book 9: "Yell Fire part 2: Diagnostics"

        Karl immediately ducked down when he saw the car slide by. He knew it was not THE one but it still demanded his rapt attention. His normally cloudy eyes were sharp and somehow brighter as they followed the vehicle’s progress down the road and turn onto Pine Boulevard. Presently, the car was gone and he released his captive breath. 

               He had been crouching behind the fallen Pillar for a few minutes, give or take. Felt like hours, of course.  He could hear the blood throbbing and pulsing its way from his heart to his brain, and then back again. It seemed way too loud, all encompassing. deafening. 

It was not doing wonders for his anxiety. 

               Too long man, get moving. 

               He tried to stand up but instead fell back down into a crouch and lost control of his breathing. Short quick bursts were the only way his lungs could function apparently. All of the sudden he lost it. A sneeze burst from his nose and mouth in a rather vicious manner, expelling fluid everywhere. He became vaguely aware that the noises he was making would certainly attract interest and he opened his eyes again and…

was doing it wrong. 

 “CUT!” came the call. 

Karl’s eyes closed and he bowed his head, preparing for “notes”.  Despare loved giving notes. 

He waited. After a minute, Karl looked up to observe what the hold up was. He saw that Despare was still a little way off, wearing his “good job, almost had it face”. He could also tell that Despare was trying not to look as if the walk was bothering him. A stifled wince on every other downbeat was his tell. 

Everyone had a tell, Karl believed. He was not much of a gambler but felt that the concept applied pretty universally. that no matter what, it was our natural inclination to always, well, tell the truth. It was his approach to life and to his craft, which up till now did not include acting. I mean, how could you get more dishonest than acting? 

“Karl,” smiled Despare holding out his hands. 

 Karl knew what he was going to say and mouthed it in his head. 

“wonderful, wonderful performance but.. 

               Despare,a man as used to reading ques as giving them, abruptly shut his mouth. 

                              He straightened, and began again 

               “Karl, have you considered the implications what we are doing?” 

               Karl blinked. He knew this part by heart too. 

               “it is the homage to the very first media sensation of the 20th century, yes.  But it also is so, so much more. It is… "   he trailed off. 

“Good god man, are you bleeding?” 

               Karl wiped his nose and found that he was. 

               “Oh shit, I get allergies bad as hell this time of year I, uh.” 

His speech was suddenly cut off by a violent sneeze, plucked from the ether and placed in his mouth, interrupting his discourse. 

“ WAKUM !WACHOO!,” he said. 

               “ oh Karl, get outta here man,” Despare said. 

               “you have got to go by wardrobe now, you have got blood all over the front of you, man…” 

               Karl looked down and received visual confirmation of his director’s lamentation. He indeed had blood on his shirt. 

               “ Um,” said Karl. He wiped his nose and walked away. 

               Patrick Despare turned to his crew and raised his hands. 

               “Allright People! EVERYONE, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! ,” He bellowed. 

               The crew turned their attention to him, at least partially. 

               “ ALL DONE FOR NOW. MEET BACK IN TWENTY.” He said and lowered his hands. 

               “ Why does he always shout like that?” said the gaffer to the sound engineer. 

               “Bro, I know,” the engineer shook his head. 

               “its all caps, 24/7 with this guy.” 

               “ I mean, there is five of us. He addresses the whole county every time he wants to talk to us,” 

               He laughed and pulled at his cigarette. 

               “that’s Pat though man, always looking to affect everyone.” Said the engineer. 

              “He will too, one day” 

               As they walked away, Despare looked on toward the horizon. After a moment, he smiled. 

 

                ***

Dewayne had had it. That is all there was to it. No more excuses. If and butts be damned. He was going to tell Roger that he was going to the police. He wiped at his nose again and rubbed his hands on his pants. He was going to march outside and tell Roger that this looting shit was over and that he… 

He heard a sound. 

Dewayne stopped and stood still as his blood froze him in place. 

He tried to control his breathing but his breathing thought otherwise. 

Dewayne tried to roll his eyes back to the source of the sound and investigate peripherally.  As he strained, a big drop of sweat made its way into his left eye. 

He blinked it out, and thought he heard the noise again. His breathe caught. 

It was on the far side of the hall, not from the living area that they had gotten rid of the dead ones. They had looked in there but hadn’t found anything. Could these things hide? That didn’t seem to add up too much in his op… 

CREAAAAAK 

That was an extremely persuasive sound, and it gave Dewayne the urge to flee. Dewayne obliged this impulse and he was out through the sliding glass doors into the sunshine. He had to find Roger, tell him he was done. Get the hell away from any and all creatures. Let’s see what it is like at the edge of town. All of these thoughts fell out of his head as he ran straight into Roger and was knocked on his ass. 

“Woof,” he said. 

“Get Up,” said Roger. 

He started to do just that, but a thought occurred to him as he tried to get up that made him pause. 

“Roger?” 

“I said get up.” 

“What have you got that for?,” asked Dewayne. 

 He was referring to the shovel his partner had in his hands. 

“I reckon i'm gonna kill you wit it,” said Roger. 

Dewayne smiled, uneasily but still pleasant in recognition. 

“Sling Blade, nice. But man, we gotta get! There is something else in there,” he began. 

“Jesus Christ,” said Roger. He was looking at Dewayne with pity and disgust. 

“just look at yourself, Dewayne” 

Dewayne did for the first time in awhile, perhaps all day, and gasped. The front of his shirt was smeary with blood, especially where he had been rubbing his hands. 

Holy shit. As he realized the implication’s his hands shot to his nose and began to feel around. 

No, no, no, no 

Roger sighed. 

“That’s right, D. Im sorry but you’ve got to go.” 

Dewayne’s eyes widened as Roger lifted the shovel. When the sound began he thought it was a mystical predeath noise that everyone must hear in these situations. A little bit of mysticism to even out a life of confusion. It sounded an awful lot like a motor, and that would make sense as he had been a car nut his whole life. Maybe when you died the last thing you heard or saw was something you love. In that sense, Dewayne was right. The Ford F150 came crashing through the back gate and smashed Dewayne underneath its grill. As he died, he didn’t quite know what had killed him; the symbol of something he had always loved or his best friend with a shovel. 

*** 

               The sound was everywhere, all around her, possibly emanating from inside her for all she knew.  It was high and shrill like the hiss of a kettle past due.  Except this kettle hadn’t decided if it was ready to pour or not. It seemed it wanted, and wanted her, to stay right where she was. She certainly could not figure out how to make any change to her current situation. Eventually, she realized her eyes were open.  A world was trying to etch itself upon her field of vision.  It was a canvas of grey with white flakes floating and travelling in slow motion to nowhere in particular. It seemed to scream traction. She tried to swallow and realized she couldn’t. She choked. 

And sat up. The dizziness that accumulated as she sat up from her head back position made her instantly nauseous. She almost vomited as she ran into the air bag. It must have deployed during… the crash. 

Oh 

That brought the world back. She knew where she was. She was in her truck, and she had been in an accident… 

She suddenly jerked her head left to right in a grand spasmodic gesture. Her desire to see everything in panorama was intense and surface felt. Adrenaline had erased any discombobulation she was feeling. She knew one thing and one thing only: 

FEAR. 

“AHHH! AHHH! Ugh! AHHH!,” she said. 

She sucked in air, and thrashed about. 

“AHHH. AHHH. AHHH,” she began, and then the tears came. 

Her face turned in on itself as she let the wave of grief overcome her. 

She sobbed. She shook. She sneezed. 

She was almost in time to catch the last action with her hand but not quite. Her expectoration hit the steering wheel with a splat. 

She opened her eyes and saw red. 

Her eyes widened and both of her hands went to her mouth. 

  It was true then. She had IT. 

With her hands still over mouth, she squeezed her eyes shut, let out breath, and opened them again. 

Her reality had not changed. 

She was fucked. 

She knew there was no coming back from this, Everybody knew that. 

Nothing left to do but lay down and be 

Undead. 

She started to cry again and then hit herself in the face. 

Three times she repeated this exercise. 

WHAP!  WHAP! WHAP!. 

She breathed. She pursed her lips. She narrowed her eyes. 

Ok so it is over. It is over... 

What do I do now? 

With some effort, she pulled and pushed the airbag down so that she could see what she had plowed into. 

She cautiously looked out the windshield at the man laying on the hood. He was face down, thankfully. The blood leaving his body had started to pool out and around him. She could see some still dripping out around one of the curls in his hair. 

She winced as her stomach turned over. She thought she would be sick again, but she did not turn away from the site of the corpse. As she stared, the sensation in her stomach changed to something one she knew but couldn’t quite place. 

All that blood, she thought. 

That’s all that is left of us. 

Her stomach growled. 

She did indeed know this feeling. 

She was hungry. 

               

               The truck door came open a lot easier than she expected. So much so that it took her by surprise and she stumbled out onto the ground.  Although she landed on her face almost entirely, there was very little pain. 

Of course not, dummy. You are dead. 

She still could feel her heart beating though and could taste her ragged breath reaching out for substance. How weird to have the contradiction be so physical… She felt as if she was wearing a Halloween mask of sanity on top of her very real state of bat shit crazy. Her head ached with every beat of her heart. 

God this hurts. I've got to eat something. 

She knew what she was supposed to eat, but she didn’t think she could bring herself to it. 

Her eyes turned back to the body laying on the truck. She staggered over to it. She had begun to salivate. She knew she shouldn’t do this, that it was inherently wrong because she was told it was wrong her whole life. Although hadn’t she read something or seen a movie about how eating human flesh would transfer that person’s energy to you? She couldn’t remember. She had been having quite a terrible day. She reached out over to the dead man and grabbed his arm. She looked on toward the horizon as she put his hand in her mouth. 

Then, a bullet blew her mind out of the back of her head and she fell back wards into the dirt. 

She no longer worried about her appetite. 

*** 

               The barrel bucked in her hand and caused her to stumble a little in the dirt. 

Shit, that was loud. She ducked back into the house, a little left of the door that she had been standing, She stood there breathing, waiting for her pulse to come back in to a normal range. 

She had hit the thing, right in the head. That was the positive thing.  The problem now was the aftermath. Was the shot going to draw more of them to the house? 

Anne did not know and she didn’t have much to say one way or the other. She barely had the breath in the room to keep awake.  She could NOT breathe right. 

She had been hiding in the second bathroom all morning.  She had come in late, or extremely early rather. She had seen Sam asleep on the couch, and as weird as that was, she proceeded to the bathroom because she HAD to go. She had just finished up when she heard the doorbell, gunshot, and subsequent horror unfold.  She had been an unwilling auditory witness to the entire morning’s proceeding.  She had been biding her time until she could go to her room and grab her gun. Once the hillbilly raiders left, she would be able to. It was as soon as she heard them go to the back yard that she risked opening the door. Of course it creaked and cracked ridiculously. She hid a little longer then, waiting to hear if any other noise would happen. And still she had come out to…. This. 

               As her breath finally came back to normal, she began considering her next move. To her the most logical move would be to figure out a way to communicate with someone on the outside Her phone had given some clues before everything went out. Headlines were scrambled and fighting over one another for control of the stream. 

“Terrorist strike imminent for small town,” 

“it came from space to turn us around” 

BBC.gov had said : 

“hay fever ramps up with troubling symptoms as terror at widespread communicability mounts” 

“the infection may cause ravenous..” 

Just then, he pounced on her. 

“AAAUGH,” she screamed and raised the gun. 

“No, No, No, don’t shoot!  Roger screamed and raised his hands to show that he was not armed. 

“why not?” she asked back. “I saw what you did to my friends.  Tried to do to YOUR frend” 

“And I saw what you did to that lady just now. Yer a hell of a shot.” 

“Get the fuck back!,” she screamed and advanced toward him gun drawn. 

“Easy, easy” he said. 

 Hand still raised, he backed up a few steps and spoke softly. 

“I think we can help each other,” he continued. 

She eyed him and considered, never taking the gun off him. 

She then used one hand to reach into her pocket. 

She brought it back out and produced a white polycloth that she kept for cleaning her eyeglasses. 

She tossed it to him using her the same hand. 

“Blow your nose into this,” She said. 

Roger caught the tissue with one hand and kept the other in the air. He kept his eyes on her while bringing the cloth to his noise. He blew. 

“ Now unfold it,” she said. 

“Ok, ok. Can I put my other hand down?” 

“Slowly,” she said. 

He brought his other hand down and used it to unfurl the cloth. He let his eyes drop down to the contents and let out his breathe. 

“Show it to me,” she said. 

He looked at her and nodded. He turned the tissue around to show her what he had blown from his noise. 

It was wet with snot and there were a few pieces of random detritus in there. 

“Ohm, thank god, “ she said and brought the gun down. 

“ Where do we go from here?” 

“Let’s try getting out,” he said. 

As if on cue, a wail came from behind them. A more perfect catalyst to move would be hard to find. 

WeeeeeeEEEEEEAAAAHAHHHAAAhhh 

They looked at each other, each seeing the terror burgeoning on each other’s face. 

“… what,” he breathed. 

“Let’s GO!, “ she said. 

They ran.

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