Hollowland / Page 13

Page 13

“I’ve been here before,” Lazlo said to no one in particular. “I played at the Hard Rock, and we partied it up in Vegas for like three days after.”

“Yeah, great.” I did my best to ignore him as I stepped through the broken glass and squinted in the darkness of the casino. “Does anybody have a light or something?”

Casinos were built without windows so people can’t keep track of how long they’ve been there. That’s fine when it’s full of bright lights, but with the power out, the casino was a pitch black tomb. We were left feeling around broken chairs, upended slot machines, and lots of dead bodies.

“It smells horrible in here,” Lazlo grimaced after he’d made it a few feet inside. It smelled pretty rank, but I was getting used to the smell of death, as much as anyone could get used to it.

“You should’ve smelled the truck I was in yesterday.” Harlow gagged at the thought.

“Blue, can you see anything?” I walked farther into the darkness. Blue was ahead of me, and I couldn’t see him anymore

“Not really. I’m trying to find security. They should have flashlights.” He started to say something else, but he grunted and I heard a bang. “I’m okay. I just tripped.”

“You know, I saw a flashlight in the car,” Lazlo said. He waited just inside the doors, rubbing his arm and looking around in the dark. “Should I go get it?”

“Yeah, that might be helpful,” I said dryly.

He came back a few minutes later with a flashlight, and I took it from him. I had deemed him too stupid to even handle a light. After that, we were able to find the security area and two working flashlights. I gave one to Blue and one to Harlow.

Lazlo made some kind of complaint, but I ignored him. Blue went to the right to look for food, and I went to the left, thinking it’d be quicker if we split up. I left Harlow and Lazlo with the instruction to look for food but not to stray too far away.

“Is she always like this?” Lazlo said to Harlow as I walked away.

“Usually,” Harlow replied, and I sighed to myself.

I held the flashlight up over my head, shining as much light as I could, and made my way through smashed slots and broken tables, looking for a kitchen or bar.

Without air conditioning or windows, it was suffocating. By the time I found the kitchen, I was drenched in sweat and finding it hard to breathe. The air was filled with dust, heat, and death.

I found an empty black trash bag, and I rummaged around. Most of the food had spoiled, and a body lying on the stove had burned to a crisp some time ago. I pushed past it and hunted around the shelves.

There were many jars of maraschino cherries and olives for drinks, and I tossed them in the bag. The best thing I found were cases of bottled of water, and I was filling the bag with them when I heard a shaky groan behind me.

A solitary zombie stood in the door to the kitchen. It was so far into the end stages of the disease, I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. Most of its hair had fallen out, and it was emaciated and pale. It looked like a reanimated corpse.

Part of its bottom lip was gone, as well as most of its teeth. Yellowish drool dripped down from its mouth, and it just stood there, staring at me. A younger, healthier zombie would’ve already sprung on me, but this one was almost dead.

I didn’t want to waste a bullet on it, but I couldn’t leave it alive either. I scanned the kitchen, hoping for something less personal than a butcher knife but more dangerous than a ladle.

The zombie walked towards me, hobbling and bumping into everything. I grabbed the thing nearest to me – a super long meat thermometer. I worked with what I had.

I stepped forward, and before it could react, I jammed the thermometer in its eye, right through its brain. The zombie stopped moving, but it took a second before it collapsed back on the ground.

When it fell, my flashlight picked up the bigger problem.

– 6 –

Waiting outside the kitchen door were three young, hungry zombies, but I hadn’t heard them over the dying zombie’s labored breaths. I had been too busy concentrating on the wrong zombie.

“It was a fucking decoy,” I said, feeling confused.

The other zombies charged towards me. I grabbed a metal pan and chucked it at the charging zombie’s head. It didn’t kill him, but it bought me a second to think of a better plan.

I dropped my flashlight on the counter and dove across a stainless steel island, sending pans flying as I slid out of reach of another zombie’s grasp. I slammed into the stove across from it, knocking a spoon, a salt shaker, and box of matches down onto my lap when I fell to the floor.

A zombie dove across the island, and I dropped to my belly, sliding in the gap underneath it. I barely fit. The zombie crashed onto its head, falling onto the floor next to where I lay hidden under the island.

The box of matches was within my reach, so I grabbed for it. As the zombie struggled to get up, its foot slid under the island, almost kicking me in the face, and I struck a match. I pressed the flame against his pants.

Unfortunately, zombies aren’t very flammable, and it went out instantly. It still seemed like a brilliant idea, and I slid out the other side of the island.

Two of the zombies were on the opposite side of the kitchen from me. The third one, a very fat balding man who looked disturbingly like Paul Giamatti, crouched down to eat the carcass of the zombie I’d just killed. The meat thermometer was still in its eyes as the Paul Giamatti zombie ate its face.

“God, you’re gross,” I grimaced as I stood up. He looked up at me, excited over fresh meat, and I was already grabbing a bottle of tequila off the counter.

He stood up, and I hit the bottle over his head. While it did smash, breaking a bottle over someone’s head requires a lot more force than movies had led me to believe. My wrist screamed painfully as shards of glass and alcohol splattered everywhere.

Zombie Paul Giamatti howled as blood and tequila dripped into his eyes. I tried to strike another match, which didn’t work, and he reached for me.

I stepped backward, nearly running right into the arms of one of his infected comrades, but I ducked down just before he grabbed me. I leaned back, rolling into the zombie’s legs and knocking him down, and then somersaulted back onto my feet.

I finally lit a stupid match, and I flicked it onto the alcohol-drenched Paul Giamatti zombie. This time, he caught on fire, and it quickly spread. He even managed to light the zombie next to him on fire.

This was good, except that now I had two crazed, burning zombies standing between me and the exit, plus another one that wasn’t on fire. I had not thought this plan through at all.

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