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Fiction – Ruth’s Story #21 Leaving Seattle Slowly With A Little Help From My Friends

March 8, 2012

We make decent time plowing our way north through the abandoned cars on Melrose Avenue. The impressive amount of carnage is noted as I roll along behind the snow plow. The snow plow does have to avoid the larger vehicles like delivery trucks and other heavier vehicles which justify the sudden swerves in our drunken-looking path.

The snow plow has no problem smashing to the side the average car and even most of the light trucks and passenger vans. The driver of the snow plow Rick seems fairly familiar with the streets of Seattle while weaving a trail of destruction frequently changing sides of the street to avoid larger vehicles.

We made a brief stop searching a Sparkletts bottled water delivery truck parked just north of East Pine Street. While I watched over with my POF AR15, Rick and the woman did a quick search of the delivery truck. Other looters beat us to it regrettably. All the fuel and bottles of water were long gone. A few of the large blue plastic five gallon bottles of water would have been gratifying to have. Even a few of the empty containers would have been handy to store water if we come across a source of water.

Continuing north on Melrose Avenue until we came upon the intersection between Melrose and Olive Way was fairly uneventful. Of course, I could not see much as I maintained less than a car length between myself and the snow plow.

We briefly discussed reversing and making a hard right onto Yale Avenue cutting through a fence a WSDOT barricade and a small grassy patch of dirt to come onto Olive Way. I backed my little car up to scout the area and did not like the looks of the current inhabitants. The small, narrow alley formed between the two buildings along Yale Avenue would make an excellent ambush spot. I explained as much to Rick over the radio, and we decided to bulldoze our way onto Olive Way at Melrose rather than risk the dodgy-looking Yale Avenue.

The intersection at Melrose and Olive Way was one large disaster area. It took Rick a couple attempts to push his way through the wrecked, burning and abandoned vehicles in the intersection. Thankfully he warned me that he was going to be ramming the vehicles with the plow and then backing up to do it again several times. I appreciated the warning, so he did not back over my little car.

All the commotion the snow plow made shoving vehicles and several zombies out of the way does appear to have attracted a large following of zombies. I have been watching a growing horde of zombies following in our wake as we proceeded down Melrose.

None of the zombies appears to be especially mobile and shuffle along in the classic zombie stupor made famous by so many movies. The zombies are moving as a mob and are easily distracted. Some zombies leave the mob to chase the occasional terrified domestic cat or dog that had the misfortune to cross their path.

More zombies join the slowly shuffling mob, coming from side roads and open buildings along our route. The large mob attracts the zombies who join the crowd for reasons only known to them. Occasionally we hear the crack of a high power rifle and one of the zombies will fall twitching on the asphalt.

Whoever the marksmen are they are wasting their ammo, and should conserve it until directly threatened. Shooting several times with an unsuppressed weapon reveals your position making you a target for looters and possibly cannibals, perhaps one and the same.

While I ponder morbid thoughts, Rick eventually gets the intersection cleared enough so that we can slip through the Melrose intersection to the Olive Way I5 north on-ramp. We have to mount the curb and go through a grassy tree filled triangular shaped divider though to get on the on-ramp. There was a stupid city bus blocking the on-ramp and Rick did not want to try to shove it out of the way, so the easiest thing is to go around it.

My little car did not like going over the cement curb and I scraped the underside of the car doing it. However, it was worth it as once we went through the grassy area and over the curb one more time on to the on-ramp, the Olive Way ramp was fairly clear.

Scooting down the on-ramp back on to I5 north was an immense relief. It was gratifying to put some distance between us and the zombie horde that has been following. Without the constant noise and destruction of the snow plow, I wonder if the zombies will disperse now that there is nothing to attract them?

The wind blowing on the poor souls in the bed of the snow plow looks a little chilly. I watch as the passengers try to shelter themselves from the ravages of the wind. At least it is not raining right now; I wonder how the riders in the back are prepared for wet weather.

The highway is surprising clear of vehicles and we actually make pretty decent time cruising at nearly 50 miles per hour. Passing us just before we go underneath the Lakeview Boulevard East overpass is an older beat-up white and tan Oldsmobile four door sedan with six people in it. Behind the Oldsmobile are two furry white men on extremely loud Harley Davidson chopper-style motorcycles.

I did not get a proper look at the folks in the Oldsmobile as it roared past us. The two bikers on Harleys look like your typical Hells Angel-wannabe bikers dressed in scuffed, worn black leather and faded denim with a profuse amount of facial hair, tattoos, sun glasses and bandanas.

The guys on the Harleys roar past us behind the Oldsmobile sedan. I see that the bikes are loaded with camping gear, sleeping bags and stuffed saddle bags. Both men are carrying revolvers on their right hip. One man had a pump shotgun and the other a stainless steel wood-stocked lever action rifle with an Aimpoint red dot sight mounted on a long Picatinny rail that covered a third of the top of the rifle.

The Oldsmobile and the two Harley riders quickly leave us behind, and I wonder what their rush is. We are making excellent time and surprisingly the highway northbound is wide open.

Going under the Boylston Avenue East and Lakeview Avenue East (the only reason I know this is because I am following along on the Garmin GPS in my little car) we see plenty of damage to the surrounding areas. A cloud of thick smoke hangs over the city, and it looks like the residential areas are in as worse of shape as the business areas were.

We occasionally pass wandering zombies and stopped car load of trapped zombies. There are a few cars that are still burning as we pass by, some with thrashing zombies inside. I am not sure how long the cars have been burning, but I wonder if someone in front of us is setting fire to cars full of trapped zombies. Seems like a waste to me, the zombies cannot figure how to get out of the car, so we could leave them be, and they would not be able to hurt anyone.

We make truly excellent time until we pass over Eastlake Avenue East. Rick’s voice comes over the radio telling me there is a military check point up ahead, and we slow down.

As we get closer to the ship canal bridge I see the highway is lined with military vehicles, mostly Humvees in numerous configurations. We roll slowly into a military check point at the base of the ship canal bridge.

The snow plow is checked by several soldiers dressed in current-issue gear while several M2 .50 caliber heavy machine guns, M240 7.62 NATO machine guns and M19 40mm chain fed automatic grenade launchers cover us. I see several Humvee-mounted, M134 7.62 NATO mini guns pointed south in the direction we came from.

These look like regular Army soldiers, not National Guardsmen. It looks like a hodgepodge mix of soldiers. I see several different units represented, including Airborne Paratroopers, Special Forces, and what I think is a Combat Engineering company the 555th Engineering Brigade the “Triple Nickel” which even I have heard of.

I am not familiar enough with the US Army here in Washington state to know which units are stationed here, but I see a decidedly eclectic collection of soldiers. I wonder if these soldiers have communication with the arty guys that were shelling the hospital a little south of here.

Since we have a while to wait, I dig a cigarette out of my shirt pocket and look around for the car lighter before remember that they no longer put cigarette lighters in cars anymore. Did not want to encourage people to smoke but still had to put at least three cigarette lighter outlets in this little car for all of life’s little necessary electronic junk that is so fucking useless now!

It takes me a moment to dig my Zippo lighter out of my pants pocket. I roll the window down, letting the smoke roll out the window in the crisp afternoon air. Almost 16:00 in the afternoon, and if you are out of the slight breeze, not a terrible day, it is almost hot in my little car.

I rest my arm on the window, watching the soldiers search the snow plow in front of me. I get tired of keeping my foot on the brake, so I put the car in park watching the soldiers climb over the snow plow. What they are looking for I wonder.

Eventually the soldiers seem satisfied with the snow plow and detach a young black soldier who starts walking towards me. I nonchalantly move my pistol from the passenger seat to the pocket on the driver’s door and put my two M67 grenades next to my pistol.

The young black man walks up to my driver’s door, and all I can see of him is part of his lower face. Most of his face is hidden behind his protective face shield, and I can only see the bottom of his nose, his lips and chin. Well at least he is smiling at me. I notice he has a crooked single gold bar pinned to his helmet, the sunlight glinting off the bar is a bit distracting, and I miss his first words to me.

“Huh?” I manage to blurt out distracted by the sunlight shining off the scratched gold bar on the first lieutenant’s helmet.

I hear the crunch of gravel under his knee pad as he takes a knee, kneeling beside my driver’s door. He rests his battered M4, dressed with a M26 MASS (Modular Accessory Shotgun System) 12 gauge shotgun underneath the barrel like the old school M203 grenade launcher across his bent leg.

I notice the distinct lack of an AN/PEQ-2A Target Pointer/Illuminator/Aiming Light (TPIAL), but the Aimpoint M68 Close Combat Optic (CCO) is an agreeable choice riding on top of his M4. I also notice the young soldier is both Ranger and Special Forces tabbed, wearing the distinct vertical dagger of the US Army Special Forces.

“I said Ma’am could you spare a cigarette?” the young soldier asks me again breaking my musing about his uniform.

“Oh, sure” I mumble digging my pack of cigarettes out. I fish one out and hand it to him.

“Can I bum a light?” he asks.

“Sure no problem” I tell him and hand him my Zippo which was still in my hand from lighting my own cigarette.

He lights up and takes a cheek-hollowing long drag on the cigarette while handing my Zippo back to me through the open window.

“Man that is good – thanks lady” he says. “Just you alone in this car?”

I nod my head and he takes another drag on the cigarette, still kneeling beside my driver’s door.

“Well you better get a move on; at 18:00 they are blowing all the bridges north from the city. The air strike has already been planned, and they are going to drop every bridge that heads north across any body of water. All survivors are heading north. Canada’s far northern provinces have almost no zombies, something about freezing cold kills the zombies, so everyone is heading for the Northwest Territories.”

“I notice you have a touch of the South in your voice Lieutenant, “ I tell him.

“Yes Ma’am,” he says. “Born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I doubt you know where that is.”

“Actually I do, I taught a few classes on Middle Eastern culture at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg,” I tell him. I do not tell him that, at the time, I was also surreptitiously recruiting for the Mossad, looking for Israeli-born students still loyal to their country.

“It’s a small world aint it?” he says. “Be careful of the KCAP-infected cannibals. We call them kannibals spelled with a k to distinguish them from the usual sort of cannibal. Apparently if, you eat KCAP-infected flesh, the virus does something different to your body vice getting bitten by a zombie. Not sure if the acid in the stomach protects you a little or reduces the damage, or something like that.”

He takes another drag on the cigarette, “I do not have all the particulars, but the suits from the CDC said the KCAP-infected cannibals were possibly a mutation. Other than losing all their hair, a slightly elevated body temperature, and a tendency to eat people you cannot tell them apart from other humans. However, the CDC fellas said that the kannibals (with a k) are very strong, and much quicker than your average person. The CDC was unsure of the average life span of a kannibal, or if they eventually become zombies. They’re also a little harder to kill, but the zombie standard decapitation or shooting them in the head works just fine. Back east I heard there is a religious group comprised of KCAP infected cannibals led by some jackass calling himself Messiah Barabbas. You be careful out there.”

With that he heaves himself to his feet, and waves me forward. I realize while we have been talking the snow plow has steadily inched farther away. Putting my little car in drive, I scoot up close to the rear of the snow plow mulling over what the Lieutenant told me.

I cannot actually see much around the snow plow, but as we scoot farther up the bridge, I see more soldiers and more military vehicles. Mostly Humvees, but also various heavy trucks including the old Deuce and a Halfs and the newer, lighter Unimog trucks made by Mercedes.

As get near the crest of the ship canal bridge, I see a monstrous Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) with a recovery crane and hook dragging a Seattle city bus. As we pass the city bus, I see it is full of zombies and the recently dead being feasted on by the zombies. I notice the bus is also riddled with small arms bullet holes.

I hear intermittent gun fire, and as we pass a group of soldiers who are busily tossing shot dead zombies off the bridge over the railing.

A large, heavy Army-green monster Caterpillar all-terrain forklift effortlessly lifts a car completely off the road way, drives to the side of the bridge and dumps the car and its occupants off of the bridge.

All the soldiers look bone tired and weary. The check point troops are doing the best they can letting survivors past the checkpoint and stopping the spread of zombies.

We join a long, crowded line of cars and vehicles attempting to get across the bridge. Occasionally a car ahead of us runs out of fuel and has to be pushed to the side of the road. The occupants start walking north with what goods they can carry.

An abandoned car is quickly searched by the vultures who loot anything of value. The soldiers make no attempt to stop this activity as long as the line keeps moving north. When the abandoned cars start to impede, the flow of traffic one of the numerous, heavy green Caterpillar forklifts start tossing the cars off the side of the bridge.

I hope no boaters are in the ship canal below the bridge because the soldiers are throwing cars and zombies off the bridge with alarming regularity. They are just trying to keep the flow of traffic moving but despite their best efforts traffic slows to a crawl. Those walking make better progress in some areas, prompting some to abandon their vehicle leaving it within the line where it further impedes traffic.

The fight surrounding possession of the abandoned vehicle further snarls traffic until the most vicious rat emerges as winner claiming his or her new vehicle. The new driver then attempts to get back into the line, accompanied with much middle finger waving along with a few other American obscene gestures, copious swear words mixed with creative suggestions of the likely parentage and manner of conception of all parties involved and liberal use of the horn. Whoever said that people in Seattle do not use their horn was an idiot. The whole thing makes a horrid cacophony punctuated with the occasional gun shot.

You would think that most of these people would have left already, fleeing the initial KCAP outbreak. Until now that so many waited to flee is disturbing. Of course, I am a fine one to talk, but I was stuck at SeaTac airport for almost five days.

Once we clear the ship canal bridge the traffic eases up and those cars that still have enough fuel roar off in a cloud of fumes. The now walking poor souls wander down the sides of the highway joining the churning mass of humanity.

I quickly roll my window up and make sure my doors are locked. I watch as a Good Samaritan in a large fairly new blue and white Chevy Silverado four wheel drive pickup truck pulls over to the side and offers a pretty young lady a ride. His truck is quickly surrounded by the destitute and desperate.

The young lady who was offered a ride disappears in the churning angry mob. The driver is dragged from the truck and quickly beaten to death reminiscent of white Rodney King.

A brief power struggle for the truck and some of its contents ensues, until someone produces a pistol, shooting several people causing the rest to flee as he jumps in the truck and makes good his theft and murder by driving away as quickly as he can. He leaves behind the bloody battered body of the truck’s former owner, the body of the young woman revealed when the crowd departs in panic at the gunfire, and several other wounded and maimed individuals.

I make sure my windows are fully up, my doors are locked and move my pistol and M67 grenades back to the passenger seat where they are easily accessible.

A brave soul charged my car waving a tire iron, so I waved my pistol at him and he quickly decided my car was not desirable anymore and ran the other way. The bug eyed look on his face was priceless when he realized I had rolled my passenger window down enough to take steady aim on his forehead.

Lacking glass in my rear hatch makes me nervous and I keep an eye back there in case one of these jackals tries to climb in. There are lots of desperate individuals walking along the side of the road ready to take advantage of any weakness no matter how momentary.

We have been steadily picking up speed as we get farther from the bridge and the crowd thins. Several motorcycles whip by no doubt needing to keep moving at speed or they will suffer the same fate as the hapless Silverado driver.

The faint hiss of the Motorola radio in the passenger seat is briefly interrupted when Rick’s voice comes over it to ask “So what are you plans for tonight?”

  1. BobOK permalink

    I like this story!

  2. shakes permalink

    story is picking up

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