Chapter 26: Wrong Turn
Little Belinda James sits bubbling in her big brother’s lap. The idea of spending time with her big brother Chip even if it was during the zombie apocalypse seemed to make her smile even brighter. She holds onto his neck tightly smiling as Chip's arms pump rhythmically rolling his wheelchair as fast as he can down the smooth two lane road. B as her family called her had a full tilt case of hero worship when it came to her big brother she didn't see his handicap like the rest of the world. She thought it was awesome he always had a place for her to sit and talk. "Hold on B." Benjamin junior huffs glancing back every few seconds. He keeps his eyes moving on the lookout for zombies both those they had left behind and those they have yet to encounter. "Ok Chippy!" B smiles brushing her sand colored curls from her face. "I'm not scared Chip really I'm not." She beams nestled in place on her brother’s lap. Chip's mind races "good at least one of us shouldn't be." He thinks to himself as a late summer breeze whips his shoulder length hair out behind him. The only thing Chip wants in life right now is to round the curve up ahead and coast up to the front of the farmhouse. He feels exposed and alone without the protection of his family. The real terror was the Sun dropping rapidly to the west for when the sunsets some of the dead around these parts learn a few new tricks. Zombies start running, talking and murdering the living with psychopathic zeal just to name a few. Chip powers up to the bend in the road so focused he couldn’t put his finger on what was out of place until it was to late. "Jesus Christ." He shouts aloud startling his little sister. The road begins a gradual sloping curving away from the farmhouse and other survivors with the James clan. Instead of banking to the right the road rolls on to the left to a steep incline. Before he knows it gravity has Chip's wheelchair firmly in it grasp pulling them down the slope.
He'd blindly throttled the chair like racehorse his momentum propels him into the turn. Chip didn't dare stop the chair for fear of pitching them both to the ground. This would likely result in serious injuries to them both. Chip takes time to ponder their situation coming down the slope he sees a vast subdivision to their right ringed by mountains in the distance. A few houses were burning and he observes dozens of shuffling mobs the undead were milling about waiting on their next living meal. The subdivision was situated in a massive oval road intersected by a multitude of side streets crisscrossing north to south or east to west spread out over miles. "Chip I'm scared now ok?" Belinda whines. "I want mommy and daddy can we turn around pleeeease?!" This declaration came complete with fat tears the kind only a little girl can generate meandering down her chubby cheeks. "I can't B if I stop us we will flip over plus there's no way I can roll back up this hill." Chip notices to their left are barren farm fields they barrel on down the slope. Chip watches great plumes of black smoke dance on the horizon. He knows this is the city they had narrowly escaped. “Daddy will come get us I know he will Chip. “ Belinda sniffles wiping her nose on Chip‘s stained shirt. It was to close to nightfall Chip is painfully aware that if his dad was coming they would have seen or heard them by now. Oddly enough he was worried that they were alright as he jets towards the nightmare that awaits him and Belinda. There is an intersection where the subdivision’s main road lets out onto the road at the base of the hill he has currently found himself on. His hazel eyes behold a more pressing concern at the base of the incline a pile up of smashed cars. They are fast approaching a horrifying scene littered with dead bodies both the walking and more traditional prone varieties. Zombies swarm about most hunching greedily over mauled bodies tearing of flesh to devour. Chip senses his breath quickening in spite of himself wanting to appear brave for his baby sister. Chip has spent the better part of his life assessing situations from the perspective of a paraplegic. Speeding down the hill heading straight for a massive tangled of ruined vehicles of every sort. Chip has to assess which threats he needs to avoid and in what order. “Have to avoid zombies and jagged metal in that order.” He runs down to himself. “B hug my chest don’t look up if we go we go together.” The small girl nods her understanding placing her wet face against her brother’s muscular chest as instructed. Two thing cross Chip’s mind first he has only one chance for his plan to work as he descends the hill. Second if it comes down to it he would have to kill his baby sister to spare her being torn apart.
The road slowly levels out but Chip doesn’t reduce his speed nor does he reach for one of his weapons. The pistol his dad had given him and his lucky mallet is tucked on either side of him in the sleek blue wheelchair. He couldn’t fight his way through this deadly obstacle course. So Chip chooses to attempt slalom past the dead silently he plots a course through the wreckage now it was just a matter of timing. Holding his breath he guides his chair past a group of zombies gathered over the corpse of an unfortunate police officer. The only thing the dead notice is a gust of wind as they blew by. A sharp turn and Chip maneuvers his wheelchair up a diagonal row of intertwined cars. It was here that his hands slip on the thin black wheels of his chair. They are gooey we he is rolling through blood and human viscera some fresh and some days old. With out slowing he wipes both hands quickly on his pant’s leg. Chip shudders feeling the occasionally chunk of flesh press into his palms. They whiz through the ragged metal corridor turning left at an over turned white and red ambulance. Chip ducks low passing a line of cars he has found the opening at the end of the pile up. He almost stops short seeing the teenage boy in the skinny jeans from behind. The young zombie rocks back and forth in place from this angle he appears to be a normal disenfranchised teen. Chip sticks with his plan of not stopping making one adjustment on the fly. “B stick out both your legs straight hold ok?” He instructs his sister. The small biracial girl complies with her brother’s command instantly. Chip doesn’t slow down with his little sister acting as a battering ram. They hit the unsuspecting zombie Belinda’s feet connect squarely between its back pockets. The walking corpse stumbles unsteadily forward tripping its head strikes the roof of a black sedan. The zombie’s head hits with such force it leaves a circular dent in the car’s roof. “What was that? “ B asks with out uncovering her eyes. “Nothing now keep your eyes closed B. “Chip says absently trying to keep himself focused. From the road above Chip noted once he past through there was an opening the nearest zombies were all well down the road. Chip zooms through the last scattered vehicles outlining the densest part of the pile up. Ahead a white pick up truck sits its driver’s door open it’s covered in dried crimson handprints like racing stripes. He meant to give the car a wide berth. “Can I look now?” Belinda asked muffled against his chest. “No not yet.” He tells her glancing down at his chest briefly. Without warning they hit something pitching forward violently.
Chip watches helplessly as B tumbles across the ground coming to rest beneath the open truck door. He’s momentarily dazed looking back a dead man with tattered skin hanging from his neck is crawling from under the pick up truck’s rear. This was the cause of his current misfortune clearly he had wheeled right over the zombie‘s outstretched arms. “Shit.” He whispers upset at having taken his eyes off where he was going. “B …. B!” He calls quietly to his little sister noticing an abrasion now running from her temple to the middle of her forehead. She sits terrified legs drawn up to her chest rocking. His wheelchair has collapsed closed and sits on the ground between them wheel spinning in the fading sunlight. Chip hears the zombie crawling up behind him scanning the ground he can see the gun up by his sister. The dead man lurches up on all fours lunging for Chip who catches him with a single gloved hand around his damaged neck. The corpse hisses angrily laying its weight on the boy. Ben Jr. looks for his sister zombies from up the road shuffle down up on them. They are drawn by the commotion and closing in on the two warm living humans. The Sun above Ben and his foe suddenly blots out. He looks up Belinda is standing over him and the undead attacker. She has the pistol pointing at the now moaning zombie her tiny finger straining to pull the trigger back. Knowing the safety is on the pistol Chip yanks it from her grasp with his free hand. He clubs the zombie with the butt of the weapon never letting go of its neck. His blows are swift and powerful the zombie doesn’t cease its attack until he crushes it skull. Chip tosses the bloodied zombie off of him its brains now dribbling from a gaping wound in the side of its head. Chip struggles to right himself as the corpse flops to the ground he hears the familiar tingle of metal against the ground. A key ring has fallen from the dead man’s pocket. A look back at the gathering horde Chip grabs the keys up from the ground. “Is the truck empty upfront B?!’ He yells pointing to the bleeding little girl cautiously she scampers a few feet up and peers cautiously into the trucks open cab. “Yes she calls back.” Looking around for the first time Belinda James notices the dead as deep moans signal their lethal intent. “Grab my chair and get in now.” Ben screams pulling himself forward across the ground. “I wanna help you Chip.” She wails reaching for her brother. “No! Belinda Madison James you get in there now!” He stabs the air with his finger employing his mother’s trick of calling B by her full name. It works the girl begins to struggle with the cumbersome chair into the trucks wide cab.
Surveying the scene Chips tucks his arms in rolling under the pickup. He grabs the lucky mallet before rolling gracefully back out from under the truck. Belinda screams Chips comes to rest against a pair of battered work boots belonging to a large zombie attempting to work its way into the cab after Belinda. The corpse looks down growling at Chip. From flat on his back he raises the pistol thumbs off the safety and fires. The shot sends a round through the zombies chin blowing is brains out the top of its head in chunks. Chip sits up in time to let the zombie hit the pavement behind him. In one motion Chip ignores the zombies encircling their position flips the mallet into the cab with Belinda. With gun in one hand and keys in the other he uses the dead man as a step to reach the door. Using both the door and driver’s to pull himself up by flexing the toned muscles in his well developed arms. With one heave Chip lifts his body up his legs dangle uselessly for the time being he lowers his body into the driver’s seat. The rest is routine he pulls his legs using his pants legs into the truck slamming the door in advance of the first wave of the undead. He cranes under the steering column with his left hand jabbing the keys in the ignition. Belinda begins to scream Chip hadn’t realized the window on his door was down until the female zombie seizes his shirt collar. Crossing his right hand over his body he shots her in the face without looking up and turns the key. The engine rattles to life Chip sits up hitting the switch to close the window in advance of a new set of hands. With his hands shaking he presses the lock button securing the cab. He becomes aware of the eyes on him as one zombie simply presses its decimated face to the window. “I’m gonna eat both you assholes. You kicked me into that damn car.” The dead teen sporting a crushed nose and forehead smirks. The Sun has gone down Chip steals a look up to see the ribbons of orange light dancing menacingly across the purple night sky. “Fuck you ugly this meal on wheels has left the building.” Chip grins dropping the truck into drive jamming his foot on the gas. The diesel powered pickup truck blast forward through the crowd of broken bodies with ease. Zombies are catapulted in the air while dozens more are simply run over. A body hits the windshield causing it to spider web. Chip drives over the grass into the subdivision avoiding a pack of zombies moving in for the kill from the sub division. Chip clips a white wooden sign that reads “Welcome to Clow Oaks” losing the passenger side mirror.
A loud thump in the bed of the truck catches Chip off guard. “Over here we got two!” The teenage ghoul shouts hanging on to the trucks roof like a leech. They fishtail in the soft grass Chip fight to keep the truck headed straight. They hop the curb B bouncing wildly I her seat. Back on paved roads Chip can handle the powerful engine of the pickup a little better. “Hey little girl I’m going to peel your skin off.” The zombie cackles glaring in the back widow. Chips jams on the brakes the zombie’s face is plasters across the back widow. “You’re not touching her ass wipe.” Chip yells in anger forcing the gas pedal down their truck rockets forward once more trailing an ever growing mob of the living dead. Their unwanted undead friend is thrown roughly about the bed of the truck. “Well lookie lookie what I found.” The dead teen shouts rising to his feet in the truck bed again. “Hey everybody we got fresh meat here a cripple and a kid.” Chip hears a siren blare after the nimble zombie has its say then they hear electronic crackle. Looking in the rear view mirror Chip sighs his dad was right about ‘catching a break.’ “Great he found a damn bullhorn.” Chip shakes his head driving deeper into the housing development he takes notice of the fact dead are thinning out. Chip bides his time waiting for the ghoul to relax its grip. Raising his head to shout skyward Chip takes the opportunity to stamp down on the brake his feeble gimp leg straining. His foe is propelled over the front of the pickup through the warm night air. Landing in a heap on the ground in front of the idling truck the zombie pulls it shattered body up but not in time to escape the grille and its “Ford” logo. They bounce over the corpse with the bullhorn still in it‘s grasp. Chip savors his moment to long he doesn’t see the stationary fire truck until it’s too late to avoid the collision. Instinctively he throws his right hand over his sister as the truck absorbs the punishing blow. The airbags deploy in an instant saving them both. Chip beats the deflating bag into submission looking about they are still in advance of the pursuing dead. He backs the crumpled white pickup back it moves begrudgingly. He puts the truck in drive once more. “Are you alright B?” Chip asks eyes still on the road. “Yes Chip just get us back to mom and dad I’m scared now.” He nods solemnly at her request.
Driving the mangled truck down the road Ben junior heads for the lesser populated back lot of the Clow Oaks subdivision. He is painfully aware the truck is on its last legs and won’t make it back to the farmhouse on the hill. After several torturous minuets they come up to the rear of the housing development. The truck is rattling as it turns down the darkened streets sluggishly. With a rush of steam the trucks engine dies it coasting silently up onto a lawn its bumper tapping a large tree. Chip flings his door wide grabbing his wheelchair opening it a dropping it down in one clean motion. “Grab the lucky mallet.” He orders Belinda plopping down in the chair. He tucks the gun away scanning the streets they are alone for now. Belinda leaps from the truck lucky mallet in hand right into her brothers arms. They abandon the truck and set out down the empty street. Chip’s arms burn the same way a cross country runner feels strain in their legs. Feeling the burn each push he makes is agonizing he doesn’t stop or slow down. The frantic siblings pass a several houses from the sidewalk each menacingly dark. “We need to get in one quick.” He tells himself aloud. “Over here…” a voice shouts whispers from one of the houses. Chip spins his chair about his eyes comes to rest on the next house up. The curtains are parted slightly in the plain grey houses expansive bay window. Belinda points twisting Chip‘s head between her small hands “The door is open Chip hurry.” Without hesitation Chip wheels his chair around and heads for the house with renewed vigor. “Hurry before those animals see you.” The voice is a woman’s Chip can hear her clearly now. He flips his chair around pulling himself backwards up the three wooden steps on the front porch Belinda bouncing in his lap. They roll into the pitch black house as the sounds of the undead echo from behind them. Belinda gets up closing the door quietly she latches both locks then jumps back into Chip's lap.
“Be quite children here they come filthy animals devouring everything in their path.” The woman speaks from her front room. Chip and Belinda sit in the small foyer a long set of stairs leading to the houses second level is before them to the right of the staircase a narrow hallway. Outside the screams of the dead fill the once quite street. Zombie moans play as background music to the screeching ghouls running about. “Check every fucking house.” Someone screams from the street. Chip pulls his wheelchair backward pressing it against the door he deploys both brakes. He pulls the lucky mallet free first then his dad’s pistol. His breathing has yet to slow down B buries herself in Chips chiseled chest. “They are coming up on the porch children …” The woman says her tone so low it’s almost in audible. “There was two of them weren’t there?” A voice asks from the front porch the door knob jiggles as something tries it from the other side. “Hell yeah I hear one of’em was like a kid.” Another voice exclaims gleefully. “Man I can’t wait I want to eat a kid so bad.” The first voice responds for the porch. “I almost caught me one the other day but I was too slow. I fucking hate changing back to a dumbass during the day.” The things outside on the porch breakout into a sick laughing fit together. “Hey is that one empty ….” A distant shout inquires. “Yeah doors locked stupid.” One of the figures walking across the creaking porch responds. Chip’s heart skips a beat “they are working together.” He thinks sitting rigidly with deeper fear than he has ever known. The footsteps leave the porch and the conversations become distant. “Check the woods out back …” is the last thing they hear clearly. “We should be safe now children.” Woman comes closer Belinda slowly relaxes placing her hand over her nose. “Ma’am my name is Ben and this is my little sister Belinda. You saved our lives for sure. I can’t tell you what it means to us that you helped us out.” The woman’s footsteps come closer. “No problem …” She chuckles from the front room. “I can tell you what it means to me.” The tall lean woman appears silhouetted in the doorway to the living room. “It means I don’t have to share.” She snarls setting her orange flecked dead eyes on the pair as black blood drips from her mouth.
Wow things aren't looking up for for Chip and Belinda James. The siblings have become separated from the rest of their group of survivors. With zombies all about Chip manages to get he and B to a house after a harrowing ordeal. The only problem is they have been lured into said house by a ghoul who knows full well what she's doing.
Want to know what happens next? Chapter 27 will be up the week of March 17th come back and see us then.
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