

For the first time ever, Kris saw Arthur smile.

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