The Human Potential
Home, Sweet, Home
Jason took a deep breath. He knew he needed to stay strong so the women didn’t panic. It didn’t matter that this was far stranger than anything he’d ever seen. “Let’s get you patched up and then we’ll get somewhere safe so we can sort things out. You said there were first aid supplies in the bag?”
Erica pulled the first aid kit from the backpack with shaking hands. “I know a little bit about bandaging,” Hailey said. “Let me do it.”
“But you’re injured. I’ll clean the wound, you just tell me what to do,” Erica replied authoritatively.
Jason stepped over the creature and into the bathroom. “There’s another backpack here. Looks the same as the other one.”
He picked it up and brought it out. They rummaged through the bag. It had mostly the same things with the addition of a radio scanner. Hailey looked pale, but calmer after she’d been bandaged. “Okay, we should probably try to get to one of our houses. That way we can have a safe place to stay for the night until we figure out what’s going on.”
“I live on 17th and Slide,” Jason said. “It’s only a few blocks from here.”
“We can see if any of those cars start up and take one of them,” Dale added.
“Cars?” Hailey asked blankly.
“Oh, yes. Things are even worse than you think,” Dale said. “Come and see.”
They walked in a cluster to the front of the building where an office would normally be. Jason glanced out the windows. “My truck isn’t there. What’s going on?”
“I don’t know.”
Dale stood beside him and looked outside. There were several cars sitting in the road, seemingly abandoned. There were no people in sight. Everything looked rundown. The fences around backyards were falling apart. Windows had been shattered. Buildings were faded and in disrepair. “I don’t know where we are, but nothing’s right,” Jason grumbled.
They all stepped outside the garage. Everything looked fine, but the lack of sound was eerie. “There aren’t even any birds,” Erica shuddered.
“I’ll run over to the cars and try them then you can get in when I find one that works,” Dale said.
Hailey grabbed his arm. “Oh, no, you don’t! You saw what happened last time we separated. I got attacked by one of those things and now I’ve got gashes in my arm. We go together.”
Jason nodded. “Safer that way.”
Dale shrugged. “Whatever. I am fast, though.”
They walked together to the cars. The first didn’t have a key. The second car didn’t make any noise when the key was turned. “These cars have been abandoned for a long time,” Jason frowned. “My house is close. Let’s just walk…carefully.”
Jason led the way and they tried to stay hidden by trees and cars. They didn’t see anything and soon arrived at Jason’s house. Jason froze in the street. “That’s not my truck,” he said indignantly.
A silver Chevrolet truck sat in the driveway. “I only drive Ford,” he added.
“Okay…so, your truck is different. Do you have your house key?”
Jason reached in his pocket then glanced down and remembered he was wearing scrubs. He sighed and picked up a rock on the porch that hid his spare key. “Let’s go inside and—”
Jason’s jaw dropped and he held his machete ready. “Uh, guys…I think I’m a zombie.”
Standing in front of him was himself…except very dead and decaying. Zombie Jason swung his arm at Jason and Jason shook himself then swung the machete. Dale jumped up with the pipe he had liberated from the garage and hit Zombie Jason soundly in the head. “So, you won’t be upset if we kill you?” Dale asked.
Hailey cocked her gun. “I don’t want to waste the ammo, but I don’t want any of you to get hurt by this thing…”
“Eh, I’m already dead, so I guess I won’t get upset,” Jason said, slicing what would’ve been a crucial artery if the thing had arteries.
As it swung for Jason’s head, a shot rang from Hailey’s gun. Zombie Jason collapsed to the ground. “Let’s get inside,” Hailey said urgently.
While Hailey closed the door, Jason stopped again in the living room. Sitting on a coffee table, which was not the coffee table he owned, was a picture frame. He was in the picture with a woman and two preschool age children. “Uh oh.”
“What’s wrong?” Erica asked.
“Zombie Jason is married.”
A woman zombie and two children zombies shuffled from the hallway. Erica gripped her wrench tighter. Dale twisted the pipe in his hands. Jason glared at the picture on the coffee table. Nothing had gone as planned this day, ever since they had been transported into this…whatever it was. He heard Hailey cock her gun. Everyone’s faces were tense and grim. Erica took in a deep breath and let it out slowly before swinging her wrench at one of the child zombies. “It’s not alive,” she muttered.
Jason nodded in silent agreement before swinging his machete towards the woman zombie. Dale joined him and Hailey fired a shot. Erica ducked the swipe of the child zombie. The other one fell on the floor. Dale cracked the zombie soundly but it was still in action. Suddenly, one of the children zombies went up in flames. Jason’s eyes widened. “What was that?”
“Um…I don’t know…” Erica stammered.
Hailey came forward with a hatchet and started attacking. “Who exploded?”
“I think maybe I did something,” Erica said, staring intently at the zombies.
She dropped her wrench and Jason yelled, “It’s not that desperate, Erica! Keep fighting!”
A spark appeared on the carpet before going out. “I think I can fight them with fire! I think this is what Dr. Stone did!”
The child zombie went up in flames again before dropping to the floor. Artemis ran up and bit the other child zombie, dragging it to the ground. While the entire battle had seemed like hours, it had really only been minutes. “So much for this being a safe place,” Jason groaned.
“So, what exactly did you do?” Dale asked.
“Guys, we’re not safe yet,” Hailey said, pointing to the window.
One zombie knocked the door down and another walked inside. Erica immediately focused on one of the zombies, but missed and ignited a spot on the carpet instead. Jason charged one of the zombies and began attacking viciously. Dale said, “I’ve got the keys,” and stood up next to Zombie Jason.
Hailey smacked a zombie with her hatchet and Erica focused another spark that thankfully ignited a zombie which immediately fell to the ground. Dale opened the front door. “There’s more coming! Get in the truck!”
Jason grabbed the keys from Dale and turned the keys in the ignition. “Come on,” he muttered as everyone climbed in.
The engine turned over and started running. “Go to Slide Road!” Hailey ordered.
Jason took off, leaving the zombies in the dust. Erica leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes. “So, what exactly did you do just now?” Hailey asked.
Erica glanced at her and noticed that she was holding her arm close to her body. “Is your arm hurting?”
“A little bit. I’m sure it’ll be fine,” she said shortly.
“Well, I’m not sure what happened.”
“I hate to interrupt your conversation, but where are we going?” Jason asked.
They had arrived at Slide Road, but it was jam-packed with abandoned cars. “This truck can off-road, right?” Hailey said.
“As long as there aren’t any trees and mailboxes in the way, I guess,” Jason muttered.
“We should head towards the loop,” Dale said.
Jason drove west on 19th Street and Erica said, “There are still zombies out there…I can’t believe I just said that. All of my schooling has taught me that this is impossible. Impossible! Just like the fire thing…Impossible! But they seem to be following the truck.”
As they neared the loop they could see the cause of the traffic jam. A huge wreck was blocking the abandoned cars. “You still haven’t told us how you did that. With the fire,” Dale asked anxiously.
They entered the loop and headed north. “I just focused on them and they ignited. Once I’d done it a few times it just made sense,” Erica replied tersely. “Now, can we focus on survival, please?”
“Well, I have good news and bad news, guys,” Jason said.
“What is it?” Hailey asked anxiously.
“The good news is, the loop appears to be clear. The bad news is, we’ve got a quarter of a tank of gas.”
“We could get pretty far on a quarter of a tank in this truck,” Erica said.
“True. Where can we go to get far enough away?” Dale asked.
“We don’t even know what’s going on,” Jason said. “What if it’s like this all over the world? What if we’re the only normal people here?”
“I don’t think we are,” Hailey said.
“Why do you say that?” Erica asked.
Hailey pointed out the window. Jason slowed down and they all looked at the steady plume of smoke rising from the Wal-Mart on Frankford and the loop. “I don’t think zombies make fire, judging from their reaction to fire,” Erica said.
“To Wal-Mart then?” Jason asked.