Hold on, read no further. This is not the beginning. To truly appreciate this tale, you need to begin at the beginning (hence Part II). So please, if you would, click here. If you’ve read Part I, then by all means, carry on…
Sucking wind and banged up a bit, we jogged through the woods. Others had raced on ahead, some half jogged, half shambled in time with us. The first zombie exposure had been a shock. People wore the kind of expression normally reserved for moments like when you open the front door only to be sprayed in the face by a soured ricotta cheese spewing skunk. You know, part surprise, part disgust.
The trail wasn’t wide and it was chock full of tangle roots, mud, and toe-stubbers. The sun slanting through the heavy forest canopy was beautiful. Lichen covered fallen trees and fern growth provided the perfect backdrop to a Rob Zombie/Norman Rockwell painting. There they were, blood and gore crusted zombies in the path. These were the under achievers, the zombies without any desire to get ahead in life. They served as shuffling scenery, making feeble attempts to reach out for flags as you danced past them.
The trail brought us to an inverted “V” cargo net where zombies waited underneath and on the other side. We crossed this with ease and hit the short tunnels (about 2 foot high and 10 feet long solid pipes/tunnels). After scampering through, we’d have to cross a clearing before entering the woods again. The zombie waiting must have been a NFL cornerback in life. I waited until I thought he was distracted and dashed for the woods. He was quick, I slipped in the mud, and my first flag was gone.
The next series of obstacles would find our party decimated. I was to be the only one of the three of us with any chance of survival. We hit an uphill series of bleachers, having to jump from plank to plank. Upon landing, we had to make it through the field of sprinting, savage zombies. I wish I’d had a camera on my head because it was madness. Pure and simple madness. There were bodies everywhere; zombies, runners, victims and monsters. Somehow we made it through and hitched for breath. However, that had only been half of the obstacle.
Death waited in the form of a hay bale maze. The walls were three or four bails high, the ground a churning mess of muddy water and inside…swarming with zombies. While people contemplated vomiting, fighting cramps and wondering what the hell they’d gotten themselves into, someone began to organize the survivors.
“We have to go as a group,” said the take charge survivor, somehow with enough breath to form words over his vocal chords. “Let’s put the dead people out front, as bait.”
That quote is verbatim. I mean, there’s a no-nonsense, tell it like it is, action Jackson. We knew he was right though and we staggered up to join the throng. To try to do it alone would be flag suicide. At his command, we surged forward, punching forward like a desperate picket charge. Ray went down hard, like push-ups in the mud hard. Face first, six-foot mud spray hard. He made it through with one flag left, looking like a walking Tootsie Roll. I hadn’t been hit, still two flags. The next part happened so quickly that we didn’t realize Jimbo was not with us. There was a third part to this series of chaos and the group was ready to roll through en masse.
It was a downhill run through a field of the undead. There was no time to think, the mob went and we went with it. I shot forward, bee-lining for two zombies, hoping a direct charge at full speed would throw off their decayed brains. I zipped left out of the reach of a zombie who came in from nowhere and then hit the two with a leaping scissor kick, clearing their outstretched claws like a flying squirrel-deer. Just imagine that for a moment. The rest was downhill, literally. I made it through again, with my two flags. Ray was not so lucky. His “crotch-clutch” tactic backfired. He’d placed his last flag squarely above his…um, manhood, hoping that one of the zombies might think twice before snatching at his junk. To begin with, zombies don’t think. Secondly, the wedding dress zombie was not shy in the least. She came in grabbing and though Ray died on the hill, at least he died happy.
We collected ourselves at the bottom of the hill and realized Jimbo was not with us. We waited a bit and still no sign of him. We assumed that maybe he had gone a different route and decided that we’d have to get moving. It was too dangerous to linger any longer. What we did not know was that Jim had never made it into the hay maze with us. He’d been left behind and that mistake would prove tragic. Jim never made it through the maze alive and we would not see him again until after the race was over and he arrived, infected.
We moved on. Ray was now the walking dead, it was only a matter of time before the virus spread and I’d have to put him down. But, for now, he offered to act as a shield, hoping that maybe I’d survive and live to tell this tale….
To be continued in Part III…….Come back to read the conclusion to this tale of life, death, mud and madness…and maybe the odd squirrel-deer or crotch clutch.
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