A nameless ronin enters a small village

As far as human occupied landfills go Junker’s Delight isn’t so bad.  There’s edible food to be had (for a price) water that only gives you a little dysentery, the air doesn’t shred your throat like you’re swallowing a solution of diet-Pepsi and sand (which you are not) and as far as I’ve seen no one is going around cutting everyone’s heads off overly much.  By the standards of the day it’s almost paradise, and much nicer than the actual place called Paradise we took off from in our plane before Martialla crashed it. 

I’d like to talk to someone about how they need to get help us find the Invincible base since they’re the ones who wrecked the convoy on which this place depends but that’s where it becomes a problem that no one is really in charge.  As far as I can tell here are the “power groups” of the area the True, the Antolpians, the guy who brings in the water, and a couple bigger gangs.  The True already told us they’re too stupid and cowardly to do anything about the Invincible, so that means in theory that what I need to do is go around and speak to all the other groups and see who’ll take the bait.  And then try to forge some kind of half-assed coalition against the Invincible like I just did back west. 

The problem with that plan is that I don’t wanna.  I’m tired of begging these future pus-bags to do things that are in their own best interests.  Why can’t anyone see that I’m telling them the right thing and just do it?  Why can’t people just talk to me once and then put me change their entire society?  Is that too much to ask?  I’m sick of it all.  We were sitting out in one of the many junk-pavilions drinking some almost palatable moonshine and I was explaining this to Lucien and Martialla.  I have no idea where Paul was skulking. 

“So what we need to do is figure out a way to play these factions against one another and end up on top.  We need to Yojimbo this place.”

Lucien frowned slightly “What’s a Yojimbo?”

I put my head in my hand “Jesus dude, have you ever even seen a movie?”

He shrugged “Must have come out after I was put underground.”

“Yojimbo came out in nineteen sixty-one!  There is no excuse for you not to have seen it!  Akira Kurosawa?  No, nothing?  It’s fantastic!  How can you not have seen it?  Do they not have movies in Canada?”

“Fistful of Dollars is the same movie beat for beat if you saw that” Martialla added unhelpfully.

Lucien halfway shrugged again “Don’t know that movie either.  I was never much of one for movies, I felt like I had more important things to do than sitting around doing nothing in a dark room with a bunch of strangers.”

I frowned at him “You know I’m an actress right?”

He frowned back at me but more in confusion than my righteous anger “I thought you were a singer.”

“I’m both!”

“Uh, yeah . . . so . . . are you suggesting that I should pretend I like movies so as to not offend you?  Do I have to pretend that I like whatever anyone else likes?”

“No” I said as I stomped away “Just things that I like so you don’t offend me!”

Lucien looked over to Martialla “Does she ever talk about anything other than movies?”

Martialla snickered “She talks about her ass sometimes.  Which you can’t fault her for on honestly, it’s a blue ribbon ass.  If you like that sort of thing.”

Lucien shook his head like an old school marm “In the year two thousand does everyone talk like you two?  Such language.”

Martialla’s snicker turned into a laugh “You’re highly persnickety for an army man.”

“Sure but you have to remember I’m, ah that is to say, was in, the Canadian army.”

Martialla nodded “Oh right.”

Ela Halloween Special #11

Our heroes (?) limp painfully back out onto the zombie-ravaged streets of Sueno Beach.  Away from the marina where good old dependable Lucien met his final reward.  Our three remaining survivors come face to face with a grim reality.  They’re on their last legs – physically, mentally, emotionally, the whole shebang.  They have to make their way past hordes of ravenous undead fiends to reach the channel 14 television studios.  Duke is in the best shape of the three.  Which isn’t saying a lot since he got mauled twice. 

Ela and Martialla are fading fast – they lean on each other like drunk hobos and don’t so much walk as they take turns falling forward while the other holds them up. The human body can endure a lot but everyone has their limits.  Blood loss, exhaustion, shock, having a zombie shark bite your foot off, these things they all take their toll.  Martialla is the worse off of the two.  With three deaths in quick succession she’s falling into a spiritual K hole of sorts.  Add that to the mind-numbing horror she’s experienced this night to her rapidly worsening physical condition and she’s ready to just lay down and die.  If Ela wasn’t there dragging her forward she’d probably do just that.

Ela feels dizzy and nauseated all the time but even with one foot she still forces one foot in front of the . . . well not other, but you know, she keeps going is the point.  Seeing Lucien dragged under the water like that rent her heart in two, but it’s only served to harden her resolve to make it out alive.  Lucien was nothing if not a survivor, and he’d never want Ela to think about giving up for even a split second.  The memory of Lucien’s smiling gay Canadian face spurs her onward.  Despite the pain, despite the awfulness, despite the empty feeling in her chest, despite the shooting pain in her footless leg.  She’s going to get out of Sueno Beach and that’s that, there’s nothing else for it.  They turn down the street, their path illuminated by burning cars.  Also lit up by the dancing flames, assorted chewed up human body parts laying strewn about like discarded dog bones.

Ela looks around wearily “Do we even know which way to go to get to this television station?”

Duke shrugs “Does it matter?  Have to take the path of least zombie resistance.  We’re in no condition to fight.”

Martialla stumbles badly and almost drags Ela down with her “What are we going to do if we get corned?”

“Probably get killed.”

Ela scowls at him “Shut up Duke, we’re going to make it.”

“Actually, now that I think about it we probably won’t get killed right away – we’ll be eaten alive. Eventually we’ll knock off from blood loss or something as they eat us, but unless they bite into the heart or brain it could take a while to die.  I’d wager that’s what all the screaming we’ve been hearing tonight has been about. Aside from the general screaming that people would do just at seeing zombies or what have you.”

Ela gives him a death-glare “Shut the fuck up you human cockroach.”

Duke starts to say something back but Martialla laboriously raises her arm and points “Hey look, there are some zombies now.”

Duke looks “Yes, those certainly do seem to be zombies.  And unless I’m mistaken they’re not wearing any pants. Aaaaand they’ve got us surrounded.”

Ela does her best to focus but her vision is swimming pretty badly “He’s right, they’re all at least half nude.”

“Well, there is a massage parlor around here somewhere. You know, a ‘massage parlor’, wink-wink, nudge-nudge say no more?”

Martialla raises an eyebrow “How would you know about that Duke?”

Even in the face of oblivion he still manages to look embarrassed “I don’t know about it, I mean I . . . I didn’t say . . . I just heard . . .”

Ela laughs hysterically “We’re under attack by zombie hookers! And their zombie johns! What a way to fucking go!”

Martialla can’t stand anymore, she doesn’t just sit down but lays on the ground “Whatever they are they’re getting pretty close.  Are you two going to do something about that? I’m fine with just laying here and accepting the inevitable, but I’d like to know the plan.”

Ela grabs Martialla by the arm and starts dragging her painfully “Nothing is inevitable!  Lucien didn’t sacrifice himself so you could lay down and die, Martialla.  We can get away in one of these cars.”

Duke yanks the mostly skeletonized body out of the driver’s seat “Yes, yes, capital idea!  Just look how well it worked for this fellow.  And the keys are still in it, what luck!  This is a Toyota Tercel you sons of whores! You’re all in big trouble now!”

Ela slides smoothly into the driver’s seat “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of everything.  I’m a regular driving machine which is what car is too, a literal driving machine.  That’s why we get along so well, birds of a feather you know. Get in, get in, get in, we don’t have all night!  You know, I won the Ah’hinei’ai time trials in Hawaii back in ought ninety-nine driving a rutabaga powered sportster. The trophy and the prize money were great, but afterwards I went out drinking with Miss Australia nineteen ninety three and we ran into Pierce Brosnan.  Can you believe that?” 

Duke and Martialla collapse into the back seat and they say simultaneously “No.”

“So Pierce and I get to talking, that accent of his is a nightmare by the way, anyway I can tell you that story later, let’s get this road on the show.”

Zombies are climbing onto the car as Ela carefully puts her seat belt on, adjusts the mirrors, moves her seat back and forth a couple of times, adjusts the mirror again, and then finally turns the key in the ignition and starts the car up.  A zombie smashes through the driver’s side window and grabs her by the hair, prompting her to finally mash her stump down on gas.  They take off like a shot – zombies flying off the car as the tires squeal and throw smoke. The zombie that grabbed Ela is dragged to the ground and off with a handful of her skin and hair.

Ela has her arm up on the headrest looking out the back window “Cripes! That hurt!”

Martialla peeks up in the backseat “Are we going backwards?”

Duke peeks up carefully as well “It seems so.”

Ela knocks down a row of zombies like a kid in driver’s education murdering cones “Of course we’re going backwards – this is how a trained professional does it.  A front end impact will set off the airbags.  You know, I was talking to the stunt driver on the set of . . .” She yells and swerves as they run over a mailbox. “Hey, where did that come from?”

Duke’s eyes go wild as Ela slows to a crawl “What are you doing, get us the hell out of here!”

“I’m trying to find the lights, I can’t see anything!”

Martialla waves her onwards wildly “Who cares?! Just go!”

“Oh, that’s a fine attitude for a motorist to have, isn’t it?   I don’t know how things work in Moosejaw or Saskatoon or Regina or whatever Canadian shithole you come from but here in the US of A we take safety seriously.  It’s that kind of thinking that leads to dozens of automobile related deaths each year. Safety is the watchword of the day when you’re driving my friend, and that’s a fact jack. Who cares? Who cares?  Just drive off into the night without lights? Well you’re sure as hell going to care when we slam into a brick wall won’t you?  You’ll care so much you’ll be dead! Ah, there we go.”  The lights cut on and she takes off again, crunching more zombies. “Hmm, we seem to be getting a lot of grinding, I should ask a mechanic about that.”

Ela Halloween Special #8

Leaving the zombie in-line hockey zombies behind them, slipping and sliding in vain on a field of marbles, our trepid heroes troop off once more into the dark, cold, zombie-infested night.  Martialla, being one of the only fully ambulatory members of the group remaining, heads out alone to scout.  When she returns, Ela nearly takes her head off with a mighty swing of the axe.  Martialla manages to fall/duck out of the way and looks up at her with eyes wide.  Ela missed, but the side of her head is slick with blood nevertheless.

“Watch what you’re doing Ela, you almost lopped my head off by accident!”

Ela raises an eyebrow “Yes, sure, accident.”

Duke helps Martialla back to her feet “Just a suggestion, it may not be the best idea to sneak up on a group of heavily armed people in fear for their lives and on edge.  Fun, but not a good idea.”

Martialla slaps him on the back companionably “What do you think scouting is, other than sneaking around?”

The doctor looks around nervously, eyes wide like a scared colt “So what’s the lay of the land?”

Ela snorts “We’re relying on Martialla as our scout now? Someone just go head and shoot me now.”

Martialla smiles “It’s funny you should say that because around this very corner here happens to be a sporting goods store.  And a sporting goods store, aside from delightful balls of all sorts and sizes, jock straps to fit any man, and nutcups for all ages, is also going to have guns. That’s the good news.”

“What’s the bad news?”

Martialla nods her head in the direction she came “There’s a whole mess of zombie boy scouts around the corner waiting for us.  I tried to make a deal with the scout master, open up a dialog and reach an agreement beneficial to both sides, but he bit my ear off and at that point negotiations broke down.  I believe the same thing happened at Camp David back in seventy-nine.  I guess it’s kind of cool though, because now I’m like Picasso.  Or was that Raphael?”

Duke frowns “The ninja turtles? I didn’t even know turtles had ears.”

“They don’t after they cut them off.”

Ela gives them both a smack “Shut up about the ninja turtles.”

Elvis nods as if talking to himself “Now that we know they’re there, we can just go around them, go another way.”

Ela peeks around the corner for a second “We need to get in that store and get those guns.  Fighting zombies hand to hand, fun though it may be, is dangerous.  Sooner or later it’s going to get someone killed.” She looks at Duke “Someone important I mean.” She waves her foot-cooler at them “Look what trouble it’s already gotten us into. If we have the guns, we can blast our way through to the airport and get out of this zombie-infested stinkhole.”

Lucien grimaces, trying to hide his pain “So what’s the plan?”

“There’s about twenty or so of them altogether, sitting in the middle of the street so what we do is . . .”

Martialla is limbering up for the fight “I think they were sewing on their patches for flesh eating. Or merit badges.  Do boy scouts have patches or badges?  What is the difference between a badge and a patch anyway?”

Ela swats her “Shut up Martialla, even your recipe for mojitos is too sugary and everyone knows it!  Anyway, here’s what we’re going to do . . .”

Tina adjusts her very tattered and dirty dress “Don’t worry about it Ela, I’ll handle this one. Won’t take me longer than two shakes of a grasshopper’s leg.”  She fires up her chainsaw with a yank and a roar.

“No, god damn it!  Listen to me, this is a very intricate plan, we have to follow my instructions down to the smallest detail with split-second timing, otherwise . . .”

Tina revs the chainsaw “Sorry babycakes, I can’t hear you over the sound of me being awesome.”

Tina tears off around the corner waving the chainsaw over her head and shouting strange war-cries.

“It’s chainsaw time, you zombie mother fuckers!  Tina is going to chainsaw you up Texas style! Step right up, come one come all!”

The first zombie slurches forward at her, eager to feed and Tina swings the chainsaw viciously at it in a whirling motion – really putting her hips into it.  And, as we know, the hips don’t lie.  The deadly flashing blade strikes home, sending a disgusting rotten shower of gristle and bone and unrecognizable squishiness flying everywhere.

Tina raises her hands to the sky and mimes roaring fan noise “And the crowd goes wild! T-Na!  T-Na!  T-Na!  It’s just like Army of Darkness, hail to the king baby!  Er, I mean queen.”

Of course one second after that, the rest of the zombie boy scout horde bum rushes her from behind and she’s buried under a landslide of flapping zombie arms and legs as well as viciously snapping zombie teeth. As she goes down, the chainsaw flies out of her hands and tumbles end-over-end through the air.

“Heads up!”

Everyone in the gang scatters as the whirling chainsaw starts to come down.  Everyone that is except the good doctor, who stands like a deer in the headlights clutching his bag of medical supplies. He looks up in horror as the chainsaw comes down directly at him – the nasty end first.  The rest of the group turns away at the last second.  They don’t dare to look until the horrible grinding sound has stopped and blood has quit splattering on their backs. The poor doctor is no more, alas we hardly knew he. They stand staring at what’s left of him until Ela’s urgent shouting brings them back around. She sprints for the sporting goods store – as well as a one-footed woman can sprint anyway – and everyone else runs to try and save Tina.  They start pulling zombies off and throwing them aside, but soon they’re all in trouble – back to back surrounded by the zombie boy scouts with only their axe and sledgehammer and rakes keeping them at bay.

Martialla’s head is whipping around “Where the hell is Ela?! Some leader, she ran off and left us all to die!”

Duke has tears running down his face “Martialla, since we’re going to die I want you to know that I love you. Well, not love really I guess, but I could see us going out.  Not long term, but like a couple times. Well maybe not going out exactly, but if I got drunk and ended up in bed with someone I’d want it to be you. I mean if someone else who was better wasn’t around.  You have such a great ass . . . or you did before you got fat anyway.”

Martialla sniffs “That’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

Lucien covers his face with his hand for a second, shaking his head and saying something in Canadian.

Duke looks over “What did he say?”

“It doesn’t translate to English exactly, but something about how he can’t believe he’s going to die with morons surrounding him.”

That’s what it looks like is going to happen, the zombies surge forward for the kill, but across the street Ela comes sauntering out of the sporting goods store, as well as a woman with one foot can saunter anyway.  She’s got a heavily laden gym bag hung around her neck. Gone is her trusty axe but she’s replaced it with a pump-action shotgun.  She has a double-barreled shotgun in her other hand with the cooler and she has a whole bunch of shells stuffed in the front of her bloody clown shirt. She advances with the pump-action, blowing zombies away until she runs out of ammo – then discarding it and taking up the double-barreled number. Luckily enough at that point, there are just two zombies left – one for each barrel.  Setting the cooler down, she puts her charred stump on it and pops open the shotgun, expelling the spent cartridges.

“God made some people big and some people small.  And guns made them all the same size.”

Elvis is staring at her lumpy shirt laden with shotgun shells “Wow, Ela you should really have yourself checked out because that does not look healthy.  When’s the last time you did a self-breast exam?  Next time you’re in the shower here’s what I want you to do . . .”

Ela smacks him as she reaches into her shirt and re-loads “Shut up! Who here knows how to use a gun?”

Martialla raises her hand “I do, I was in the army.” She gestures “So was Lucien.”

Ela laughs “The Canadian Army?  Do they even have guns?  I think they just tickle their enemies with maple leafs.  Does anyone here actually know how to use a gun? It’s not too complicated, just point at what you want to make dead and then pull the trigger.”

Lucien frown “It’s actually a little more complicated than that [untranslatable Canadian gibberish].”

Ela shakes her head and tosses the bag to Lucien “No, it isn’t.”

Elvis reaches for the bag “Hey, why does he get all the guns?”

Duke also moves that way “Yeah, I want to shoot stuff, too.”

Ela slaps them both down “Lucien gets all the guns because I trust him not to freak out and shoot me in the back at every little noise.  You and Elvis are too jumpy to trust with guns, I’d give a chimp a gun before I gave you one.” She snaps the shotgun shut “Now let’s get out of here, it’s past my bedtime.”