Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dead Land Journal September 13th 2027

I was on the road all day yesterday. I remember taking road trips with my family when I was a kid. It was not unusual for us to cover four hundred miles in a day. According to the odometer on the International I had not even travelled ninety miles. I took MO-13 north out of Osceola. Somewhere MO-52 merged with 13 and then the whole deal turns into 7 highway in Clinton before turning west. At the intersection of Franklin and 7 Highway in Clinton there was a massive pile-up with over a dozen cars and three tractor trailer rigs. One of them was carrying flammable liquid and there had been a fire. I had to get off the highway and take side streets through the town. Just south of Harrisonville I had to take 71 highway.

I hate 71. Every time I have driven 71 I get lost. And this time was no different. I missed my exit and had to turn around. The highway was clotted with cars once it entered Harrisonville and going was slow. But then I was able to get on 291 Highway and I could breath easier. I know 291 very well. So I was able to take that straight on to Lees Summit Road. I did not stop till I got to I-70. I turned east to hit the Quik Trip next to Wal-Mart. I have always bought gas at Quik Trip. Just a habit. There have been times I barely coasted into a Quik Trip on fumes, passing four or five gas stations on the way.

I topped off the tanks using my portable pump. Before I had even started pumping I had opened the valve between the fifty gallon and the nineteen gallon so it could fill while I was setting the pump up, It automatically closed when the smaller tank was full. I had a dozen five gallon cans but I had plans for those. By the time I had put the nozzle in the fill tube of the big tank I was feeling watched. I don't know if it was paranoia or true sixth sense, but the sun was already going down. I had taken longer than I planned. I should have stopped a couple hours earlier and camped in one of the smaller towns I had passed through. By the time the tank was full I was so completely freaked out that I just left the pump sitting there and took off.

Driving with one hand on the wheel and one hand on my gun I made my way to the house on Coachman. The house was still standing, that was a good sign. I made my way to the garage where the radio was set up. I heard a motor start up and froze before I realized that it was just the generator kicking in. I checked my watch. It was 7:30 just like scheduled. Once inside I checked the tanks. It was nearly empty, as I suspected it would be. I filled the tank with the cans I had brought. I flicked a switch in the booth an the lights came on. I closed the door to the booth behind me and turned the monitor on. It showed thirty two saved messages. I had set the save parameters a bit stricter so it was only saving messages thirty seconds or longer. I copied them onto a memory card and then leaned in close to the microphone. I found myself actually whispering my new message.

"Warning Kansas City and the surrounding metropolitan areas are infested by hostile creatures. These are to be considered extremely dangerous. Enter at your own risk."

I broadcast the message and set it up to repeat hourly until there was no more fuel in the generator's tank. On the way out of he booth I saw a wet print in the concrete floor of the garage. I had closed the booth's door but not the side door of the garage.

I turned just in time. Three gunshots obliterated the thing's head. But the .357 only holds six rounds in the cylinder. A revolver does not jam, but its capacity is limited and unless you have speed clips it has to be reloaded manually. I peered out the garage door and I could see that there were more out there. One was standing on the hood of the International. Two of them came bounding towards the garage obviously drawn by the sound of gunfire. I shot two of them dead and the third stopped in confusion or fear I don't know. I wasted no time getting out of there.

I had been down Coachman numerous times, but always in the daylight. At night, when your scared, everything is different. I was quickly lost. I was exposed, the beasts were out, I had no transportation and I was down to one bullet. I had a fully loaded shotgun in the International and a few boxes of ammo. Fat lot of good they were doing me now. I managed to elude them most of the night, but they were never far behind me. No sooner would I get a chance to stop and think than I would see one of them. Often just a shadow, they were the definition of stealth. But it was like I had a sixth sense with them. I would look out just in time and see a shadow move or hear one of their heavily padded paws scuff in some sand and I would run. I eventually found myself on Noland Road. Almost two miles from the house on Coachman. There was something that could save my ass on Noland if I could just make it there.

It was too far on foot I would never make it. It was a miracle I had made it as far as I did. I lucked onto a bicycle that still had air in the tires. Pedalling like the hounds of Hell were on my tile I took off. Actually I felt that was a pretty fair analogy.

I turned into the Landmark Dodge parking lot, already fumbling for my keys before the bike even hit the ground. I had never gotten around to throwing out the key. Behind me I could hear one of wraiths. There was just enough of a moon to see by. The little Smart was sitting right where I had left it. The door was even still open. I got in it closed the door and realized that the door had been left open. My heart sank. The wraith was coming fast. Knowing it was futile, I jammed the key into the ignition anyway and turned it. The engine cranked over reluctantly but caught. I forgot that the interior light had a timer and would shut off automatically after a certain time. I hit the headlights and the wraith was bathed in light from the HID lights. I used to hate those things, but I really appreciated them right then. The wraith howled in surprise and broke off from its charge. Feeling a little more confident now that I was once again encased in sheet metal I headed back.

By the time I got back to Coachman I still really had no clear idea what I was going to do. I could see the Travelall and trailer as soon as I turned off 39th. There were five of them clustered by the truck on the passenger side. I suddenly remembered a video I saw on You-Tube when I was a teen. I had been fascinated with crash test videos for a while and I saw one where a Smart was set up with a remote control and rammed into concrete barriers at 70 mph. It did better than the testers expected. There was virtually no distortion of the passenger cabin. Of course live occupants would have most likely been killed anyway. A 70 mph collision with a solid object is a potentially fatal event no matter how well engineered the car is. There is just too much energy to absorb, something has to give. But I did not think I would be going anywhere near that fast. I buckled up and gunned the motor.

I hit the cluster of them at about 35 mph. The airbags deployed and I was blinded by that for a moment. I had knocked a couple of them out of the way and pinned one between the International and the Smart. I knew that neither of the passenger side doors would open again on the International and all the glass on that side was gone. But that was ok. The remaining wraiths scattered. I think they were more spooked by the lights than anything. I jumped out of the car, the wraith pinned between the vehicles swatted feebly at me as I dashed around to the driver's side door. I had not locked the doors and they had not yet figured out how to open them.

I am terrible at backing up with a trailer and I hung up briefly on a parked car while trying to get out of there. But I managed to get going without losing the trailer or the ATV. Just as I was turning back onto 39th something heavy landed on the roof. Using my last bullet I shot through the roof and the wraith fell off.

I am currently typing this entry in a ranch style house on Renick Road. I just drove straight out 39th street. Thirty-ninth turns into Pink Hill Road and then Renick. I did not know that till now. I was just driving on pure adrenaline. I have never really gone this far on Pink Hill. I know how to get back on track, but I am just too friggin exhausted to go on. I hope I am not taking too big a risk staying here tonight. Hell I think I will need a day to rest up. There is plenty of canned food here, even some bottled water. Sun is coming up, will try to get some sleep.

© 2009 R. Keith McBride

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