We were in the middle of the parking lot when I saw them. Two zombies shuffling out from between a couple of buildings to the north. I touched Andy’s arm and pointed. He stopped and look at me.
“What do we do?” he asked.
I put a finger over my lips. Maybe we weren’t close enough for them to hear but I didn’t want to take the chance. I looked back at the superstore. We were more than half way across the parking lot. I looked at the two figures. One was about my height with short hair the other was shorter and had long hair. A man and a woman probably. They were angling in our direction.
Could we make a run for the store? Maybe we could walk back to the nearest car and hide. Or we could fight them. I didn’t want to fight them. I looked at Andy and motioned toward the store. I began walking slowly, sideways so I could keep an eye on the two zombies. I heard a thump and Andy grunting. I turned to see Andy half sprawled on the hood of a car. He lifted himself off the hood, which popped back out with another thump. I turned back to the zombies in time to see them turn toward us and begin running in our direction.
“Fuck,” I said while pulling out my bat. I glanced at Andy; he had his machete out. Looking back at the zombies I saw them begin to pick up speed as they got closer. They had really seen us now and wanted to kill us because of whatever impulse was left in their brains. The man was in the lead and headed for me. I lifted my bat ready to swing as soon as he-it got close enough. It raised one fist in the air and tried to bring it down on on my head. I swung snapping its head to one side and its upper body followed. It barely broke stride and I had to twist and jump back to avoid being run over.
I began to fall as I backpedaled. The zombie had run past me but was quickly turning around. I managed to catch myself from completely falling. As my weight came to bear, my foot folded to the side and I felt a sharp pain through my ankle. I looked up. The zombie was coming back at me. I fell to the ground and rolled away from the zombie’s path. And away from my dropped bat.
He turned quicker this time from not having as much speed. I rolled into a kneel and forced myself to stand. My right ankle protested with bursts of pain so I put most of my weight on my left. I pulled my machete out of its sheath. As the zombie made its third run at me I looked into the blank expression of his face and I swung for his neck. The blade bit into his neck and stopped. The zombie swung a fist down at my head. I leaned right and it impacted on my left shoulder. I yelled in pain as I steadied myself. I yanked the machete out of its neck and swung again, this time remembering not to stop and to swing past my target. The blade bit deeper as it raised its other fist again before suddenly collapsing at my feet.
“Hey can I get a little help here?” Andy called out. I turned around to see Andy pinning the woman zombie to the ground by laying on top of it. He reached for his machete laying a few feet away and the zombie started to get up so he had to return to holding it down. If my shoulder and ankle hadn’t hurt so much I might have laughed. Instead I jerked my machete out of my zombie’s neck, almost finishing decapitating it, and hobbled over to Andy.
I circled the two until the zombie’s head was on my right and Andy was on my left. He was holding its arms in a bear hug. I knelt near its head. “Can you scoot down a little? I don’t’ want to hit you on accident,” I said. Andy wiggled and moved a foot down, enough for me to feel comfortable swinging a machete this close to him. I raised my machete and brought it down in an angle away from Andy. It bit into the zombie’s neck but it kept moving. I pulled the machete out and swung again. And a third time before it finally went limp.
“Oh my god, oh my god,” Andy said panicking now that the danger had past.
I sat down on the parking lot pavement. I pulled off my shoe and sock and pushed my jean leg up to inspect my ankle. It didn’t look too bad. It was throbbing and tender to the touch but there wasn’t much swelling. Maybe I hadn’t sprained it too badly.
Andy noticed my self check.”Hey you ok?” he asked kneeling down next to me.
“Yeah, I rolled my ankle a little. I don’t think it’s too bad.
“Let me see,” he said while carefully taking my leg in hand. He looked it over. “No major bruising or swelling. You should ice it just to be sure and stay off it for the rest of the day.”
“Where am I supposed to get ice? How am I going to stay off it for the rest of the day? I have to get home somehow,” I said.
Andy smiled, “Instant ice packs.”
“Instant ice packs. They’re like hand warmers but they get cold instead of hot.”
“What’s a hand warmer?” I asked.
“It’s a little plastic pouch with something inside and when you crack it it gets hot. You keep them in your pockets when it gets below freezing.”
“This is South Texas. It doesn’t get below freezing and if it does the city shuts down, so no one has any reason to go outside,” I said.
“Never mind that. There are instant ice packs in the store.”
“Ok help me up.”
“I don’t think you should stand up,” he said.
“I really don’t want to be out here if another zombie walks by,” I said.
“Ah, right,” he said. He helped me stand up and supported me on the walk back to the superstore. Once inside I sat on on of the benches near the doors. Andy insisted I elevate my foot before he ran off to find the ice packs.
A few minutes later he returned with a hand basket full of stuff. The ice packs, ace bandages, ankle braces, icy hot pads, pain relievers, gauze, bandaids, and antibiotic gel.
“What’s with the bandaids?” I asked. He was already snapping the ice packs and putting them on my ankle.
“Um, your elbow,” he said pointing. Looking where he was pointing, I saw my elbow was scraped and bleeding.
“Oh, didn’t even feel it. Fuck, I hate when that happens,” I said. He began cleaning the scrap and applying a bandaid.
“Ok you hurt any where else?”
“I got hit in the shoulder. Right here,” I said pointing to the top part of my shoulder.
“Can you move your arm?” he asked.
I moved it up down and in a small circle. “Yeah, feels a little stiff and it aches.”
He moved sat down next to me gently probing the area. “I feel a little swelling. You’re probably going to have a bruise but I don’t think it’s broken. It’s kind of hard to tell through your shirt.”
“Ah I’m not taking my shirt off for you,” I said frowning.
“I- I didn’t mean- That’s not-” he said standing up, “I wasn’t trying to get you undressed. I just can’t tell how bad it is through your t-shirt. Really I didn’t mean it like that.” His face was red. I wasn’t actually angry or upset. I had almost been joking and now seeing his overreaction I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Ha! Ok Romeo. Um,” I thought for a second, “Go to the woman’s section and find me a tank top or something sleeveless. Size xtra-large.”
“Um ok,” he said running off. He came back a few minutes later with a small selection of tops. I picked out a long black tank top.
“Turn around and no peeking,” I said. Once I was certain that he wasn’t looking, I began puling off my t-shirt. It was a little difficult due to my shoulder but I managed by slipping my opposite arm inside pulling the shirt over my head and down my injured arm. The tank top was much easier to put on. “Ok you can turn around now.”
Andy sat back down to examine my shoulder. It was definitely bruised. Red and the beginning of purple bloomed there. He pulled out another ice pack, cracked it, and put it on my shoulder.
“So how long do I have to sit here doc?” I asked.
“Fifteen to thirty minutes. Then I guess we can see about getting you home or something,” he said.
“How do you know so much about sprained ankles?”
“I played soccer when I was kid. Sprained my ankles a few times. Broke my arm once. Not playing soccer. I fell off the roof,” he said.
“You fell off a roof?”
“Yeah putting up Christmas lights,” he said starting to laugh. “You’ve never sprained your ankle or broken anything?”
“No I wasn’t a very athletic kid, still aren’t, which is probably why I sprained my ankle. What happened with your zombie? Why were you wrestling with it?”
“She- it was running right for me and I had my machete ready and I hesitated. It still looked like a girl; you know? I wasn’t sure for a second and she ran right into me. I was falling and I grabbed her. Took her down with me and rolled over on top of her. I really messed up, didn’t I?”
“I messed up too. I wasn’t ready for how fast these things move. The one I killed the other day was slower because it was missing a foot. I almost got knocked down too. I tried using my bat first. It knocked the zombie away from me but not enough. I fucked up my ankle jumping out of the way.”
“The machete worked good though?” Andy asked.
“Yeah, it worked a lot better than trying to bash their heads in. The bat is a good first strike weapon to slow them down and redirect them but the machete is a faster kill.”
“Bat in one hand, machete in the other?” he suggested.
“I don’t know. I don’t know how hard I can swing a bat one handed,” I said. I would have to experiment to see if it was a viable strategy.