The Fast and the Dead - Day 15

They were several blocks out from the city core when Ben brought the car to a stop. “Have you seen any? It’s been a while since I last saw one.”

“No. And we’ve gone too far for them to have left on account of us back there,” Claire said.

“I knew the roads were bad out here but I didn’t know they were this bad.” Ben’s face was white with worry.

“Do you think …”

Ben bit his lip. “We may have to abandon the car.” He sighed. “The roads are getting impassable the farther we go, and so covered with crap that we’ll make too much noise while we crawl along. It’d be faster and quieter on foot.”

“There has to be another way! Can’t we backtrack, cut out to the side, then head back down to the lake when we’re not cutting so close to the Core?”

“There aren’t many places to get boats out that way, and the Core runs close to the water—” He stopped talking at the sight of movement further down the road. “Damn. Looks like a few of them.” He looked at her questioningly. She was squinting further down. With a sigh, she turned to him.

“Let’s turn around. If we can,” she looked at the crumbled debris around them. This area looked like it had been bombed. They both knew there were parts of the old city where that was literally true. “Road’s blocked further ahead anyway. Head back up and away and we’ll figure out what to do then.”

He started the awkward process of turning; the rubble and wrecks of other cars left him little room to maneuver. They felt a jolt as Ben backed the end of the car into the side of another vehicle, but both started violently at the gnashing moans that came after. They craned their necks; Claire blanched. “There’s one in the car. It looks like it’s buckled in,” she said quietly.

“Buckled in? But how would a … Oh.” He shivered. That ex-person must have been in the car and belted in when he or she — it was hard to tell now — died, and still buckled in for the rising.

He started off again at the best speed he could manage, being very careful about every other car he passed. That was sure to draw more in and he couldn’t take being that close to the center of another horde again so soon. Or ever again, for that matter.

He started paying more attention to the windows of cars as they passed them; the number of corpses in them was disquieting. It was impossible to tell if they were just unfortunates who’d never been properly tended to, or if they were risen and ready to kill.

A feeling began to settle over Ben, a drifting accumulation like grave dust. He needed to just get out. Out of the city, away from the core, away from this craziness. “There was a major highway back this way wasn’t there? How badly do you think it’s clogged?”

“I wouldn’t bother, they were all pretty choked up with wrecks.” Her voice was as tight as his thoughts felt.