If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 2 Part IV
Out of its dormant state it comes alive, lurching at me with a loud moan. The door swung in so now I can’t retreat I have to go forward. Raising my leg, I hit him square in the chest with a front kick sending him back. He stumbles and falls onto his ass. Not wanting to risk hand to hand combat with a Moaner who even if I beat will still potentially kill me from just a mere scratch on my knuckle let alone what would happen if he was able to get ahold of me and sink his teeth into my flesh.
Hanging on the wall next to the door is a variety of garden tools. Next to a spade is a hard rake. Grinning for a moment thinking of my Hard Rake Ninja friend. Before I can grab the rake he’s up. Working my way around the back of the car taunting him to follow he comes forward. I dance as best I can with my back still sore in front of him trying to keep distance but getting him to follow me. Slowly in a game of cat and mouse I’m able to get to the hard rake. Pulling it off the rack swinging it horizontally in one motion I hit the car antenna on its way towards the Moaner’s face. The antenna makes a loud metal “thwang” and shakes back and forth as the rake sinks into the side of the Zombie’s face higher than I aimed for. Not being a blow deep enough to kill him he’s now attached to me with the long handle of the rake. I’m able to push him and keep him at bay by the length of the handle. Working my way back to the rack I hold the rake with one hand and grab the spade with the other. Orienting the spade on edge like an axe I bring it down onto his skull.
The explosion of putrified brain matter is like a stench grenade. Triggering the gag reflex I erupt with vomit onto the Moaners twitching corpse.
I should’ve known better. The guy was dead in the kitchen and the door was locked from the inside. What was I thinking? That the Zombie let himself out and locked the door behind him with a key to the joint? Of course he was still somewhere in the house. He must’ve gone through the open door to the garage and closed it on himself somehow. Stupidity like that is going to get me killed. I know it’s not a case of ‘If’ but ‘When’. It’s like riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles, eventually you’re going to get hit by a car. It’s definitely going to happen.
Looking through the old man’s tool bench I find some twine and shove it in my pocket. There are jars of screws, nut and bolts. It’s an old work bench built in the 70’s out of 2×4’s and 1×6 planks as the surface to work on. He was a handyman with several toolboxes filled with vintage Craftsman tools from the days when if after you bought a Craftsman tool, if it ever broke you could bring it back and get a brand new one for free. Even if it was ten or twenty years after you bought it. I had a set of Craftsman chisels that were my Grandfather’s from the 50’s. I never used them because they were so valuable to me. They’re still in my tall stackable toolbox, that set got it’s very own drawer. Nothing else was ever put in there.
Rummaging through the tools I find a military knife. It’s a KaBar, with a reinforced plastic sheath. This guy must’ve had a son or nephew who fought in Viet Nam, unless he was an officer during that time. They had KaBar bayonets earlier most certainly, but this one has the plastic sheath and they weren’t used till the Vietnam war, even in Korea they had sheaths made from webbing material and metal. I unsnap the guard and draw it from the sheath. There’s some surface rust, but it’s in very good shape. Using my thumb to feel the sharpness of the blade, I can tell it’s moderately dull. In the corner of the garage, next to the wall of the kitchen is the water tank. I tap on it. Full. It had been well maintained and the valve works effortlessly so it’s easy to top off my hydration bladder. On the shelf are some empty glass bottles, the kind juice used to be put in and a box of black plastic lawn and leaf bags. I pull two plastic bags out and stuff them in my cargo pocket. Grabbing the largest glass bottle I bend down to open the valve on the water heater and let just enough water out to rinse away any dust which had collected over the years. Filling the glass bottle, I can use it as a reserve. The glass is too heavy to carry in my pack, but at least I’ll have something to drink for the next couple of hours without having to come in and fill my hydration bladder again with the stench of putrified brain mixed with vomit.
In the corner of the garage is the washer and dryer. Opening the door to the dryer I pull the lint screen out, its full. The lint makes a perfect fire starter. I stuff it into my pocket to save it for later.
Stepping over Zombie rake guy I re-enter the kitchen and begin to open the drawers. In the drawer next to the sink are the utensils and the knives. Moving stuff around I see a long dowel type of sharpener. It’s 11:45am and it’s going to keep getting hotter till around 4pm, I want to get some rest before having to move in the latter part of the day. Gathering up my pack and all the trinkets I head back to the master bedroom.
Spending the next 20 minutes sharpening the blade on the Kabar I evaluate my work. It’s a long blade, 7” with a wooden handle. On the sheath it says USN M.K. 2. I set it on top of my pack with the twine and lie down on the bed. With the door closed and the dresser wedged against it I feel relatively safe to rest.
There’s enough light for me to open A Farewell to Arms and I begin the first chapter. Not two pages in my eyes begin to blur but it feels good to read the printed word. I miss the printed word, even before the collapse words printed on paper were rapidly giving way to an electronic device, removing people from the romance of the printed word and the lush library smell of a vintage book. It’s a smell making me feel nostalgic. Quickly I fall into a deep slumber.
The front door was kicked in, I still had my keys, I’d been carrying them for well over a month now. The inside is pretty ravaged, all the kitchen cabinets are open and what ever contents had been in there are rendered useless and strewn across the floor. I look in the garage, the car is gone. She must have been out when the EMP hit. I had gone into every camp I came across on my way home, it had taken me the full month to get from Huntington Beach back up to West Hills, about 50 miles, but they were a tough 50. I knew there’d be little chance of finding them in the camps to the South of our house but there was always the chance she might try to work her way South to meet up with me. She would’ve tried to get home with out her car when the EMP hit, then head out of town with our daughter when things got bad. Other than things being wrecked in the house there were no signs of blood or any serious zombie altercation. There were crowbar marks on the safe, but they didn’t get in. I tried the combination, but the electronic lock had been fried by the EMP. I had a backup controller in case the batteries died in the panel on the safe, but that too had been fried and even if it hadn’t I doubt it would’ve been able to activate the internal workings of the safe. No matter what, those electronics were toast. In hind sight I wish I had bought the old fashion mechanical dial kind, it would’ve been cheaper than the electronic kind, but who knew at the time. So much for the Gold, pistols and the lower receiver for my M4 neatly stacked on the velvet lined shelves of the safe. The upper receiver to the M4 was still stowed away inside the wall of my shower stall vacuum sealed. I left it there safe and snug in case I ever came back this way. It serves no purpose now, just dead weight.
Waking, I feel the sweat pouring off me and I can hardly breath. My throat is completely dry. I choke while gasping for breath and reach for the glass bottle of water.