When my niece screamed, I knew we had an uninvited hitchhiker. She was sitting in one of the pull-down jump seats of my 1998 Chevy S-10 Extended Cab so she was in a great position to monitor our six. That, and she’s seen a lot, so she doesn’t scream unless we’ve got real trouble. At thirteen she fits in those jump seats really well, though any small-ish adult is comfortable back there. It works nice to have someone facing sideways who can keep an eye out for just a situation like this. The zombie must have managed to get a handhold before we took off and was now climbing over the tailgate on his way into the bed of our truck, hence the scream.
I just smiled. I knew we weren’t in any danger in the cab and moving. I wasn’t going to give the Z a chance to break the glass and get to us. I goosed the gas and spun the wheel just enough to fishtail and make it extremely tough on our friend who had just made it to his feet in the bed of the truck. Zombies have the misfortune of horrible coordination and this guy was no different. He fell spectacularly and his head nailed the side rail, launching a spray of brain and blood against the rear window. My niece only squeaked this time, she wasn’t squeamish at all, it just surprised her. I was just silently congratulating myself on not opting for the sliding rear window when I bought the truck. The solid piece of glass didn’t have gaskets that could leak Z fluids, read infection, into the cab.
I re-focused on the road and checked the gas gauge. We had plenty. You never wanted to be caught out in the open with no ‘go juice.’ The truck had a 4.3 liter V6 engine which gave it just the right balance of boogie and fuel economy and made it the best truck ever for evading zombies. The six foot bed was great for the big supplies and the extended cab made it easy to store either extra gear or the occasional wing-man, i.e. my niece who was now reloading her .22 pistol.
We had gone out that day on surveillance. After the Zombie Uprising of 2012, the rest of humanity now needed to know how much land we still controlled. I pulled the Z cd out of the player. The stock stereo system in my truck was so good that when we were on patrol we would play recorded zombie moans in order to draw out any that happened to be in the area. They are basic pack hunters and will converge on the location of any other zombies who have located prey. They communicate through their moans. I hate the cd. I hear the moaning in my dreams. We all do now, but I do my job.
We had located a pack of about twelve that day and had dispatched seven including the one hanging half out of my poor splattered truck. I pulled into the checkpoint and jumped out. For being fourteen years old and spending most of her early years rolling over salty Michigan winter roads, my truck had surprisingly little rust. This great bit of news would make cleaning and disinfection much easier. Rust holds onto brain matter like glue.