Fighting the Dead:The Last Town #4

By: Stephen Knight

Reese tried to close the tailgate, but it was damned heavy. One of the cops jumped down and helped him, and the two of them managed to get it up high enough where the others could take over and pin it closed. The engine roared as Bates goosed the accelerator. Reese and the other cop climbed up and threw themselves into the truck’s long cargo bed. Someone else climbed up after Reese, and he twisted, trying to get his M4 up. It wasn’t a zombie; it was First Sergeant Plosser.

“Mind if I tag along, Reese?” the senior NCO asked.

“It’s an open party,” Reese said.

With that, Bates dropped the truck into gear. There was a metal gate in front, and he drove the truck right through it, ripping it off its hinges. There were zombies on the other side, but the hulking, olive-drab five-ton truck didn’t even slow down as it rolled right over them. The truck continued down the narrow service road that ran alongside the Bowl, then turned left, heading off overland. Everyone in the back of the truck held on for dear life as Bates steered the truck through the trees and scrub, heading in the general direction of the Hollywood Bowl Overlook, a small observation park that lay just off Mulholland Drive. The truck left a huge wake of dust behind it, and through the billowing clouds, Reese saw people running after the rig, waving their arms. Men. Women. Children.

And behind them, slower but tireless, came zombies.

The Apaches pirouetted overhead, already guns dry. Two more black dots appeared on the horizon, anti-collision lights winking in the darkening sky. Black Hawks, descending as they approached the Bowl. Reese wondered if they were going to actually attempt a landing. Plosser looked up at the approaching utility helicopters as well.

“I see the colonel’s getting a ride out,” he said, his tone dry as he held on to the side of the truck. He turned to Reese. “So, Detective. Tell me you have a plan? We heading for the Mojave?”

“Long Beach,” Reese said.

Plosser frowned. “Little late to work on your Hollywood tan, isn’t it? Gonna be night soon.”

“You like boats, Plosser?”

“Not really, But if there’s a paycheck in it, I’ll join whatever navy you want.”

Reese grunted as the big truck pushed through a copse of trees, actually knocking one right over. Its wheels spun as black exhaust erupted from its stacks, and for a moment, Reese feared the rig might get stuck. But it shuddered on, powering its way through the barricade of vegetation, then through the guardrail on the other side. Bates horsed the truck through a decidedly inelegant three-point turn, and then, it was rolling down Mulholland Drive. Heading southwest, its square nose pointed in the general direction of the Pacific Ocean. From up here in the hills, Reese saw the devastation that was being wrought on the darkened, powerless city. Columns of smoke rose in the air from fires that burned unabated, lighting up the city in the darkness. Helicopters of all kinds whirled across the sky.

Over thirty miles to Long Beach, he thought. A piece of cake.

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