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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 42: Beam 171
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Kondor 231
“Why are you asking me?”
Beam hadn’t expected Ashleigh to have a solution to the zombie problem, but he felt he had to ask.
“Sophia says she won’t share the bed with us until I get rid of them.”
“Good. I’d just as soon she wasn’t in our bed.”
“I don’t think you understand. She means she won’t allow you in our bed.”
“I’d like to see her keep me out.”
“You seriously don’t want her to be an enemy. You did see what she did to that zombie, right?”
Ashleigh didn’t answer that, but she did drop her eyes for a moment and look a bit less defiant.
“It’s O.K.,” Beam continued. “I really didn’t expect you to have a solution. This time, I don’t think there is one. At least, I don’t see it. Maybe I’ll have to come at it sideways.”
“What, you mean like dig a tunnel from the outside to the cellar and cart the bodies out that way?”
“No, but that is an idea. I don’t know that it’s a good idea, but thanks for suggesting something.”
Grumbling to himself about the unreasonability of redheads, Beam walked downstairs, and across the house to the garage. Opening the interior door, he entered, and looked about with a freshly procured lit candle in his hand. As he had expected, there was a shovel hanging on a pegboard on the wall. This fit with the personality of the former owners whose kitchen had been very well organized. Unfortunately, while they had been foodies, they had not been gardeners, and so there was only one basic shovel. It had a hollow metal rod six feet long screwed into the shovel plate and secured by a pin.
It looked like it would do the job, but a large part of the problem was that Beam was not that enthused about the job. He shrugged, and went looking for Dawn. Weirdly, she was staring at the curved lines in a wooden wallpost.
“Dawn, I need to go outside. I need you to guard me as I do.”
“Sir, yes, sir.” her eyes took in the shovel, and then she walked to the front door. After checking, she waved for him to join her. With her in the lead, the two circled the house looking carefully for signs of the easiest path to dig a slanting trench into the basement.
Dawn pointed to one area, but Beam put her arm down. He pointed nearby to a greener patch of grass.
“Always greenest over the septic tank. We don’t want to dig near that.”
They continued the circumnavigation of the house, and suddenly Dawn stopped. She took out a weapon, and with two quick precise downward thrusting steps crushed the skull of a zombie that had been laying in the grass like a landmine for who knows how long. Beam congratulated her, and then leaned over, definitely not touching, but examining it to learn more of his enemy.
Whatever had been in the zombie’s head that made it a zombie was gone. Instead, he saw a hundred ants, ten legged ones at that, who had taken up housekeeping after eating out the inside of the skull. They crawled about quickly, disturbed by the sudden shattering of their home. Soon they would likely retreat to the soil beneath the shattered skull, and make a new home there.
The quiet duo came around to the side underneath the second story window from which the plates had been discus-thrown, and found a low area that showed three levels of some sort of constructed stone that was not cement or concrete.
“I think this is it, Dawn.”
“Sir, your goal, sir?”
“Build a slanting trench so that we can retrieve with a shepherd’s hook or loop and cord like for a snake each of the zombies, and drag them safely up to be killed.”
“Sir, understand, this will enable the zombies to swarm us. This plan is sub-optimal, sir.”
Beam sighed. Sophia, if you were not so beautiful, I’d be having very loud words with you right now, he thought.
Do you wish me to pass this message to Sophia?
Bob’s mental voice echoed in his mind.
No! Bob, no. Why did you ask me now?
Your mental voice was very loud.
No messages for now, Bob. You see the problem in my head, how would you fix it?
Water from wall overflow.
It took a couple seconds to interpret that as letting the sink taps overflow, which would lead to water flowing down the steps, and into the pit, and drowning all the zombies. Then once they were dead, he could build his trench. And then finally his pain in the neck redhead and the tasty teen would have to pretend to get along with each other, and he might enjoy a good bed with them.
“Thanks, Bob. Follow me, Dawn.” He went back inside to the garage and got the silicone rubber garden hose. This he attached with something called Chimera Tape which had a cartoony illustration of someone trying to tape together parts of a pig and a chicken with tape. Once the hose was hooked with tape to the faucet, and the other end was dangling over the porch trap in the basement, he turned on the water. The splashing sound from down below let him know his plan was working.
Ten minutes later, Bob said something in his mind.
Tiny hungry minds struggle to wake.
An hour later, he ‘heard’.
In the kitchen, considering what he wanted to make for lunch, he again heard Bob’s mental voice.
After a lunch of noodles and beef barbecue, he heard Bob report back with unwelcome news.
Some are awake.
Wary, with Dawn following him, he went down the stairs, and looked in with a flashlight. Eleven zombies were standing up in two feet of water, which was steadily slowly rising. Others were floating, or stuck to the bottom, and thus presumably according to Bob all the way dead.
The zombies lurched up at him, but he was far out of reach. However, two of them slid in the mud, and fell, and only one got up.
“Then there were ten,” Beam muttered. He just stared down at them, oddly fascinated, and occasionally taunting them by speaking to them, or moving about. He waited.
By the time the water level reached three feet, there were only eight left, and their movements were slowing some, which Beam took to mean they were shutting down, or at least conserving energy as their tiny brains had realized he was out of reach.
Thinking, Beam went back up to the garage. He had seen some small bricks piled in a corner. Looking over them with his flashlight, he saw they were the same material but smaller than the four foot long exterior foundation bricks. Picking one up, he examined it. It was light compared to a clay brick, and looking closely he could see what looked like crushed coral mixed with some sort of resin.
“Hey, Bron,” he said as he went to find his blacksmith.
“Want to practice beaning zombies in the head?”
Bron smiled, and the two went back to the garage, gathered up fifteen bricks, and took them downstairs. There were only seven left at that point, and the water was just a bit over three feet high.
Feeling generous, he gave Bron the honor of the first pitch. It smashed right into a zombies’ head, caving in part of the skull, but not knocking it off its feet. Beam’s turn was next, and he threw his brick hard, right into the chest of another zombie. The impact and the slippery mud underfoot combined to knock the zombie over–but it got back on its feet.
Bron laughed and threw his, missing entirely, which got Beam laughing. Beam then took his turn, and bounced one off the ceiling hard, hoping to totally cave in a skull. It missed, and plunked into the water, and several zombies turned to look at it, and one slipped, fell, and did not rise again.
“Woo! I got one.”
“That doesn’t count.”
“My turn.” Staring hard at his burly blacksmith, Beam gave way, and let the man make his throw. Bron tilted the brick so that he was aiming it lengthwise, and he took careful aim, and snapshotted it straight into the face of the zombie he had head slammed before. This one took off the top of the zombies’ head, and the creature just crumbled in its tracks.
“Nice,” Beam allowed. He waited some time, as the zombies on occasion moved about just a bit, and Bron was impatiently tapping a foot when suddenly Beam threw. The brick caught a zombie right in the face, and tore it off, and then it hit a second zombie in the arm, spinning it so that it slipped and fell, but not before crashing into a third which slipped and fell as well. Of the three, only the second rose, and its arm was clearly broken.
Bron took the next shot, and threw, and it hit the monster’s thigh just above the three feet of water, causing the leg to bend backwards, and with a crumpling sound the knee was gone, the zombie tilted over, tried to rise, tried to rise again, knocked over one of its compatriots, and then sank together with the companion never to rise again. Only one was left. Both men looked at each other. If Beam got this one, it would be a tie. If not, Bron was the clear winner.
Beam considered using Bron’s tactic, but he wanted to do something flashier, and cooler. So he turned about, and scooped up an armload of the remaining bricks, and dumped them on the zombie. Whether it died from skull obliteration or drowning was not certain, but they both heard Bob’s voice in their heads.
Tiny minds gone.
Laughing and arguing about who won, Beam and Bron walked back up the stairs, and into the kitchen for some juice packs from the MRE’s. In there, Beam saw Sophia. Almost tauntingly, he spoke.
“The zombies are dead dead now. All I gotta do is get them out.”
Looking furious, Sophia stomped out and headed up to the second floor to be alone. Bron looked at him wide eyed. Beam shrugged back with a manly ‘it's all good’ and ‘I got this’. Bron looked doubtful, but said no more even as Beam turned off the water, and began to stow the hose after detaching it from the faucet.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #482: Versers Engage. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: