It’s a real pretty day. Spring is in full bloom, maybe sixty-five degrees,
not a cloud in the sky. The trees have greened up right nice and
everything is coming to life. Reminds me of when I was a kid back in
Hawkins County, just before school let out for the year. The sort of day
makes you want to ride in a convertible or work in the yard.
Much too pretty of a day to be sitting on the floor eating stale crackers.
No birds singing, though. Hell, I don’t blame them. Not all that much to
sing about on my end, pretty day or not. I guess resignation has set in. I’
m fucked. Proper fucked. After two and a half years of running and
fighting, it’s over. Shy of one finger, less a wife, missing half my teeth
and trapped…Fucked. I do miss the birds, though.
I used to love Gatlinburg when I was kid. My folks brought me here all
the time when I was a kid. We didn’t live but an hour away so it was an
easy trip through nice country. They’d load us kids up and we’d spend
the day, miniature golf, cotton candy, shopping. Can’t do that anymore,
the place was looted to shit and back.
I don’t see anything alive.
Dead’s another story.
There was only one of them as I can into town. He had on a cook’s
smock and was walking down the sidewalk, kind of listing to port. Older
guy, like me, much the worse for wear. He’d been big, before, but was
wasted looking, like they get. He had all his appendages which was a
plus. I hate it when they grab at you with missing hands or crawl on
I met him head on. One lick from my camp ax did him. All in all, not too
bad. I’d been swarmed more than once.
You can only camp for so long and then you have to come looking.
Looking for food, medicine, any supplies left. I’d been in the hills the six
weeks, near about. By myself, no game, no company. It’s hard to find
animals even this far up. It‘s like they knew when to get out of Dodge,
and beat us to it. You can see their signs, sometimes hear them, but not
ever run across them.
I was running out of everything, near starving. But, the worst part is lack
of ammo, sixteen rounds remaining for my rifle. No choice but to forage
The police station was ransacked. Empty, at least. Same story with the
Save-All drugstore. Plenty of T-shirts and plastic souvenirs, no food.
The trip was shaping up like a bust. Survivors like me had swept through
and cleaned the place out. Wasn’t easy, either, judging from the
corpses. Had to be over thirty corpses out in the open, bundles of rages
and bones. Gatlinburg wasn’t shaping up as an answer to my lack of
Nothing for me to do but keep poking around, had to be something left.
After an hour I thought about calling it a day. I’d found one pack of beef
jerky and a box of crackers. No rounds for the rifle, no antibiotics and no
one alive. Not that it was unexpected, I hadn’t seen a soul, alive, since
That’s why the Boar Pen Saloon made me jump for joy. It had its security
gate down and locked. A quick check around the rear showed the back
door was still secure and all of its windows were unbroken. Undisturbed.
Pristine. A Godsend.
The place said “Cold Beer”, “BBQ”, “Best Pies in Town” and it was
untouched. All I had to do was get in
The finger and my wife were the first things to go, the teeth came later.
In fact, I lost the finger on the same day as my wife. She’d gone out back
to the garden to get some tomatoes for Sunday supper. I was laid up on
the coach watching a Braves game. The last thing she said to me was,
“Honey, you’re going to have to re-stake those plants.”
On my way to the fridge to get another beer, I glanced out the kitchen
window. There was my wife rolling around on the ground with Susan
DeBois from next door. By the time I got to them, Susan had torn my wife’
s throat out with her teeth.
Then she came for me, charging like a fullback, bloody mouth and all.
That one hundred pound woman knocked me slap into the pole beans
and started snapping at my face. That’s how I lost my finger; she bit it,
clean to the bone on the second digit.
By the time I got her off of me, my wife was getting up. I had Susan
pined to the garden dirt with a shovel when I was hit again, in the back,
by my wife. Both of them snarling, snapping and clawing at me. The
shovel did the trick. That’s how I learned about head licks, puts them
down, for good.
The finger was a problem. It didn’t take me long to realize what was
happening and what a bite meant. I cut off my left ring finger at the first
joint with a kitchen knife and the burned the stub over the gas flame on
the stove. Some say amputation won’t work. It did for me.
Poor diet and lack of oral hygiene, plain and simple, took my teeth.
Over time I started to avoid towns, not always the healthiest places.
The dead aren’t the only things that eat people. With livestock gone and
few farmers left among us, food became more and more precious. You
could buy a girl for a can of beans. Lack of protein in the diet was killing
folks. Still, you wanted companionship, someone to talk to, a bit of
news. Sometimes you had to go to settlements.
Shit, I couldn’t show my face in Knoxville, their Baron had seen to
that. Maybe a thousand folks left, holed up, sitting on food and a few
guns, under siege beginning in the Spring until late fall. I’d spent four
days there, right before the leaves fell last. They’d welcomed me at first,
real friendly like. Said they could always use another gun. That was
before our little dispute. I didn’t want to swap my AR-15 for a lever action .
22. The Baron, a fellow named Bledsoe, had no since of humor about it.
Wouldn’t see reason. They tried to take it. I split. Better part of valor
I wonder if they called him lefty, now. My camp ax is real handy to
Others had tried to break in to the bar. The gate’s lock showed signs of
being pounded by something. It was deformed and scratched, but still
held. Of course, a ball peen hammer and chisel can work magic. Just
happened to have both in my backpack.
It pays to be prepared.
Six good whacks and the lock sprung free. The gate started rolling up,
immediately, and I grabbed my gear. Unfortunately, I wasn’t counting on
the battery-powered alarm. It was a hell of a racket until I knocked it down
with the hammer. That was problem number one.
Problem number two was the interior. Once the gate was up I could see
the barricade behind the glass doors. Barricades meant people went in
and didn’t come out. If they didn’t come out, it meant they’d turned. The
alarm riled them up, shadows were already moving around. I wasn’t about
to go in..
I also wasn’t going out. By the time I knocked out the alarm and pulled
down the gate there were at least forty of the dearly departed outside.
Caught between a rock and a hard place.
So here I sit, munching on the crackers and beef jerky, drinking my
There’s over a hundred of them now, inside and out, with me in the
middle. You could think of it as a race. Will they figure out the gate or
glass doors first? And me with sixteen rounds.