18 - Broadway Express - Second Car - Sarah

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 “We have to destroy the brain.” Sarah said, looking up at her mother. “That’s the only way.” She tried to sound grown up about this. It was the only way really. Celine looked at her with a gaping mouth. She loved Celine, she really did, but sometimes, she really had to wonder how clueless her mother was.

What did you say, young lady?”

“Mom, they are going to become things that want to eat us, if what this lady is saying is true. Is that right, did he try to eat you?”

The woman, Josie, Josie Jacobs, nodded. Her dark red hair had wet spots of a darker auburn there that Sarah hoped (but was not successful) was not blood. “It’s true Ma’am. There was a man back there that tried to eat me. I don’t think anyone’s alive in the Steering Car anymore. I know there are others on this train.”

“I don’t understand.” Celine said. She gave Josie what Sarah knew to be her best stern face. “How do you know a thing like that?” She then turned to Sarah. “And how do you know how to do a thing like that?” She pointed behind her at the mess of blood in the first car with a grimace on her face. Gore slipped between the tracks and the metal stairs and handrails were wet with it.  “And I’m quite unhappy with the service here, I’m quite upset.” She waved a hand. “And this whole place smells like tinkle.” She waved a hand. “I really don’t understand it. I am wondering where the staff is. It’s so hard to find good help these days.” She shook her head at Josie. “No offense to you, dear, of course.”

Sarah waited for it and counted for five seconds. She knew it was coming. She was waiting for it. She knew the words were going to come out of her mother’s mouth-they had a thousand times before. “Sarah Jane Parker!” Her voice was filled with fury. “What do you mean, shoot them in the head? Where did you see such filth?”

“I watch zombie stuff on my iPad all the time.”

“On that…thing. That computer thing I got you for your birthday?”

“Yes Mum.”

“It can do that?” Her voice was filled with wonder and delight; also a hint of fear, an undercurrent of it that was struggling to stay hidden.

“Yes Mum.”

“Oh my! That’s like a book that can see through time!”

Those words warmed Sarah’s heart. Her mother was a little off sometimes, but she said some pretty cool shit. “Yeah, Mum, kind of like that.”

Josie looked at them with an incredulous look on her face. “What the fuck’s up with her?”

“Broken.” Sarah said. “Former circus mother. Dad left three years ago.”

Josie paled. “Shit. You doing alright?”

Looking at the dead bodies behind them that were beginning to rise, Josie took Sarah’s hand absent mindedly. “My name’s Josie.”

“I know. Mines Sarah.”

“How old are you kid?”

“I’m ten.”

Josie looked at her. “Man you’re freaking me out. You like some sort of super smart kid. You remind me of my cousin’s kid Wanda. Except she’s, like, twenty two.”

““I’ve been better.” She paused for a beat. “We’ll have to move soon.” She said. Sarah Sarah looked up. The rips in the tunnel ceiling registered. She looked at the zombies that now filled the car behind them, where only seconds ago there had been people? How is such a thing possible?

It meant that some of them were out, that they were in the tunnels. This is what Sarah was thinking when the car smashed into something. It was like Sarah was hit by a bullet, although it had no physical formation. Her body was hit and moved by the explosion of metal and glass, blood red and vibrant on her eyes.

None of it touched her though. She could still here her mother though. She wondered idly what would become of her. There was no way that she was surviving a zombie apocalypse. There was just no way.

And another thing! I’m still quite unhappy with the service here, I’m quite upset.” She waved a hand again and that was the last Sarah saw of her mother. Then all she saw was red. When she woke she was in a woman’s arms and the woman was rocking her.

“Josie?”

“Don’t you worry sweetheart, mother’s here.” Sarah experienced a thrill of warmth, despite her former feelings. “That lovely woman’s gone off to find you some water. I don’t know quite how she’ll manage in these conditions.”

Sarah watched, her vision returning, as her mother looked around and took in the damp stone walls, the streaks that sparks had left behind in the past. The smear of char that reminded Sarah of blood, or mould; she shivered.

Her mother turned to her with a bright smile. “Did I ever tell you about the time that your father took me to the beaches in Hawaii?” She said. Her overly tanned skin blossomed and actually matched her bleached blond hair for once. “It was quite a lovely time.”

Another thrill of warmth inside of her-Sarah had heard the same story for ten years now. Celine had only lived with her father for three years before he was taken from them. “No Mum.” She said.

            “Well it was lovely.” Celine pulled Sarah closer to her and held her close. Though her voice was at a soft whisper now; Sarah wondered how long she’d been out. Her mother appeared to be softer-almost as if she were glowing. “There were all these wood beams that matched the drawers and coffee table set.” She smiled. “It was a suite. Always the big man your father.”

            Sarah waited for it. There was always so much warmth that Celine would doll out Sarah wondered if she would be the brunt of it this time. “As a matter of fact, there was a woman there, not unlike our very own Josie Jacobs. She was a lovely servant. I quite liked her. Now she was good help, something you can’t find nowadays.”

            “Mum, Josie is not servant in our house, all that is gone and we are not having this discussion.” Sarah tried to keep an angry tone out of her voice. “The year is 2012. We’ve had this talk already Mum. Daddy’s gone. There’s just this now, okay?”

            Even in the soft tones of her mother’s voice, the whispers of fear and comfort, Sarah heard the tears there. It was almost as if Sarah were crying and not Celine. She loved her mother, despite everything.

“Let’s just pretend something else for a little while longer, okay sweetheart?” Celine said. “Mother’s really tired. I could really use a spa day really bad. They restore the soul, you know.”

Celine told Sarah this on a daily basis. “Yes Mum.”

They fell silent and listened to the rats and water move in the tunnels. She could hear movement in the tunnels around her. Keeping her eyes open briefly, Sarah spotted a small metal casing. It was almost as if they were in a coffin. Sarah surmised that it was a metal box, a receptacle for trash. A small candle flame flickered nearby, its light casting shadows. “You just rest now.” Celine said. “Mother’s got you, sweetheart.” Her voice was soft in the dark, like the fluttering light of the candle.

“Let’s just pretend for a little while longer.”

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