Look of Pain

Posted: November 27, 2015 in Book I Terror in Texas

They got within a mile of the Bandera Highway interchange on 16 when they stopped to face a complete traffic stoppage. Vehicle after vehicles had lined up only to never move again.

John and Harry passed a scavenged pair of binoculars back and forth examining the continuous obstruction. Traffic had ground to a complete stop at the interchange after an accident involving a panel truck and SUV. From the bodies wondering between the vehicles it looked as if the stalled motorists were then overwhelmed by a horde of the infected. Now the monsters wondered between the lines of vehicles looking for new prey.

John wiped at the moisture on his face. “Well, this sucks.”

Harry agreed. “We won’t be getting through that. Not even on the bikes.”

Harry pulled bottled of water and energy bars from his saddlebags and passed them around.

Liz swallowed down the hint of nausea when the aroma of the warmed oats and raspberry fragrance wafted up from the open wrapper. She set her helmet on the back of the bike. “I guess we have to come up with a Plan-B.”

She folded the wrapper around the granola bar closed and slipped it back in her pocket. She leaned over and fished a map from a side pocket on the saddlebag. She sipped at the water while she studied the map for several minutes.

Frustrated at the breeze fluttering the paper, she spread the map on a nearby hood and used the bottle of water to hold down the map. She turned back to the map using her finger to trace fine lines back and forth. The smell of raspberry made her stomach roll.

Finally, she spoke up. “We’ll have to backtrack and try one of the rural roads to go around. The closest turn off is Ranchero Road. I can see a way to weave around until we get back to 98 North. There will probably be some business and residential areas, but this map doesn’t show many side roads.”

Harry let Liz trace the route for them then stepped onto his bike and buckled his helmet to the side of the bike in front of him. “Could get dicey, so ditch your helmet, John. We need to have a good field of vision.”

“Agreed.” John stowed his helmet.

Liz buckled her helmet to the curve of chrome behind the seat. She pulled a bandana from her pocket and wrapped it around her head and tying it in the back. She settled on the seat and patted Harry’s shoulder. “Ready.”

They dodged around stalled cars until they got to the next exit. They left the road and made their way back to the intersection and the remains of a minor fender bender. Through the open doors, they could see blood smeared on the inside of a Subaru. The back seat held two children’s car seats.

Liz’s hand fisted against Harry’s waist. He pressed his arm against her hand and remarked over his shoulder. “No blood on the car seats. The kids weren’t with the driver.”

Liz relaxed a bit and looked to either side of the intersection. “There’s a gas station. Should we fill up?”

John answered. “I got half a tank, but I think if we can top off.” He rolled forward through the intersection and toward the two-pump island where a small truck was parked. “We could use those gas cans in the back of that truck.”

Harry shrugged. “Let’s clear the place before we get out the hand pump.” He added over his shoulder. “Lizzy, you stay close to the bikes and watch the highway while we’re busy.”

They parked near the ground access docking covers with the bikes facing the road. The trio drew guns. Harry and John walked toward the two vehicles and the building.

Liz stood near the bikes and scanned their surroundings. She noticed a house across the street. A teenage girl stood at the window. She slapped bloodied hands against the glass.

Liz looked closer and saw a ragged bandage hanging from the side of her arm. Liz could hear the muffled thud of flesh against the double paned glass from across the street. It was obvious the teen monster was trapped. No danger, there.

She relaxed a bit and again glanced down the street and saw nothing. It was unbelievably quiet. She watched the two men clear the area and head around the side of the station. Suddenly, she heard a yelp of surprise from Harry. Liz raced toward the shriek, wondering if the two men were under attack.

“Fuck!!” John bellowed. “Who in the fuck….” As Liz rounded the corner of the building, she stopped and she teetered in surprise when she saw what had startled John. Harry stood on the opposite corner of the building staring at the site that had caused the outburst from John.

Liz looked at the monsters inside a chained linked fence enclosure. The trash dumpster had been pulled from the enclosure leaving a concrete prison with a heavy gate at the front the only access. Two infected adults and three young boys hand their fingers laced through the fencing trying to reach out at them.

The duel gates were secured with two padlocked chains. They appeared to be members of a family. A woman, a man and three boys of varying ages from pre-teen to teenager were held inside. All except the male had the same blonde hair as the young girl across the street. The man appeared to have been the most ravaged of the group.

“Who the fuck would do this?”

Liz stepped closer and saw a handwritten note inside a plastic page protector attached to the concrete wall. It read. “Please end this for them, I can’t.” A smear of blood trailed down the side of the plastic.

Tears slipped from Liz’s eyes. She stepped to the gate and raised her gun. She fired. One by one, she shot the monsters inside the enclosure.

Harry looked at Liz with a quizzical look on her face. “Why did you do that? They were no danger.”

Liz pointed to the girl across the street standing at the picture window. “They were her family. I think the man put the wife and kids inside then got bit himself. Rather than hurt the girl he made her help him go inside. That’s why he looks so bad. He was still alive when he went in there. Anyway, I image she got bit in the process and now she’s trapped in the house.”

Liz walked toward the street, but Harry grabbed her arm. “Where are you going?”

“See that she joins her family,” Liz answered.

“You don’t have to do this,” John announced. “I’ll do it.”

Liz moved her head from left to right. “I have to do this.”

“We’ll go with you,” Harry announced.

“No. I don’t need help.” Liz protested.

She walked away without looking back. She crossed the blacktop. The girl was still standing at the window. It might have been her imagination, but Liz imagined her face sad with longing for her family as she watched Liz’s approach from the gas station.

Harry and John ignored her protest and walked up behind her. Harry asked. “How are WE doing this?”

“Open the door, and lead her across the street. Then shoot her in the head.” Liz added. “When we leave we can burn the bodies.”

They followed a blood trail to the front door of the ranch-style house. The door was streaked with blood. When Harry tested the knob and it turned easily. Harry pushed it open and he called out. “Come on little girl.”

The dead girl stumbled toward the beckoning voice. When she got to the door her eyes locked on Liz.

Liz backed down the steps all the while speaking to the girl. “A few more steps and you’ll be with your mother and father and brothers….” She whispered as tears spilled from her eyes.

Without the gray pallor of death, the girl could have been a county fair queen, cheerleader, or prom date for the star football star. Even with the greasy hair and gray pallor, she was still beautiful. She wore jeans and a tank top with an oversized plaid shirt similar to the man’s. On her feet, she wore pink jogging shoes that were splattered with blood. Everything about her was heartbreakingly sad. Liz wept at the lives lost during and since the attack.

Harry and John accompanied Liz as she led the girl across the parking lot to the back of the station. Despite the gnashing teeth and out stretched arms, Liz spoke to the girl in a voice filled with sorrow and compassion. By the time they stumbled around the corner of the station, Liz was sobbing.

Without a word, Harry stepped up behind the girl and pointed the barrel of his handgun at the base of her skull. He pulled the trigger shattering the afternoon quiet.

Liz collapsed to her knees and slowly brushed the blonde hair from the girl’s face as she sobbed for the lost life.

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