Zombies - A Love Story Ch. 04byAsylumSeeker©
"It's not as bad as I thought it would be," Zack admitted to his new "bride" Caria as he piloted the Hummer and large trailer down a four-lane highway.
When they left town they'd had to make their way around concrete barricades, but once on the open road it was pretty clear, something Zack hadn't counted on. Perhaps it was the scenes of chaos and destruction he'd experienced while playing his zombies game that had given him the impression that pretty much all of the roads would be impassable, but this was not turning out to be the case at all.
Caria smiled to herself at this small victory. "I told you we'd be okay once we left town."
"Yeah, yeah. How about some music?" he suggested.
"In a few seconds." Caria turned on the radio to the AM band and pressed the Seek button, watching hopefully as it scanned the available frequencies. She then repeated the process for the FM band, neither search meeting with any success. "Okay, I'll put in a CD."
As the music started Zack said, "I'm surprised you're still looking for other survivors. I mean, look at what almost happened when those guys got their hands on you?"
Caria refused to think of everything so negatively. "Yeah, and look at what happened when you got your hands on me? Not everyone is bad, Zack. There have to be others out there, and I'm sure they're looking for us as much as we're looking for them. People don't want to be alone forever, that's not natural."
He shrugged his shoulders uncertainly, thinking that being alone wasn't all that bad. After all, they had each other. Wasn't that good enough?
As a popular hip-hop song played, Caria's slender, shapely body writhed in the front seat as she tried to dance to the beat of the music. Zack chuckled softly as he watched her covered boobs twitching with every move, the faint bumps of her nipples shifting beneath the fabric of her t-shirt. He experienced a slight shudder of arousal that began to dissipate as he returned his full attention to the road once more.
For the next half-hour they listened to the music, after which she ejected the CD and performed a scan of both the AM and FM bands again with the same results. Sitting back in the seat with a dissatisfied sigh, Caria scanned the line of trees on either side of the road before deciding she was getting thirsty.
"Want something to drink?" she offered.
Leaning over the front seat, Caria opened the lid of a cooler and extracted a large bottle of water. The little bit of ice they'd gotten from the freezer in Zack's house was already melting and she knew cold water would soon be a faded memory. Zack took the opportunity to admire her nice ass through the tight denim blue jeans she was wearing, giving one cheek a firm squeeze before she settled back onto the seat again.
After uncapping the bottle and taking a sip, she passed it to him and he did the same. When he observed a sign indicating the next town was just a mile away he slowed the vehicle to a stop and got out, opening the back door to retrieve a set of binoculars.
Caria excitedly asked, "Do you see something?"
"No," he responded while feeling for the confidence-bolstering handle of a pistol that was tucked in a holster on the right side of his body, "not yet anyway. Just want to check to see what we're up against."
She shook her head with mild frustration. "If we keep stopping at every town it'll take us forever to get to California."
"You're right," he acknowledged, not intimidated in the least bit by her complaint. "But at least we WILL get there. I can't protect us if we're not careful."
Walking to the front of the vehicle, leaning back against the hood, his mind began thinking as his eyes scanned the area for signs of life... or for a potential trap. Was he over-thinking everything as Caria was suggesting? Was he being careful, or was he really just being overly cautious because of what he'd seen in his zombie games, or in any one of many zombie movies?
Was it possible that a gang of greedy thugs could be waiting for other survivors to arrive so they could rob, rape, maim, and eventually kill them, as he'd seen in the movies? Or was he basing his caution on Hollywood action sequences that made for a good movie but were unrealistic in real life? What was real anymore anyway? Reality wasn't what it used to be, just as the definition of "normal" seemed to be changing at the same time.
"Well?" she asked with an impatient sigh.
He was so deep in thought that although he was scanning the horizon with the binoculars, he hadn't actually been looking. Changing his focus to the task at hand he took note of a small cluster of single-story ranch-style homes on either side of the road, some fenced in, others not. There were a couple of cars and two pickup trucks parked on driveways or alongside the road.
The scene appeared to be safe and quiet as no signs of life of any type were visible to his view. Perfectly safe, or a trap, a voice in the back of his head suggestively whispered.
"I don't see anything out of the ordinary," he reported.
He lowered the binoculars, looked at his lovely new wife, and smiled reassuringly. "Nothing. I noticed we're getting low on gas, we can see if the cars up ahead have any and drain them before we head off again."
Caria mentioned, "It's getting late and I'm getting tired. Maybe if we can find a comfortable place to stay for the night we can stop here?"
He grinned, thinking along the same lines as his mind turned to more erotic thoughts. "Sure we can. We can do whatever we want, whenever we want. No more rules except the ones we make up for ourselves."
She smiled back, her face bright with happiness. "That's right, we can do anything now. I never liked rules anyway."
He stepped up to Caria, threaded his thumbs through the front belt loops of her jeans, and pulled her up against him so their crotches were touching. Smelling her amazing scent as he leaned in for a kiss made his cock twinge with arousal, and as it slightly stiffened he made a point of gently grinding his growing erection against her. They shared a brief couple of kisses, the next longer than the previous, before she leaned away.
"Five minutes ago I wasn't in the mood at all," she admitted with a slight chuckle. "I was already beginning to think of a way talk you out of what I already know you'll be wanting to do."
He gazed deeply into her captivating eyes for several moments before asking, "What changed your mind?"
Her arms coiled around his neck before she raised up onto her tiptoes to give his forehead a quick kiss. Lowering back down onto her feet her shoulders shrugged uncertainly. "I don't know... maybe the way you're grabbing my jeans and pulling my body against yours."
Zack smiled broadly. "You like this, huh? I used to watch the guys in my high school do this with their girlfriends, and I just thought I'd try it."
Her eyes looked at him, reading his thoughts. "You were jealous of them."
"Of course I was," Zack freely admitted, "but if they were still alive right now they'd be the jealous ones."
Her eyes narrowed as a curious expression crossed her cute face. "Oh? Why is that?"
"Because you're way hotter than any of the girls they were with."
Caria's slightly pink face reddened with mild embarrassment when she heard his unexpected compliment. Her eyes, now sparkling with new excitement, gazed into is before she leaned in for another kiss. This time their lips parted, wet tongues snaking into one another's mouth. The embrace was deep, passionate. As their tongues entwined their bodies sizzled was romance, hearts beating faster as his cock swelled larger, her nipples stiffening as they pressed against his chest.
The distant slamming of a door followed by the faint barking of a dog immediately attracted their attention. Caught off-guard by the shocking sounds of life, they immediately separated, Zack's right hand drawing his pistol from the holster on his right hip.
"A survivor," she whispered, almost inaudibly.
"Has to be," Zack concurred. "I sure as hell hope they're not looking for trouble."
"Could be just one," Caria pointed out. "Just like you were alone when I found you. I'll bet there's more like you, Zack. More people out here wondering if they're the last ones on earth, trying to figure out what to do, how to live."
"Wondering if there are zombies wandering around looking for brains to eat," he interjected, giving her a sidelong glance to observe her reaction.
She grinned before playfully punching his left arm. "No, I'm pretty sure you're the only one who nearly dropped a load in his pants thinking zombies would attack when that alarm went off."
The memory instilled brief, mild embarrassment in him, causing Caria to quietly chuckle in response.
"You're never going to let go of that, are you?" he asked.
She slowly, purposefully shook her head, grinning the whole time, trying her best to hold back a hearty round of laughter.
Letting the moment pass he walked toward the open driver's side door. "Come on, let's check out the house and see who's there."
Driving slowly to keep the engine noise as low as possible, Zack crept forward until he was thirty feet away from the beginning of the front yard. He monitored the windows on the side of the house for any signs of activity, but there wasn't any. The dog in the backyard was kept in check by a waist-high chain-link fence, but that didn't prevent him from looking at their vehicle suspiciously and barking a few times at them.
Nervously, one hand on the butt of his holstered pistol, Zack approached the front door. Caria, more excited than apprehensive, walked along his left side. After reaching an old, cracked cement walkway with grass growing in the gaps, they took one step up onto a painted concrete porch that ran the length of the front of the small house. As Zack prepared to knock Caria instead took control.
"You just back me up," she suggested before tapping on the worn, solid wood door.
The sound of a wooden chair backing up on a tile floor abounded from within, followed by footsteps. A lock was unlatched before the doorknob turned, the front door opening. They were both confronted by a tall, thin man in his seventies with thin, balding, gray hair. His eyes were sunken, surrounded by dark circles, the aged skin hanging from his arms.
Caria immediately thought back to the pictures she recalled seeing of Jewish prisoners in the Nazi death camps, skinny beyond comprehension. This left her wondering if the old man had eaten anything since the... the event, for lack of a better word.
His old wrinkled face smiled as comprehension appeared in his frail brown eyes. "Eleanor! I thought you'd never get here. Missed breakfast, late for lunch, but you're here now. I'm powerful hungry."
Caria and Zack shared a sideward glance, wondering who he thought she really was.
"I'm sorry I'm late," she offered an apology for reasons she was not aware of while pretending to be Eleanor.
After letting them in the old man returned to an easy chair not far from the front of a dark television. Sitting down, he began chuckling, as if watching a comedy only he could see. Zack felt either invisible or insignificant, as the man never acknowledged his presence, only that of Caria.
"I'll make some dinner," she offered from the doorway of the living room, the kitchen just behind her.
Zack sat down on a couch adjacent to the recliner, studying the old man who was simply dressed in gray slacks and a white short-sleeved button-up shirt. We never should have met, he thought to himself. If the world hadn't gone crazy I'd never have a reason to be here, but here I am anyway, sitting in a strange room across from a demented senior citizen who probably had no idea what had happened to the world he had known.
Zack could hear Caria in the kitchen going through the cabinets searching for something to eat. A few moments later she peeked out and got his attention.
"Zack, can you grab that large can of beef stew from the car?" she asked.
He looked over at her, remembering the restaurant supply warehouse they'd raided. "Can you warm it up?"
"Propane stove works, I checked."
Since it appeared they'd be staying at the house for awhile, Zack not only grabbed the can she was referring to but also reached in back for a semi-automatic AK-47 assault rifle he'd found at a gun shop during one of their forays. He liked knowing he had access to it, even if he might not ever have a need to fire it except for target practice. Afterwards he locked up and armed the alarm out of habit.
Zack thought it was rather amusing as the old man continued sitting, staring at the blank television screen acting as if he was watching something. A couple of times Zack wandered into the kitchen to check on Caria, who was warming up the stew in a large pot she'd found in one of the cupboards. There were also a few white ceramic bowls resting on the counter in anticipation, along with three large spoons.
She turned and looked at him, their eyes meeting. Zack stepped up to her, reaching down and hooking his thumbs through the front belt loops of her jeans, rubbing their crotches together suggestively as he'd done earlier.
"What are we going to do?" she finally asked, her gaze lowering to the open door to the living room where the old man continued his intermittent chuckling.
"After we eat, anything you want," he said. "No rules, remember? We can stay here if he invites us, or we can check out one of the other houses down the street."
He saw the look in her eyes turn to one of concern. "No, Zack, what are we going to do about him? It looks like he hasn't had anything to eat since this mess first started. He's terribly skinny and his skin is just hanging from the bones. We can't leave him here to die, that wouldn't be right."
His demeanor changed to one of skepticism. "You want to take him with us? We can't drag the old guy all over the country, he'll slow us down even more. Look at him, he's crazy. We can't be sure what he might try and do, he could hurt one of us. We can't trust him."
Her eyes moistened. "He reminds me of my grandfather, the grandfather I'll never see again. What are you suggesting we do?"
Zack wasn't prepared to face a situation like this. He was anticipating running into other survivors, friendly or otherwise, but he hadn't envisioned himself playing the part of an adult babysitter. Changing the old man's diapers wasn't something he wanted to do.
"Who knows, he may not even want to come with us," he suggested hopefully. "Let's wait and see what happens, maybe we can talk about it in the morning... if we CAN talk to him, that is. I'm not sure he's even capable of holding an intelligent conversation."
"We'll talk at the table over dinner," Caria finally offered. "He seems to think I'm Eleanor, so maybe I can reach him."
After walking into the living room to announce that dinner was ready, the old man's face brightened. Struggling to get up, she helped him out of the easy chair and guided him to the small rectangular steel-framed table that looked as if it was straight out of the nineteen-fifties. For that matter, pretty much the whole place had a similar décor.
"Thank you Eleanor, it seemed to take you days to get here," he spoke up, the frustration evident in his voice as he took a seat at the head of the table. "You know I get migraines when I don't eat on schedule. I've had a terrible time with them lately. Was the traffic bad?"
"It was," Caria responded before flashing Zack a confused look. "What were you watching on television?"
He seemed to struggle as he tried to recall, but apparently he couldn't remember. "Oh you know, this and that, nothing important."
Noting his physical signs of malnourishment she dished him up a hearty serving of stew and placed it on the table in front of him along with a spoon. He wasted no time to start eating, shoveling large spoonfuls of food into his mouth as quickly as he could swallow. As he feasted on the stew Caria dished up a bowl for Zack and herself, then set out glasses of water.
Zack and Caria shared several sidelong glances as they watched the old man eating, taking smaller, slower bites themselves. After cleaning the bowl the man looked up, a slight ridge of perspiration forming along his thinning gray hairline.
"I've forgotten my manners, we forgot to pray," he realized. "I hate how unreliable my memory is these days, it seems I forget everything." Suddenly he noticed Zack sitting at the table and he was startled by his presence. "Who are you?"
"Granddad that's Zack, my new husband," she quickly intervened, not sure what the old man might do next.
An expression of confusion came over the man. "Granddad? What on earth are you talking about, Eleanor? Married? But... you're already married, you can't be marrying more than once."
Caria looked over at Zack silently pleading for some help, not sure what to do or how to handle him. For the first time she was feeling frightened by him, unsure what he might do next, just as Zack had expressed earlier misgivings about him. Maybe they would have to leave him here to starve after all.
"The sickness took nearly everyone," Zack intervened, realizing that at least the old man knew about that. "I'm not sure how many survived."
As they let that thought sink into his faltering mind Caria got up and filled the man's bowl a second time, placing it in front of him. His old brown eyes seemed to glaze over before his attention returned to the stew and he resumed eating.
"I wonder if he should be eating so much so quickly," she expressed her motherly concern, suspecting the man hadn't eaten for days, if not for weeks.
Zack was at a loss and simply shrugged his shoulders. A few minutes later, after eating the second bowl, he excused himself and got up, returning to the living room easy chair. As Zack and Caria continued eating at a much more leisurely pace they heard snoring start up.
"He can't be a danger to anyone as long as he's sleeping," Zack pointed out.
Caria kept what was left of the stew in the pot and set it back on the stove. If nothing else the old man might have one meal left. For his part Zack collected the dishes and rinsed them off in the sink.
"Zack, what do you think happened?" she questioned, broaching the topic every survivor had to come face to face with eventually.
He recalled watching the news reports during the initial panic-stricken hours and he knew, based on those reports, that whatever it was, it affected all of the major countries. It wasn't just the United States -- it was happening in Australia, Eastern and Western Europe, Russia, the Middle East. It was striking everywhere at once, it seemed. Could a germ really spread so far, so fast? Zack didn't think so, but what else could account for such widespread death?
"Maybe it's a gas of some type that's seeping up from beneath our feet," he theorized. "We had all of those major earthquakes, the volcanoes erupting, so maybe something that was safe as a solid is now a gas and it's being released from the earth somehow. And most people get sick and die from it, but not everybody."
He saw the fear in her otherwise captivating eyes. Caria admitted, "I'm afraid that whatever it is isn't finished yet, you know? Like it knows some of us are still alive, and it's going to come back to kill off the rest of us."
He pulled her into his arms for a big hug. "It's not intelligent, I'm sure of it. It's another natural disaster but of a completely different kind. It's not terrorism, it's not a lab experiment gone wrong, there isn't anybody out there trying to wipe out the human race. It's just our planet doing what it does."
Her eyes desperately searched his. "How do you know?"
"Know? Nobody knows, Caria, it's just a guess. It's as good as any other, I suppose. It's the only thing that makes sense to me. The earth is always evolving, and anybody living here has to evolve with it or it dies off, just like the dinosaurs. That's what those science shows on cable tell us, anyway. Why, what's your idea about it?"