Last week’s post concluded Chapter 8 of Willet. When I started publishing Willet 1,500 or so at a time it was my intention to use it as a motivational tool to keep me writing. I estimated I would be able to write 1,500 words each week to keep ahead of the publication rate. Currently, I am writing chapter 16 and this exercise has worked fairly well. My intention was always to write a piece in present tense/active voice and this concept had always been bouncing around in my head.
While I have been able to stay ahead of the amount of words I’ve been publishing each week, other projects have sucked up a lot of my time. It’s always been my plan to release Willet on iBooks when I am done with it and if I release the entire novel on this blog then there will be no reason for people to download it on iBooks.
For somewhat selfish reasons I’d like to see how many people download it – so for that reason I’ll save the second half of the book to be solely downloaded in a format which can be tracked.
At chapter 16, I can assure you our main character has the end in sight and after some mis steps and skirmishes he has prevailed. With the final arc of the story close to being formed I will take the next 3 months to conclude the project and publish it by August… A soft deadline because I don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck.
If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 8, Part IV
“How’s that leg?” I ask Tyler.
“It’ll be fine. You got a bad back?”
“Yeah, you could say that.” I fish the med kit out of my leg pocket and tear into it. At the bottom are the two prescription bottles. Popping off the lid of the muscle relaxers I take two following them with one of the pain pills. I wish I had some of that bourbon right now. Sinking back in the seat I listen to the tinny puttering of that VW exhaust and think of how relaxing it is to hear a mechanical sound.
Cresting the top of the Santa Monica Mountains Mack pulls over to the viewpoint, kills the engine and comes rolling to a stop. We’re right at the turn off between Mulholland and Decker Canyon. He and Tinker Bell get out folding the front seats forward allowing us to get out. A giant plume of black smoke is rising from the explosions and the vehicles burning below.
“We’re going to have to find some more fuel if we’re want to make it back to the base in one piece.” As Mack was speaking two Moaners began to lumber out of a carport from one of the houses. Tyler raises his carbine. “No, save your ammo. Use Guy’s tomahawk.” I pull the tomahawk off the attachment point on my pack handing it to Tyler.
“Would you mind doing the honors?”
Nodding “Yup, someone cover me.” Tinker Bell raises her Carbine and Tyler jogs over to the Zombies, dispatching them quickly and quietly with the tomahawk.
“First, we need to get some fuel from somewhere around here. We should check those cars in that carport to see if they have any. But there’s another problem we’re going to have to deal with.” Mack says.
“The corner of Potrero road and Decker Canyon.” I offer as Mack nods.
“What’s at Potrero Rd?” Tinker Bell asks while sorting through the remnants of her ammo and empty magazines. “I’m pretty low. Two mags left.”
“There’s a ZFC going on at that corner and coming down into the valley is going to be a tough way to try to get through there. We were able to lure them away from the intersection before but that was because we could use the fenced ranch to go through. This direction isn’t going to allow that.”
“You guys and your stupid Zombie Fight Club’s. Idiots. How big?” Tinker Bell asked.
I knew exactly what Mack was talking about, it’s a T intersection and coming up from the other side we had access to that ranch but from here it’s a road that dumps you down into the intersection and it’s really just a rocky cliff to the West with no access for a car.
“I think we’ll need to do a two stage diversion.” Using his knife Mack starts to draw in the sand on the side of the road. “Tyler has a good arm so we should give him a couple of those mini frags and let him work his way up on top of the bluff. If he tosses the grenades down on to the road from above to the West that’ll draw the pack away from the intersection. We can get the Bug down to Westlake Blvd then draw them back to the East like we did when we came through there before.” Mack said looking up to me. It had worked last time, I doubt that they would learn from their mistake so it’d probably work this time.
“Got it.” I said. What about Tyler?”
“He’ll just have to work his way down this embankment and we’ll pick him up after we pass through the second gate. He’ll be safe on the South side of the road, it’s a sheer embankment about 20’ above the ground. It should take us about five minutes to get down, lure them away and then get through the ranch. That should give him enough time to get about 1/2 mile. It’s rugged, but it’s all down hill.”
“I know the area, not well, but I know it. I should be fine.” Tyler had a little smirk. He’s young enough that he still confuses risk for excitement. “Shall we scout that carport for some fuel?”
“Yeah, we better move quickly because that fire’s going to travel up this way. With out any fire departments left it might become a full blown wild fire.” The pain killer and muscle relaxers were really kicking in and I was starting to feel pretty good. The trick now is to not push things and try to keep everything together in one piece.
Inside the car port is a pretty new Range Rover and a Porsche. It doesn’t look like the owner is really into doing their own work because there are no tools in the garage, just recreational items like skis, tennis rackets and surfboards. Tyler tore open the utility closet and found just what we needed. There are two 5 gallon ATV style fuel cans. Grabbing them he brought them over to the Range Rover.
“What do you think? Think it’s gasoline in here or two stroke?” He asked.
“If it looks dark it’s probably two stroke. Just dump it out in the yard and we’ll start fresh with fuel from the Rover.” Mack is looking through the garage for anything we could use to siphon the gas out and coming up empty.
“In the front I saw a garden hose coiled up.” I say.
“On it.” Tinker Bell turns heading for the front yard.
“Cut about six feet.” Mack yells to her, while taking his knife and prying open the fuel tank door. Tyler comes to the back with the 5 gallon fuel jugs and set them under the filler port. In short order Tinker Bell came back with the section of garden hose. Fishing the end down into the tank Mack began to suck the fuel up. Too aggressive he gets some gasoline in his mouth. In a violent eruption he coughs it up and begins choking and gasping for air.
Quickly grabbing the hose I stuff it into the jug. “You okay?”
He nods. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” He manages to get out in between gasps.
It takes about ten minutes to fill one container. Pouring one into the Bug’s fuel tank while filling the other one from the Rover. When the second one fills to the top we put the first now empty jug back under the hose but the flow is dying out, filling the can to only about 1/3. Between the fuel we got out of the U-Haul and the Range Rover we top off the Bug and have about two gallons to spare in the fuel jug. Putting the empty jug in the trunk of the Bug and the one with the two gallons in the footwell in the back seat we’re now good to go.
“We better make tracks.” The smoke from the fire’s getting bigger, with the amount of dry weather and the heat we’ve had this summer it’s going to prove to be an epic fire and there’s nothing we can do to stop it from coming over the top of the mountains and destroying all the houses. I feel like the old guy, they’re making sure I not straining myself by moving the heavy fuel cans or doing anything tough. I hope I’ve earned Tinker Bells respect, she seems like the toughest nut to crack out of all of them.
“We should first go through what ammo we have left.” Mack suggests, Tinker Bell is way low, she only has one full mag with 28 rounds left and one mag seated in her rifle.
“There’s an ammo can of 5.56 in the front.” Tyler points to the hood. “Steve thought it was better to be safe than sorry.” It’s ratchet strapped into the front against the spare tire. Quickly popping the release Tyler pulls the ammo can out as everyone dumps their empty mags on the ground.
“How much ammo do you have for that?” Mack says referring to the 1911 I have.
“One mag in the well and four full mags.” I figure it’s a last resort weapon for up close and personal contact.
Tinker Bell and Mack quickly begin jamming mags and I follow as best I can. I’m out of practice, they’re fast, almost twice as quickly as I am. I’m having a hard time even keeping track of the amount of rounds I’m getting into each mag trying not to go past 28 rounds. Within minutes they’re done. I have two mags left. Without missing a beat Tinker Bell and Tyler each grab one and begin topping them off.
Tyler looks at me. “Good to go?”
I nod. “I hope it’s gonna work.” I don’t want to sound apprehensive but coming down into the valley from this side is a daunting task.
“Yeah well there’s no such thing as a perfect plan except Murphy’s plan.” Mack said
“There ain’t no calvary to come to the rescue either so you guys better make it to the rally point or my ass is gonna be hanging out to dry, and I ain’t humping the 50 clicks back to base with a horde of zombies on my ass alone.” Tyler let his thin veneer begin to crack.
“We’ll be there. Let’s get moving. Just before the final drop into the valley we’ll let Tyler out and he can get into position. When we hear the explosions we’ll gun it.” Mack says repeating the plan. I’m along for the ride, literally and figuratively. I certainly aren’t going to balk at any tactics and with my back completely fucked again I’m just hoping they’ll carry my weight and not leave me behind.
If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.
Chapter 8, Part III
Mack looks up. “Yeah, here.” In his a canteen pouch on his hip he has about 10 v40 mini-frag grenades packed in there. Pulling one out and grabbing my med kit I make my way back to the U Haul. While finding a good line of sight from the Bug to the fuel tank I unzip my med kit pouch. Rummaging through I found the spool of dental floss. Carefully jamming the grenade under the grating between the side step and fuel tank I align it so the pin will pull out in the direction of the Bug making sure the spoon will fly off the grenade when the Zombies trip the line. I tie the knot on the round pin and leave the dental floss pack next to the grenade.
At the Bug, Mack is trying to start it. Tinker Bell is still acquiring targets and burning through ammo, there are shell casings littered all over the hood of the car and on the ground around her with four empty magazines. The Bug can be heard straining to crank over. Because it ran out of gas the fuel lines are probably empty and need to be primed.
“You going to get that thing running?!?” I yell. I could see him nodding through the windshield. Picking up targets Tyler is moving closer to Tinker Bell. Her suppressor is smoking and you can see the heat coming off the upper receiver.
Just then the Bug fires up coming to life. Mack gave a loud long blow of the horn. Tinker Bell rolling off the hood and gathers her empty mags in one motion. Not something you had to worry about in years past but it’s not a bad idea now to conserve assets like that nowadays.
“Get the Bug past the sedan and I’ll run this trip wire.” The Bug crept gingerly along the the shoulder past the abandoned vehicles. Turning back towards the U-Haul I step off some uneven pavement and my back gives out. Collapsing to my right knee and in intense pain I gasp for breath. The moans are louder than the sound of the Bugs engine, they’re getting closer. Using one of the bumpers I manage to get to my feet and stumble to the U-Haul. Grabbing the floss I make my way back over to the first car in the pile up. I see the tops of the heads of the Zombies coming up the road. Tying it off I make sure the floss is tight, but not piano wire tight. Carefully stepping over the wire I go back once again to the fuel tank.
This is the trickiest part. With my knife I carefully pry the ends of the safety to make the cotter pin a straight piece of wire with only the slightest of bends on one side giving it just enough tension to hold but allowing it to pull through when the zombies get there. If there’s too much of a bend in the pin the floss will just break and not trip the grenade. Making sure the whole thing is precariously balanced I peel off and try to make my way to the Bug. On the way my hip make solid contact with a quarter panel sending an explosion of pain up my spine and I drop again. This time I go all the way down landing flat on my back. I can’t move. My spine is in spasm and immobilizing me. Laying there I wonder if the blast radius will get me or will there just be a loud bang then I’ll burn to death from the cars catching on fire. As I pondered this, the sound of suppressed shots coming from the direction the Bug began to get louder.
“Are you on vacation or did you want to get back to work? Do you need a minute to take a nap? Cause I’m not sure we have that kind of time.” Opening my eyes Tinker Bell is standing over me with her hand extended.
“No, I said. I can’t get up that way. Help me roll over.” Pulling on my belt and shoulder she rolls me on to my stomach. Slowly pulling my knees under my chest and using a car as a crutch I begin to rise.
“A little quicker please.” Looking back to the horde she begins firing off some rounds. “They’re about ten meters from your trip line.”
I take a deep breath while rising, I can see the Bug just ahead. “Fuck it, let’s go.” I say wincing with pain.
“Tyler! Let’s move!” Tinker Bell yells to Tyler as he zips past us getting into the Bug. Falling into the back seat I let Tinker Bell take shotgun.
Flooring the little Bug it responds with an aggressive acceleration faster than any Bug, ever. Mack is working through the gears bouncing from second to third and back down again. The engine screams in that German sputtering as we are making our way up Decker Canyon towards the peak of the Santa Monica mountains. Thirty seconds later we hear the explosion from the mini frag go off. Looking back I can see the U-Haul explode. The truck rises into the air and lands with a crash. The fireball grows and in a chain reaction other cars in the pileup begins to catch on fire and their fuel tanks begin exploding, taking the horde of Zombies with them. Turning forward I slump down in the seat. The glow from the fire illuminates the white interior of the bug from a half mile away.