Chapter 3: Citizen Stupid, or, Mr. Brown goes to Norway

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David watched the creatures with horror. None of these zombies were in good condition. They all looked tattered, worn out – they were missing limbs or eyes, the remains of their clothes nothing but shreds of fabric draped over hollow chests and wasted frames. They wandered across the traffic circle that separated the pickup from the filling station, their movements aimless and pathetic. Suddenly, as if responding to some cue, they turned in perfect unison, and all ten began to shamble towards the vehicle.

“They look hungry,” George commented, his tone light and amused.

David turned to George in surprise. “This is not funny! They're between us and the diesel!”

“We're in a locked vehicle. We can run them all down before they harm us.”

“Run them down?” David sounded uncertain. Whatever they were now, the creatures had once been human. It was one thing, David reasoned, to shoot one of them cleanly with an arrow, as George had done. It was another thing to try to run them down. David could imagine their high-pitched keening, the scrabbling of their finger-nails on the hubcaps. He rested his forehead on the steering wheel, his stomach heaving. Perhaps it was a good thing that he hadn't had any breakfast, though he still wondered what was inside George's mysterious paper bag.

“Stop being so soft, boy,” George sounded disgusted. “Move!”

David straightened up, swallowing slightly. He put his foot on the accelerator. Gently, he began to squeeze. Just as the vehicle started to lurch forward, there was a loud 'pop' and one of the zombies fell.

~*~

The radio was still speaking, a soft, feminine voice filling the room.

“One, four, five, six, five,” the voice repeated. It sounded mindlessly, yet somehow deviously, amused.

“The radio is scary,” Oliver said, his voice tight and high-pitched, even for a little boy. “Turn it off, please, Amy?”

Amy shook her head, her eyes gleaming. “In a moment, Oliver. I'm listening.” She was fascinated by the voice. Its odd timbre, its apparently meaningless message, and the fact that it was the first human voice Amy had heard transmitted electronically in nearly six months, proved a heady mixture. She reached for the dial, and turned the volume up, one notch at a time.

Chloe reached out, and hit the power button. The radio went silent. “That's enough,” Chloe said. “More than enough.”

~*~

David's hands gripped the steering wheel convulsively. The zombie's head had exploded, fragments of brain and skull spraying over the pickup's grill. A quick series of popping noises filled the air, and the remaining zombies fell, one at a time. Only then did David notice the low fence on his right.

An elderly man, much older than George, climbed over the fence. He was dressed far too formally for a zombie invasion – mustard coloured trousers and tie, dark brown woollen waistcoat, all topped with a mossy green wool coat. He was wielding a hunting rifle. The well-dressed, well-armed man turned to look over his shoulder, and gestured to someone. In a moment, a pair of teenagers, one male and one female, appeared. Both had dark hair and serious expressions. They were more casually dressed than their elderly companion, wearing jeans and light nylon jackets. Each of the two young people also carried a hunting rifle.

“Well, look at that. First zombies, now children with guns,” George commented.

David nervously turned to face him. “I'm not going to run them down.”

“What's that? Run those three down? Why would you do a thing like that? Don't you recognize the man? That's Larry Basil!” George opened the passenger door, and slid out of his seat. David pulled the door shut with a thump.

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