I have a gun. Ironically, it wasn't as hard to locate one as I expected it would be. Turns out, I found a Smith & Wesson Model 629 revolver (it's either nickel or stainless steel) near the rigormortised hand of my neighbor Wayne. All I could think of at the moment was of the NRA bumper sticker, "You Can Have My Gun When You Pry It Out of My Dead Hands," which is either ironic or prescient. I never really understood irony, and in the near and maybe distant future, who really gives a damn. What I do give a damn about is that I also found six boxes of Winchester .44 hollow points. Of course, there were six rounds in the cylinder, as Wayne only pulled the trigger twice on his last day, as far as I can tell. I had to scout about a bit in Wayne's bedroom, which he shared with his late wife Caroline. I found the ammo in his sock drawer (a clear violation of our state laws, but again, who cares now?), along with a few well-worn Penthouse and Playboy magazines. I had no trouble taking the ammo, but the magazines seemed a bit too personal and kinda' gross, too, so I left 'em behind.
Someday maybe I'll have to deal with the memories of the blood and brain splatter all over Wayne's living room wall, but today I'm happy to have a serviceable weapon if I'm pressed by small groups of infected. The noise the thing must make when fired will certainly draw more zombies closer to my position, but it should give me a chance to evade an unlucky encounter, at least for awhile. I assume its loud, but I never heard a thing.
I really only found the gun by chance. I got stir crazy enough to leave my barricaded house yesterday for a quick excursion into my neighborhood. I was probably no more than twenty-five yards from my house at any given moment, but it felt like I was miles from safety. Hell, I can see into Wayne and Caroline's living room from my bedroom window. A simple six foot wooden fence separates our property, so I had to skirt around it on the street side to their driveway. I was curious if they had shut the gate, as the fence, which might not stop more than a few zombies, does provide a noise and visibility screen. And their fence, unlike mine, goes all around their little plot. Layers, right? When I got around to the driveway side, I could see the gate was indeed closed, but it wasn't locked. I lifted the latch mechanism, quietly swung the gate open, slipped inside, and secured the gate behind me. I had my machete hanging from my belt and carried an aluminum softball bat with me, which until I found the gun, I had identified as my best weapons.
Once inside the fence line, I did a quick and stealthy walk around the inside of the fence, looking for infected or signs of either Wayne or Caroline, as their Volvo was in the driveway. The house looked secure, pristine even. Many of the flowers in their garden were in bloom, and other than the long grass (Wayne kept his yard nicely and the grass never grew higher than 3 inches), things looked totally normal. Or at least I thought so, until I finished the circuit, which brought me to the passenger side of the car. A massive, jagged hole was blown through the window, and red-brown smears were all over the inside. There was scattered safety glass fragments on the ground, and I remember the crunch my boots made as I stepped on them. About the same time what I was seeing registered, I heard the flies. An audible buzz was emanating from inside the car, and based on the long blond hair matted to the window, I could tell Caroline had never gotten out of the car.
I grew instantly alarmed. On one hand, I was worried that whoever shot Caroline was probably near by, or at least could be. On the other, Wayne had been a good neighbor and I was worried that he might be hurt inside the house, or perhaps even turned. I had been alone for days on end, and my desire to see another living person overwhelmed my fear of being attacked by a looter or facing an infected Wayne. As I let my thoughts settle in my head, I noticed that the blood and gore on the car looked old and dry, so I took it to mean that this tragedy was not recent. I quickly decided to check for Wayne in the house. Maybe it wasn't the safe thing to do, but my adrenaline and loneliness were guiding me by that point.
I went to the kitchen door, which is covered from the weather and elements by an enclosed walkway that attaches the main house to their converted garage. I didn't dare knock, as I surmised the noise would certainly bring either an infected from inside or perhaps alert any intruders inside to my presence. Perhaps this logic was flawed, as alerting any infected would have required them to open the door (which I don't believe they can manage) or bash through it. Either way, knocking may have bought me time to escape. But I wasn't looking to escape, I was looking for Wayne.
Once I opened the door, I instantly knew I wasn't going to find a living person inside. The stench was horrendous, unlike anything I can describe from prior experience. It was the smell of death; rotten bodies and feces. That was the only time I hesitated and considered fleeing. My eyes watered and I fought my gag reflex, and I thought I was going to puke. While the desire to puke passed, the smell didn't and I can't say that I grew accustomed to it in the first few seconds or minutes that I stood in the kitchen. Rather, I just forced myself to ignore it, literally forcing my mind to think of other things.
I quietly shut the kitchen door and moved deeper into the house. The kitchen was clean and showed only life's daily clutter. I quietly passed into the dining room, and peered around the corner into the living room. I started and may have moaned aloud, as I instantly spotted Wayne, the blood splatter on the walls, and the .44 on the floor near Wayne's body. Whatever the NRA slogan might suggest, Wayne's final act was violent enough that he didn't keep hold of the weapon after it fired. I just walked over and picked the gun up of the expensive beige carpet. Wayne had been gone long enough that his body was clearly in rigor, but I thankfully didn't need to pry anything out of his hand. I stood near Wayne for a few moments, now temporarily oblivious to the stench and gore. His posture was rigid, as if he were still suffering a terrible shock. His face was totally obscured by the violence of his self-inflicted shot, a massive gaping hole where his mouth, nose and eyes should have been. I can only pray he was at peace in whatever world comes after this, as his body looked anything but peaceful in this one.
I shook myself out my lethargy and did a fast search of the house for other bodies or possible infected. Later, after calming down a bit, I went back through the house methodically. It was during the second tour that I found the ammunition, as well as a fair amount of canned food, dry goods, bottled water, and even some camping gear. Other than the ammo, the best find was a small Coleman camp stove and a couple of fuel cartridges. I loaded everything I thought I could use into a couple of suitcases I found in hall closet, lugged them outside, and dropped them over the fence into my yard as quietly as I could. I went back in the house, having decided that I couldn't leave Wayne where he was. I would love to say that I buried he and Caroline under their flower garden, but I wasn't interested in closure and final resting places. I wanted to secure their house and have it as a fall back position in case my house became encircled or overrun. I figured the fence and enclosed property might buy me time if I needed it later. I stripped the master bed of its comforter, laid it on the floor next to Wayne, and unceremoniously dumped him out of his easy chair. Grabbing the corners of the comforter, I was able to slide Wayne to the front door, and with some bumping and sliding, managed to get his body outside by the gate.
At this point, my planning was kicking into high gear. I checked Wayne's pants pockets, and sure enough I found the key fob to the Volvo and the house keys. Next, I opened the driver side door to the Volvo, quickly jumping back as a swarm of flies erupted out of the car. I put the keys into the ignition and moved the gear lever to neutral. I went to gate, opened it a crack so I could look for any infected nearby, and when I saw the area was clear, swung the gate wide. A little bit of a shove, and the Volvo quietly rolled on its own out into the street. I quickly jogged over to Wayne's body, grabbed up the corners of the comforter, and slid him the rest way out of the yard and into the street. Reaching back into the car to get the keys to lock the house up, I the noticed the bites marks on Caroline's arm. Later, when I was back in the safe confines of my own little fortress, I guessed that Caroline and Wayne must have been out and about, when Caroline was set upon by an infected person. Perhaps Wayne had been forece to shoot her when she turned, or maybe she begged him to end her life before she turned, but either way, Wayne must have unravelled all that way at that point.
I dind't dwell on the bites marks at the time, of course. I simply went back into the yard, closed the gate, locked up the house, and boosted myself over the fence into my own yard. I spent about ten more minutes shuttling my new-found supplies up the ladder to my second floor, looking all the while for sign that infected had heard my comings and goings. Once I had my haul safely in the house and the ladder retracted, I collapsed in an exhausted heap on the floor. I started to sob quietly, and it lasted for a long, long time.
Seeing Wayne and Caroline's dead bodies had been upsetting, but what really rocked me was thinking about my wife. I missed her terribly and couldn't help but thinking of her as I had seen Caroline. My imagination superimpsed my wife's face over Caroline's, and the image tortured me. I hadn't even dared to hope that I would her see her again alive, but seeing Wayne and Caroline as they were extinguished even the last ember of hope I had. I was alone. And I am always going to be alone.