Hey y'all! So this next short chapter begins Benji's and George's trip to Rough River Lake. Please know this piece has some vivid imagery, if you're into that, awesome :) Enjoy! And please feel free to leave comments and share if you enjoyed it.
I watched a gnat jump away and back towards the wind shield. The gnat was oblivious to the earth whirling past it. I enjoyed listening to the buzz of the gnat's paper like wings. It flew away from the glass and landed, creeping nearer towards Benji. It stopped for a while and crawled in circles along the glass. Benji grabbed his sports illustrated magazine and squished the gnat. All that was left of him was a small black dot the size of a pinhead.
"Petty little bastards" Benji rejoiced.
"I've got to take a leak." I mentioned after a few minutes.
We drove another two miles and pulled over. I stepped out with Sebastian at my side. When I finished I threw the knotted rope tied around my belt loop for Sebastian to chase. He found such joy in the ratted up piece of scrap. He ran back towards me with the rope and I wrestled with him for a while. We returned to the car and waited for Benji. The sun had gone behind some dark clouds and I had noticed the wind picked up a bit. I scanned the tree line and Benji emerged from between two oak trees, running from something, or someone. In panic i reached across the car and pushed the door open. He jumped in, shoved the keys in the ignition and slammed on the gas. He was so gray that you could've mistaken him for a walker.
"What the Hell Ben?!?" I shouted at him.
He remained silent. The resistance from the engine vibrated through the metal of the car, through the seat belt and tickled my ear. I squeezed the car door handle and watched the speedometer slowly sweep up past 45, 50, 55, 60, all the way to 80mph. He finally let loose of the gas pedal and we continued for another 20 miles with nothing but a lead singer singing some love song to a girl he had now long forgotten.
I spoke first.
"What did you see"?
"Don't matter now"
"Sure as Hell it does! What'd you see?"
"A girl...seven...hanging from a tree"
"There were about five guys all passed out in a tent about five feet away from the tree, must've reeked of alcohol for a hundred goddamn yards"
"Some things you can't change Be--
"There shouldn't be a need to change people's souls"
I decided not to say anything else in hopes to lighten the eeriness that we were all enveloped in.
"Where are we stopping tonight?" I asked Cautiously.
"Rough River Lake"
"Sure as I'll ever be."
I was concerned because I wasn't sure how far we'd make it before we hit a road block or even ran out of gas. We pulled over for a scheduled break so we could switch places in the car. I got out of the car and smelled something burning. Wood. I decided this was going to be a quick stop. There was a small convenience store down the road and I decided I would find something useful. When I reached the shop the windows had been busted through and the door was gone. I grabbed my flashlight from my pack and wiggled it around to draw out anything that might had been waiting for a meal. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary except for the burning smell. The store seemed to be empty except for some fishing gear and some anti-freeze. I took some cans of worms and snatched a set of hooks and some line. Sebastian was growling at something and I turned to find a walker, engulfed in flames, approaching the store from across the road. I grabbed Sebastian's collar to quiet him and hurried behind the service counter. There was a set of nature encrypted walking sticks in a box by one of the metal cabinets so I reached for one and waited. The smell of burnt human flesh almost made me sick. It made its way towards the counter and I watched, carefully plotting our escape route. I then realized I had forgotten my knife in the car...I didn't think I was going to be needing it. The walker got so close to me I could almost make out where its eye sockets had been. It leaned to the left and went down an isle. Somewhat relieved Sebastian and I made a run for the door. We reached the door only to feel a massive heat wave run across our bodies. Another walker must have came from around the building. It reached for me and I pressed the walking stick against its chest in hopes to knock it to the ground. But instead the stick slid right through its ribs and both I and the walker fell to the ground. Sebastian was barking as I crawled away with no burns other than the small ones on my face and arms.
Sebastian and I were making our way back to the car when out of no where I heard Benji screaming for help. I ran to where the screams were coming from and found Benji on the ground wrestling a flaming walker. Sebastian instinctively ran to attack and I reached for his collar but missed. Sebastian managed to push the walker off Benji but yelped when he felt the fire burning his skin and fur. Benji shot up and bolted for the station wagon as I picked up Sebastian and ran like a bat out of hell. Out of high adrenaline and fear I tossed Bash into the back seat and climbed in with him. I looked out the back window as Benji started the car and I saw seven inflamed walkers shuffling towards the station wagon. Benji slammed on the gas and I stared at the road that was in front of us. Smoke had now entered the road and I knew we might not make it out of this one.
Benji swerved to miss the dead and really flew past them any chance he had. Finally we had reached the patch of road engulfed in flames and without hesitation, Benji proceeded the route. Trees fell and I prayed they wouldn't fall into the road. What was really only five minutes seemed like an hour. Finally we reached another wall of smoke and reached a the clear road. Benji slowed down as our adrenaline lowered and our coughing stopped. That is when I really observed what damage had been done. Sebastian legs were burnt severely and his chest was a little burnt as well. He was whimpering and yelped when I tried to touch his burns. My face stung and my arms were numb. Benji's arms were much worse than mine. Pieces of burnt human flesh fell from his elbows and blood trickled down his forearm. He had lost most of his shirt and his chest was badly burnt. He didn't remove his hands in fear of losing more skin. Tears ran down his cheeks and stung his open wounds. I told him we would switch after I had wrapped Bash and I up. I rubbed after burn gel on all of the burns on Sebastian and myself and wrapped the bandages around our burnt flesh. This was all I could do at the time.
We pulled over and Benji lifted his hands off the steering wheel and screamed as skin peeled from his hands. I quickly wrapped my t-shirt around the wheel and switched places with him and he dressed his own wounds. Tears still ran down his cheeks and eventually he passed out from the pain. I knew of a cabin realty near where we were and knew we would have to stop. It was only twenty miles from Rough River Lake.
We passed a large cabin on the road and I decided to stop before sun down so I didn't have to turn on my headlights. I checked inside and everything was clear. I carried Benji inside and laid him down on and old couch that probably had mites. I then carried Sebastian inside and then got all the packs inside. I knew this wasn't going to be a one-nighter. Once I got everything inside I thanked God for the boarded windows that blocked the light and moved everyone and everything up the stairs. I lit a small kerosene lantern and set up our cots. I layed Sebastian down on mine and Benji on his own.
I began prepping my supplies and couldn't help but think to myself, what a lesson learned.